Marvel and Bigfoot and Ponies—Oh My!: Oddmall Celebrates Its Anniversary at Knight Center
Bart Sullivan, 05-17-2019

Patrons peruse hand-made goods at Oddmall at the John S. Knight Center.
Bart Sullivan
Have you ever wondered where to find a Quidditch cat bed? What about humanely acquired taxidermy? Or how about a cartoonish painting of Batman? Oddmall: Emporium of the Weird has these and so much more, and the 10th annual event was held at the John S. Knight Center during the first weekend in May. Beyond the vendors of high-quality geeky and unusual crafts and toys were music, games, books, costumes, panels, and podcasts.

“[Oddmall is] a forum for creative expression, a classroom for esoteric wisdom, a soapbox for wild ideas, a miraculous marketplace of the unconventional,” explains Andy Hopp, the event’s creator and organizer. “Inspiration and artistry congregate amidst the snapping crocodiles and scorching sunbeams of originality and ingenuity.”

The show originated in 2009 at the Clarion Hotel in Hudson as a place for creative artists and crafters to share their work with a like-minded community, but it was forced to move once its popularity led to its outgrowth of the location.

Filling both floors of the John S. Knight Center, there was very little that might be found at a common craft show. Rather than plain hand-knit sweaters, one could find hand-sewn superhero and other pop culture-themed aprons and dresses. A majority of the jewelry sold fit more with fantasy and steampunk cultures than diamond retailers. A particularly geeky find not seen many other places, including online, were hand-made cross-stitched hoops and frames containing geeky images and quotes such as “It might be bunnies” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and an image of dinosaurs with the phrase “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”—a reference to Firefly. All of these items fit were squeezed into one location for an audience they were specifically geared toward.

In addition to vendors, the show hosted multiple panels both days of the show, about everything from paranormal experiences to the Marvel and DC cinematic universes. Kylan Toles, co-host of the official Oddmall podcast Geek Watch One and a panel organizer said “[Oddmall panels are] an opportunity for people to discuss maybe one of their favorite fandoms, to learn about something they’ve always been interested in, or to maybe even participate in a trivia game or something like that.” These panels, while not appearing to be full, gave way to lengthy discussions for those in attendance.

Musicians and talent took the stage at the event’s entrance, hosting independent artists not commonly seen in a large venue like this in Akron. Justin Curry, arriving on stage upon leaving the train from his previous gig, performed electro-pop violin music. He combined pre-recorded electronica with his live performance, inspired by his trips around the world, including Japan. Kim Kennedy’s original melodic rock and country guitar picking were a particular favorite of the weekend.

A constant among shoppers and vendors were costumes. “Since Oddmall is about everything geeky and to just let your nerd flag fly, we encourage people to just dress within whatever fandom that they love, whether it’s a book or an anime or a movie. We don’t really care, just enjoy yourself and have fun dressing up,” explains Jessica Cook, who, with Victoria Rose, runs and presents the costume contest. According to Cook, not as many people signed up for the contest during this show as they have seen in years past, but there were still plenty of people who enjoyed dressing up without participating in the contest.

Oddmall is held six times throughout the year, but the early-May event is the largest and most well-established of them all. June 8th-9th, Oddmall: Riverside Ramble, will happen along the waterways of Canton’s Monument Park. In addition to these shows, there is also a permanent location for Oddmall in Green, Ohio, known as Oddmall Outpost: Assembly of Odd. Formerly the River of Life Assembly of God church, Hopp made repairs and filled the building with more than just artists’ consignments.

“There are thousands of unusual items for sale, a turtle pond made of toilets and sandboxes, a game room, hangout spaces, and weird art dripping from the walls, shelves, ceilings, and floors. Well, not actually dripping from the floors, but certainly poised majestically upon them.”

Oddmall Outpost is located at 772 E. Turkeyfoot Lake Rd. in Green. For more information about future Oddmall shows, visit http://www.oddmall.info.


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