People who spent the weekend at the Lethbridge Fairgrounds had the opportunity to take a different kind of hit.
“It’s a tattoo convention,” said Ash Goods, organizer of the Windy City Tattoo Show. “You will come and get tattoos all weekend.”
And not just tattoos: burlesque and hangers, piercings, beer gardens, and even a Fear factorThe insect-eating-style competition was part of the three-day Windy City Tattoo Show.
The event also attracted 120 artists from across Canada.
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Tattoo studios have been subject to changing public health measures in Alberta during the pandemic. But Goods, and other artists at the show, said the way they carry out their work hasn’t changed much.
“We’ve always followed the same guidelines that everyone should follow now,” Goods said. “So it’s kind of interesting that way.”
Tattoo shops have always been subject to strict health guidelines. The use of gloves and single-use hygiene products is not new to the artists, but they fell victim to supply shortages because of it.
“It’s been a challenge keeping up with everything, gloves and whatnot,” said Monty Ricken, owner of Monsters Inc. in Medicine Hat. “But for the most part it hasn’t stopped us from working, it’s just been a little bit more of a challenge.”
“Being shut down and told that we are not doing things correctly is very frustrating. But we try to make sure everyone has fun, gets a tattoo safely, and feels safe. “
Masking and social distancing has been the biggest change at Ricken’s store. Clients cannot bring a friend or loved one to their appointment with them, and the artists in the studio are more widely spaced.
“We are very close to people, so it really makes you stop and think about personal space,” Ricken said.
Having hosted the same event in 2020, Goods felt ready to do it again this year.
“It was the first program to be held in Canada after the first COVID-19 shutdown,” he said. “So we knew what we were getting into this year, which gave us a bit of peace of mind.”
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But on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced a new set of public health measures to combat the fourth wave of COVID-19 and ease stress on the healthcare system. Some of those new measures went into effect on Thursday, and the rest on Monday.
The Windy City Tattoo Show falls under the category of venues, where new public health measures don’t start until Monday.
When Goods first heard Wednesday’s announcement, she said she was confused and felt she had more questions than answers about whether the Windy City Tattoo Show could go on.
“For a couple of hours I was quite stressed. But I’m very happy that we could continue the weekend and everyone seems to be having a good time. “
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Jai Vanhardeveld was one of the people who stopped by the show. From Saskatchewan, he said that getting a chance to get a tattoo with Ricken is what brought him to the windy city.
“It’s the quality of the work that he does,” he said.
“It is worth traveling for.”
And Vanhardeveld is no stranger to getting a tattoo. He doesn’t know how many pieces he has, but he said there are more than 70 hours of work on his body.
Due to the already strict health guidelines in place when it comes to tattooing, he felt confident doing more work during the pandemic.
“Once I’m in the studio, I know I’m in a safe place because they do more sanitation than anyone else,” Vanhardeveld said.
“They deal with bloodborne pathogens on a daily basis, so they are more aware of the potential dangers than most industries.”
Posters promoting masking and social distancing were placed around the event space.
And if people were looking for a different type of vaccine, an Alberta Health Services vaccination clinic could be found next door.
The Windy City Tattoo Show is an annual event in Lethbridge taking place in September 2022.
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