› What: Tattanooga
› Where: Camp Jordan, 323 Camp Jordan Parkway, East Ridge
› When: 1-10 p.m. Friday, April 21; noon-midnight, Saturday, April 22; and noon-7 p.m. Sunday, April 23.
› Admission: $15 one-day pass, $35 three-day pass, free for ages 10 and younger
› Online: www.tattanooga.com
Close to 150 tattoo artists from across the country — one even traveling from Anchorage, Alaska — are converging on Camp Jordan for the second Tattanooga, Friday-Sunday, April 21-23.
Promoter Eric Newby of Inked Expressions in East Ridge says during his 20 years in the tattoo business he has seen what ideas worked at festivals, so he pooled the best of them for Tattanooga.
"After working different conventions all over the U.S., I've seen what I felt would bring in more people. That's why we added bands and car shows. So when we reached out to artists last year for the first Tattanooga, we got a huge response. After the first year did so well, and the artists made good money, word spread throughout the artist community," he explains of the event's success although only in its second year.
"We sold 4,000 wristbands for the first expo last year and we expect to double that this year," says Dollie Martin of Dead Girlz Tattoo, show coordinator.
Not only will the tattoo artists display their work, they will ink visitors who want a tattoo on-site, says Martin. Saturday's schedule includes eight tattoo contests based on color and lettering. On Sunday, there are eight more tattoo contests based on designs, concluding with Best of Expo.
Best of Expo is the best-of-show tattoo done by an artist at the convention. Newby says eligible artists have to win Best of Day in one of each day's categories to be in Best of Show. Best of Show winner receives $500 and a free booth for the next year's expo. Daniel Japaniel from Blue Ridge, Ga., was the first winner.
Nine bands will play over the weekend, there will be an art exhibit and sale of art from attending ink artists. Inside Camp Jordan Arena, 105 vendors' booths will be selling everything from T-shirts and retro clothing to jewelry and oddities, as well as artists' work. More vendors will be set up outside the arena.
Christine Bordeaux, also of Dead Girlz Tattoo, is in charge of the Ms. Tattanooga pinup contest. She says tattoos are not required in order to enter, and walk-ups will be accepted. There is no registration fee, just expo admission.
"We didn't want to alienate anybody who might be interested in the culture, but doesn't have a tattoo. We are not judging based on tattoos," says Bordeaux.
Minimum age to enter is 18 and the winner gets $300 in cash, a professional photo shoot, crown and sash. Contestants need to bring a "nice, pinup outfit — usually rockabilly to classic. There is no swimsuit competition," she says.
The expo features a bike and car show and contest. Martin says classic hot rods, muscle cars and rat rods will be found in the front parking lot. Imports and sound competition cars will be located in the arena's side lot.
"Friday is a free cruise-in, Saturday is the car show," she says.
Registration will be Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, judging at 3 p.m. and awards ceremony at 5 p.m.
Martin says there are 36 categories with trophies and the Best of Show winner will receive a custom-welded, 4-foot-tall trophy.
There will even be activities for children in the Kids Corner. Martin says there is no charge for the inflatables, and nominal fees for other activities will be set by those owners. They include a climbing wall, art activities and a children's train ride that will tour the hot rods and cars.
"We're trying to create a festival atmosphere with children's activities, food, music, car and bike shows and all the things going on," says Newby.
Contact Susan Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6284.