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A Legendary Tattoo Expo: Event to benefit children with cancer

Tattoo artists from around the United States are headed to Dickinson for the 2017 Legendary Tattoo Expo.

The weekend event is Friday through Sunday, Sept. 15-17, at the Ramada Grand Dakota Hotel, which is hosting  the event. In addition to seeing more than 40 tattoo artists at work, the public will help raise money for local children with cancer. A $25 wrist band serves as the weekend pass for all of the activities, games and entertainment.

The doors open at 11 a.m. Friday through Sunday and go into the evening. In addition, there will be a family day on Saturday when kids are invited to attend with their parents from 3-7 p.m. They can get temporary tattoos or a wonky haircut, and  play on a bouncy castle, mechanical bull or various games.

“We’re helping to raise money for local kids with cancer, said Kelly Heimbach, corporate sales manager. “Every dime raised here stays locally in Dickinson, with an endowment to match.”

She’s learned there are 37 children in Dickinson area with cancer or who are in remission.

Kelly is working with Pernora Kadrmas, banquet catering manager on finalizing details.

“Basically, our expo is a three-day event,” Pernora said. “We have over 40 different tattoo artists coming from  Arizona, Texas, Wyoming, Montana, Minnesota, Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota. They will be doing tattooing and live piercings for three days in-house in the hotel. They will be working in every nook and cranny at the hotel.”

The idea for a tattoo expo came with a challenge from hotel management -- to create an event in Dickinson that doesn’t already exist here.

“It was a leap of faith to take on such a huge event,” Pernora said. “Really, many people have helped walk us through this.”

“People have no idea what happens behind the scenes,” added Kelly, who recently traveled to a tattoo expo in Minnesota to get ideas. She met various tattoo artists, such as Grand Avenue Tattoo  and Piercing from Arizona who was excited about the idea of helping children and who  plans to attend.

“We want to make sure we give a shout out to local tattoo shops, who are on board,” she added.

Dickinson artists, as well as artists from Bismarck, Williston, Watford City, Minot and Fargo, are planning to attend.

The live entertainment will feature the Captain’s Sideshow, owned by Dusty and Stephanie Mathis out of Oklahoma. Their entertainment was described as an old-school side-show with a twist -- like a hula hoop demonstration on broken glass or playing with fire or swinging cinder blocks from earlobes. Their main performance is approximately at 9 p.m. Saturday.

Entertainment also will include Drew Millett from the Band Kramer and local band, Brandon St. Randy. Jessie Ivey -- an emcee from Texas -- will serve a master of ceremonies.

“He will keep the party going,” Kelly said.

As a challenge to the tattoo artists, there will be a tattoo competition.

“Basically, it’s a way for artists to showcase the work they’ve done in the past,” Kelly said

“Every day, we will have categories that artists can enter -- they will try to win prizes and trophies.”

Kelly said  people from all walks of life get tattoos. Kelly, herself has nine tattoos, while Pernora has three.

“I think that tattooing is more popular and more accepted,” Pernora  said. “I’ve seen grandma’s tributes to children and family trees.”

Kelly’s tattoos tell a story about a chapter in her life --a moment in time that doesn’t mean anything except to herself.

“Everyone is different -- I like classic black and white,” Kelly said. “Pernora likes watercolors or brighter colors. Every artists has a different strength. Someone may be good at shading, another specializes in cover-ups. We’ve made sure we are offering something in every form.” Kelly is hoping to see construction and energy workers take time from their schedule to attend.

“Oil guys are not going to charity balls, they are not participating in crab cracks, so we wanted to give them something that is fun for the weekend,” Kelly said.

Joko Sandala, owner of Joko-Altered Ink, has operated his shop in Dickinson for 12 years.

“We’re the host shop,” said Joko. “I I do different shows around the country. I’ve been to Romania and Canada to do shows. It’s always fun -- this one is for kids with cancer, which is really awesome. There’s always more than tattoo artists -- there will be other types of vendors and booths -- some cool stuff. If you live in Dickinson and have seen a bridal expo-- this is the same thing -- but it’s for our culture -- the tattoo and piercing industry.”

Crystal Fahlsing, who owns In the Flesh Tattoo, shares the building with Bassackward Studio.

“We both do tattoos and piercing. Neither has a specialty style,” Crystal said. “My motto is, if you can think it i can ink it.”

Crystal is celebrating her 16th anniversary in  the business and as a tattoo artist for 18 years.

“An expo gives recognition to the tattoo community and gives people an understanding of tattooing and it’s an opportunity to meet other artists. It’s for everybody, from doctors and bikers to self-employed people -- that’s why we love it so much-- we get to meet everybody.”

The coordinators stress there will be no free tattoos -- each tattoo artist will set up his or her own schedule, either on a Facebook page that has a list  artists  or when people arrive at the expo.

More information regarding the artists, times and dates can be seen on Facebook at Legendary Tattoo Expo or call 701-456-8415.