AUGUSTA — Jim Nutting certainly fit in Saturday during Maine’s Odd and Unusual Show at the Augusta Civic Center. As the artist walked around carrying a fuzzy, Chilean rose hair tarantula, he offered to let passersby pet his friendly spider and even have it climb into their hands for a visit.

One wary 5-year-old, Sterling Charneski, politely declined, responding, observantly, “Why do you have a Band-aid on your hand?”

Nutting, owner of Maine Art Glass Studio in Lisbon Falls, which is also home to his Butterfly Exhibit & Insect Museum, laughed and explained that he needed the Band-aid because he’d cut himself while working as a stained glass artist, not because the spider had bitten him.

“She’s never bitten anyone,” he assured a small crowd that had gathered around to pose for pictures holding the large but safe-to-handle arachnid.

A crowd gathers Saturday to watch Nick Penney swallow a sword during Maine’s Odd and Unusual Show at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Seemingly less safe at Maine’s Odd and Unusual Show, which continues Sunday at the civic center, was Nick Penney, a world-record-holding sword swallower. He swallowed several long swords, including a curved Japanese sword that required him, he said, to lean over at an angle “or I’ll cut off my esophagus.”

According to his biographical information, Penney holds records for turning cartwheels while swallowing three swords at once, most push-ups while sword-swallowing, and most swords swallowed while suspended upside down.


For the finale of Saturday’s show, Penney broke out a long sword he called the career killer.

He’d purchased it from another, now-former, sword swallower, who gave up sword swallowing after cutting through his stomach with that same sword. Titling his head back, he slid the sword down his throat, jumping up and down to make sure it was as far down as it could go, before pulling it back out.

“I risk my life to entertain all of you,” Penney told the large crowd that gathered to watch him and Alexis Powers, who performs as Lexi GoGo and performed acrobatic dance moves with hula hoops on stage. “Thank you very much for your time. I’m still alive!”

Misty Lane is the organizer of Maine’s Odd and Unusual Show at this weekend at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Misty Lane of Fairfield, curator of Maine’s Odd and Unusual Show, said it was their second such unique show. The first show, in April at The Elm in Waterville, drew 1,800 people which she said was too many for that venue. This weekend’s show at the Augusta Civic Center had plenty of room for visitors, and the roughly 75 vendors hawking a wide variety of items, many of them selling skulls and other animal bones, as well as antique items, oddities and artwork.

Lane said she and her husband, who own Hillbilly Furniture & Furs, have previously sold their taxidermy and other odd items at similar shows across the country. She decided Maine should have a show featuring the odd and unusual too, so they organized one.

“We like to cater to all those weirdos, so they feel at home, like they’re with their people,” she said at their booth, which featured numerous furs, turtle shells, stuffed baby chickens and a variety of animal skulls.


Donald Hutchins of Canton also had animal skulls for sale as part of his display, as well as some of his collection of antique hand tools, handmade jewelry boxes and furniture, and knives and clubs. He makes the unusual items as his side gig, and works with his father at Hutchins and Son Custom Woodworking. He said he bought the animal skulls while out looking for items to buy. He said he loves finding old hand tools and other unique items.

“It’s a lot of fun, finding cool Americana,” he said of collecting items to resell.

Chelsea Rancourt of Corinna had art featuring dead bees — which she found already dead on her windowsills — and also hand-painted mushrooms featuring scenes of nature. Like many other booths, she also featured pieces of art using animal skulls. She said all her animal bones are ethically harvested, many of them roadkill she cleaned up to use in her art.

Rancourt said she has previously taken her art to more traditional arts and crafts shows, where she said some people liked it, but where she felt out of place with her unusual items. Not so at Maine’s Odd and Unusual, which she discovered after attending the first such show in Waterville as a spectator.

“I fell in love with the show and said I had to be part of it,” she said.

Jeff Witham talks about “Jeff’s Traveling Board Museum” during Maine’s Odd and Unusual Show on Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Tattooed and bearded Jeff Witham, operator of Jeff’s Traveling Board Museum, had a display of a wide variety of Ouija boards on two walls of his booth, including boards from 1912 and 1919, as well as a custom Ozzy Osbourne Ouija board, and one he got at the Lizzy Borden House.


Witham said he believes without a doubt the boards, also known as spirit boards or talking boards that spell out messages for users in response to their questions, work. He said once friends blindfolded him and turned the board around, and he, using it, was still able to have it spell out answers.

Mike Davis, assistant director of the Bridgton Historical Society, worked a booth featuring baby doll heads with their tops cut off so the heads could be used as planters.

He also hawked Beast of Bridgton Wolfaboomis BBQ Sauce, which the town’s historical society made and named for a mythical wolf-like beast said to have been spotted by numerous people there between 1885 and 1896. He said the sauce at $8 a bottle, was selling briskly. And anyone who bought a baby doll head planter got to choose a baby doll limb, for free, from a container full of random plastic baby doll parts.


Comments are no longer available on this story