The Hippo


May 29, 2020








Courtesy photo.

11th annual Live Free or Die Tattoo Expo

When: Friday, July 21, 5 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, July 22, 10 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday, July 23, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Radisson Hotel, 700 Elm St., Manchester
Cost: $15 for a one-day pass, $20 for a two-day pass or $25 for a three-day pass. Kids ages 16 and under receive free admission. Tickets can be bought at the door or in advance online. Visitors can save $5 by buying their tickets ahead of time.

Ink inspired
Custom tattooing, contests and more at annual expo

By Matt Ingersoll

 Jon Thomas, owner of Spider-Bite Tattoo & Body Piercing in Manchester, decided to introduce a tattoo expo to the Queen City after traveling to several other expos across the Northeast — but he wanted to take it up a notch.

“I visited expos in Boston, New York and Philadelphia … and realized that, you know, that person is the same person as me, they just happen to live in a bigger city, and we’re just little old New Hampshire,” Thomas said. “So I wanted to bring something bigger here.”
Thus the Live Free or Die Tattoo Expo was born. Now in its 11th year, the event is held over three days at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester and brings together more than 100 local tattoo artists, body piercers, vendors and more. 
Some artists come from across the country to offer their services just for the expo. 
This year’s event is happening on Friday, July 21, from 5 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, July 22, from 10 a.m. to midnight and Sunday, July 23, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The expo is more than just an opportunity to get an onsite tattoo or piercing. Thomas said there will be live entertainment performances, vendors, contests, sideshows and more scheduled throughout the three days of the event.
It was just a year before the first expo when tattooing became legal in Manchester, according to Thomas.
“The first year we did it, it was only a two-day event and we had 93 booths,” he said. “Now 11 years later, we have 128 booths … and people are definitely from all over the place. … We have a fair amount from the New England area, of course, but also people from California, the Washington, D.C., area and Florida as well.”
Members of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow will be at the expo performing shows on all three days, at 8 p.m. on Friday, 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
“They’ll do a lot of stuff normal people wouldn’t do, like sword-swallowing, the old nail through the nose trick and stuff like that, so it’s a lot of fun to watch,” Thomas said.
Tattoo contests featuring all kinds of categories are also planned, including Best Cover Up, Best Portrait, Best Lettering, and Tattoo of the Day and Piercing of the Day for each of the three expo days. 
Also planned will be a beard and mustache competition on Saturday at 7 p.m., with registration ending at 6 p.m. 
Thomas said winners will receive either cash prizes or trophies, depending on the contest. Each has a $5 entry fee per person.
The pin-up pageant, a recent addition to the expo, kicks off at 9 p.m. Thomas said this year’s participants will be sporting a Western theme; previous pageants have covered a variety of themes like military, retro and classic.
A tattoo contest of a different sort will take place on Sunday at 3 p.m. 
The Worst Tattoo Contest is being sponsored by Tatt2Away in Manchester and Inkfree Tattoo Removal Parlor in Portsmouth and the winner will receive one free non-laser tattoo removal, Thomas said. 

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