By David M. Fitzpatrick
Of The Weekly Staff
What would an expo need to have to appeal to men of all stripes?
How about an arm-wrestling contest? Maybe a NASCAR simulator, or a mixed martial arts demonstration with Team Irish, featuring world-famous fighter Marcus Davis? Perhaps a contest to eat hot wings or pies?
Or you might rather drive a golf ball in a simulator for a chance to win $10,000.
If that sounds like there’s something there for everyone… well, we’re not done yet.
Beer tent? Check. Riding a mechanical bull? Done. Indoor archery? Got it. Indoor paintball? Yes.
Oh, yeah. A concert by the nationally renowned Portland band Paranoid Social Club? Wouldn’t miss it. Ugliest-tattoo contest? Of course.
All that and more is just five bucks a day, and kids under 12 get in free. Yeah, you read that right.
Welcome to this weekend’s BDN Maine Man Expo, to be held at the new Cross Insurance Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, where men are men, and boys are men, and even the women are men. There are many activities with a general men’s appeal, but there will even be a vendor section just for the ladies.
And many of the activities at this event are very family friendly.
“It’s a Man Expo, but we want the whole family to come out,” said Events Producer Pat Lemieux. “It’s basically a lot of activities that we think men would be interested in. But there are things there for women and children; actually, some of the more excited people that I’ve talked to [about this event] happen to be women.”
Saturday and Sunday will feature demonstrations by mixed martial artists from Team Irish, including Jon Lemke and world-famous fighter Marcus Davis, as they show various moves and techniques, educate the public about the realities of mixed martial arts, and sign autographs.
The demonstrations, in a 14-foot by 14-foot matted area, will include grappling and striking techniques. With strikes and kicks, one demonstrator will use handheld pads and call out strikes for the fighter to deliver.
Team Irish member Scott Lavoie will man the microphone to describe the techniques and what the audience is seeing.
“There will be a conversational piece about what mixed martial arts is, but also explaining what they’re doing,” Lavoie said.
The arm-wrestling event, led by 207 Arm Sports, will headline Saturday’s show. Nate Gagnon, who founded the company in 2012 after attending a few sub-par events and knowing he could do a better job, is working to bring arm wrestling into the pubic eye. He expects at least 60 participants; already, arm wrestlers are coming from all over the Northeast and the Maritimes to compete at the Man Expo, but you can sign up the day of the event. Weigh-ins are from 10 a.m. to noon, and the competition begins at 1 p.m., with divisions for men’s right- and left-handed fighters, women, and novices.
“I’m expecting this to be my biggest turnout ever,” said Gagnon. “As long as the Man Expo is around, I think 207 Arm Sports is going to want to be involved.”
Paranoid Social Club will close out the Man Expo with its unique brand of music that blends everything from rock, punk, soul, funk, folk, and even a little hip-hop. The band, founded by Dave Gutter and John Roods of the renowned group Rustic Overtones, is looking forward to appearing, although they don’t know what to expect.
“I don’t know what a Man Expo is,” said PSC rhythm guitarist Trent Gay. “Personally, I can change a flat tire, but… I don’t know what to expect. I’m growing my beard. I don’t know what the other guys are doing. I’ll leave it at that.”
So what can the crowd expect when Paranoid Social Club takes the stage?
“A display of masculinity unlike anything that they have ever seen,” Gay said with melodramatic sarcasm. “To be overwhelmed with the machismo and raw sexuality.”
Lemieux said everyone from the organizers to the vendors are very excited about the Man Expo, and that will translate well to the show-goers.
“We want everyone who shows up to have a great time,” he said. “People will not be bored. This is not an event where you show up, pay your five bucks, do a lap, and then you’re leaving because you’re bored.”
Visit BDNMaineManExpo.com to check out the schedule of events and to get details on the many things going on this weekend.