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The Oddities and Curiosities Expo: The Strange Side of Salt Lake

“There’s really nothing like this that exists. We’re not a horror convention, we’re not a comic con, we’re kind of our own thing.”
(Courtesy of the Oddities & Curiosities Expo)


Among the thousands of themed expos thrown each year across the country, one stands out for its peculiar focus. The Oddities & Curiosities Expo brings together artists, businesses and performers who all skew a bit stranger than what you’d find at your casual arts festival. In this year’s tour, the convention plans to hit 30 cities across the United States and will head overseas to Australia for a few shows. For Salt Lake City, the expo just made its splash this last weekend at the Mountain America Exposition Center, their third year in a row stopping in our home city. Hitting the convention floor, there were many weird and quirky objects and artifacts as one would expect to find.

Grotesque and Beautiful 

Upon first entering the expo, it was hard not to miss the multiple booths selling and presenting taxidermy animals. Everything including rats, buffalos and dogs could all be seen stuffed and displayed, to some horror and delight of many. In equal quantity were animal bones and skulls as well as various body parts and appendages stuffed into jars. They were all “non-human” bits, but to be honest it was difficult to tell at times. Unsurprisingly, bugs also had a clear presence in the room as multiple vendors sold glass boxes or art pieces demonstrating colorful moths and hand-sized beetles. It’s easy to say that the expo may not be the best place to visit for the squeamish. 

The convention did have more than just animal parts as many vendors sold their unique artwork which oftentimes leaned more pretty than macabre. Abstract expressionist depictions of horror icons sat alongside realistic portraits of Fall landscapes, a great representation of the diverse art on the floor. Cryptid-themed jewelry and coffee table books of liminal spaces were other notable booths that garnered wide attention from visitors of the expo. While not every art business had a style that stood out as much as others, it was guaranteed there’d be something eye-catching at each spot.

Heart in the Darkness

Some of the other booths that were more popular were those selling home and lifestyle items with a spooky twist. Porcelain plates painted with mischievous, black cats and detailed tapestries of cobwebs and coffins were just a few of the items many seemed keen to get their hands on. One business, Farmers Soapery, sold a variety of uniquely scented soaps and lotions that included Pirate Queen, Van Helsing and Monkey Farts.

“The oddities expo is different, I feel, from other conventions I’ve done as a vendor,” said the founder of Farmers Soapery. “It’s just really open-minded, everyone is friendly and nice and just glad to be here. There’s just so much variety.” Her comments were reflected in the smiles of guests and other vendors despite the typically frightening nature of the expo as a whole.

If the convention had to be summed up as a whole, no one could do it better than the creator of the expo, Michelle Cozzaglio, who said the event is for “lovers of the strange and unusual.”

“We curate the show very heavily to ensure we have vendors from all over the country with all things weird,” she said. “I find this to be really special because there’s really nothing like this that exists. We’re not a horror convention, we’re not a comic con, we’re kind of our own thing.”

Michelle and her expo of all things strange and freaky will return to Salt Lake next September and you won’t want to miss it!


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About the Contributor
Graham Jones, Arts Writer, Audio Producer
Graham Jones was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and moved to Utah to study film. Despite his passion for cinema, Graham joined the Chronicle to engage with the University of Utah community and pursue his love for journalism. Outside of the student media office, Graham can be found buried deep into the pages of a graphic novel or lip-syncing to the greatest hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

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