LEWISTON, Maine — The Jello-wrestling competition may have been a bit light on contestants, but it was definitely slimy on fun at this year’s Rock & Tattoo Expo.
In the end, there were no winners. There were, however, three friends cheered on by a crowd and covered from head to toe in orange Jello. Contestants shoved the slimy concoction at one another all the while trying to keep their balance in a plastic, blow-up baby pool.
“I guess we’ll just have to see what happens,” said Tina Handley, of Mexico, just minutes before getting in the ring with her friend Jennie Nisbet, of Rumford. “The Jello’s pretty slippery, so I don’t expect to be standing much.”
The good-natured — albeit gooey — fun was all part of the three-day event held at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee featuring more than 40 tattoo artists from all across New England and as far away as California and Florida. Now in its third year, organizer Kris Howes — tattoo artist and owner of INK! in Rumford — said the event has nearly doubled each year.
In addition to tattoos and body piercings, the expo also featured a full slate of bands all day Saturday, as well as a freak show and art auction benefiting the family of Ken DeMars, of Carthage, who died suddenly at his home in July. Howes said this year’s event attracted about 1,000 people — from the curious who came for their first tattoo or body piercing — to those who wanted to add to their skin canvases.
“I think it’s become more accepted in the last five years,” said Howes’ girlfriend, Michelle DuFault. “It’s become more mainstreamed over the last few years.”
Nisbet said the Jello wrestling was a joke of DeMars who kept trying to talk organizers into having the event as part of the Expo. She said despite the low number of people who entered the event, the wrestling was fun and that was what the Tattoo Expo was all about.
April Pelletier, tattoo artist and co-owner of Artistic Creations in Auburn, said meeting tattoo artists from all over was one of the best parts of the event. This was her tattoo shop’s first time participating in the expo.
“Every artist here was phenomenal. The bands were amazing. And the people were just fantastic,” Pelletier said.
According to Pelletier, the event drew several new customers to the shop she owns with her husband and fellow tattoo artist, Eric, as well as many repeat customers to their business. Three new customers included sisters Joann Breen, of Skowhegan, and Michele and Beth Aldrich, both of Norridgewock, who came to the the Expo to all get the same tattoo.
Breen said all three got the word “Sisters” permanently inked on their body with the infinity sign below it. While her sisters opted to have their tattoos placed on their feet, Breen got her tattoo on her wrist.
“We’re bonding. This is sister bonding,” said Breen with a laugh. “I think if you get a tattoo, you should be proud of it. You shouldn’t get it just because.”