St. Albans is getting its first tattoo convention.
Scheduled for Oct. 14 and 15, the inaugural Rail City Tattoo Convention is the brainchild of 100 Candles business owners Jhon and Jodi Rodriguez, who opened their tattoo parlor on the third floor of the American House last year.
According to Jodi Rodriguez, the event will be the first such tattoo convention in Vermont, and they’ve invited 25 tattoo shops across the state for a two-day event at St. Albans City Hall to kick off the inaugural event.
“We live here, so we want to bring things here,” she said.
What’s a tattoo convention?
The Rodriguezes know that few people in St. Albans have attended a tattoo convention, but they’ve also seen what a successful convention can do for a community.
Jhon Rodriguez gave examples of two international conventions he’s attended in the past – Tattoo Down Babylon in Asuncion, Paraguay, and the Kaiserstadt Tattoo Expo in Aachen, Germany – where tattoo artists converge every year to meet with others in the industry while driving the local economy.
In the same way, the Rail City Tattoo Convention will be bringing in Vermont tattoo artists, and they expect to see downtown businesses benefit as a crowd comes to city hall to check out the event.
It should also help to bridge connections between tattoo shops across the state. Jodi Rodriguez said she found much support from others in the industry interested in the idea.
But that doesn’t mean the wider community isn’t invited to check out the Rail City Tattoo Convention. While tattooing has its niche, the practice of tattooing is an art form, which makes the convention an art-focused event where prints and other related artwork are for sale.
Attendees can also find a tattoo artist directly at the convention to receive a tattoo at City Hall.
“It’s important to know that tattooing will happen during the convention,” Jodi Rodriguez said.
To receive a tattoo, people need to come with ID and money ready, and they can peruse the many different art styles and unique skill sets on display at the convention before going under the needle.
Jhon Rodriguez, for example, specializes in bold, bright, colorful, neo-traditional tattoos. Still, attendees will also be able to find artists specializing in the many different tattooing styles and techniques, such as blackwork, tribal tattoos, realism, and geometric approaches.
Some attendees may even be surprised to see the extent of what’s available. In Vermont, Rodriguez said he sees a lot of traditional tattoo styles, but the art form has a much deeper history and broader cultural impact. He said this first convention is a good chance to introduce those ideas to a wider audience.
“It’s a family-friendly event, so bring grandma,” Jodi Rodriguez said.
Showing off downtown
While the Rodriguezes got the green light to hold the event, there were a few hiccups initially. Vermont state law requires sinks to be available nearby for safety, although new technology has eliminated chiefly the need.
After working with their state inspector, however, they could make accommodations at City Hall to use the venue. Therefore, attendees won’t be able to access the bathroom in the main auditorium. They will be able to access one closer to the city hall entrance.
In the future, it’d be nice to change the related state law, but there hasn’t exactly been a lot of political will to tackle the issue, the Rodriguezes said. They’re just trying to keep things simple by focusing on the enthusiastic artists coming to St. Albans to discuss and share their work.
Jodi Rodriguez said that weekend will likely draw crowds not always seen in downtown St. Albans, but that’s to the city’s benefit. She said St. Albans didn’t have the best reputation long ago. Today, that’s turning around as more people visit and see what St. Albans is about in 2023.
“We can be a part of the change,” Jodi Rodriguez said.
The Rail City Tattoo Convention runs from noon to 7 p.m. on both Oct. 14 and 15. The cost is $10 for entry or $15 for both days. Kids under ten can enter for free. St. Albans City Hall is located at 100 N. Main St.