This past weekend I finally got to see the annual Chicago Oddities and Curiosities Expo at the Odeum in Villa Park. The event proudly proclaims itself geared for “lovers of the strange and unusual” and features taxidermy, specimens, artwork, and just about anything bizarre. My teen daughters, Leia and Jade, joined me and although the event took place both on Saturday and Sunday, our schedules only permitted Saturday a.k.a. one of the hottest days on record. The unholy mix of southwestern temps and midwestern humidity made for an uncomfortable journey but, in the end, we all agreed it was worth it.
There are few things we Daves love to see more during our travels than weird roadside attractions…and the goofier the better! For example, during this trip we got to see “The World’s Biggest Pistachio” near Alamogordo which was absolutely worth a pit stop.
A gargantuan nut, however, would pale in comparison to what we’d encounter just a couple of days later during our drive to Tucson. It actually started the night before when we hopped on Interstate 10 towards Deming and saw the first of many big yellow billboards advertising “THE THING?”
If you are a regular follower of the Daves then you know that we have a variety of interests with one thing in common, they borderline on the weird. Some of the things that make us happy in life are horror and science fiction movies, horror hosts, UFO’s, keeping tarantulas as pets and cryptozoology.
Cryptozoology is the study of hidden animals. These are either animals that were thought to have gone extinct in the past and yet are still being seen today or they are animals that no one has ever caught or officially recorded. Most accounts are based on eyewitness testimony or out of focus photos and though many reports seem bizarre or too good to be true, once in a while a new (or old) animal is discovered (or rediscovered) proving the eyewitnesses correct.
The coelacanth, a prehistoric fish thought to be extinct for millions of years rediscovered in 1938!
Since I was a kid I have always been fascinated with the bizarre and unknown. I was always reading books on UFO’s and bigfoot and to this day I still read everything I can get my hands on in the fields of ufology and cryptozoology. Another interest of mine was the travelling sideshow. These were usually small additions to the travelling carnivals and were often tucked off in a corner of the fairground. You never knew what to expect once you entered the tent, usually paying a small sum for access to all of the oddities inside. What would you see? A 6-legged cow? A two-headed chicken? An alien embryo? Regardless of the contents of the tent, it was almost always guaranteed to delight and disgust and yes, I loved it all.