As unbelievable as it may seem, the erratic Florida weather did not hamper the celebration of Ripley’s Museum 20th anniversary this Saturday.
The event, which was cleverly trademarked ODDtoberfest, took place in the parking lot in front of the crooked house that serves as the museum for Ripley’s Orlando. The weather was 90 degrees and muggy, typical for Central Florida; despite the heat, fans of the most interesting museum in Orlando trickled in to see the talent of several world class entertainers.
The pre-festivities opened with Radio Disney warming up the crowd with music and fun geared for kids and adults of all ages. The ODDtoberfest events that followed were what kept people glued to the Ripley’s parking lot for most of the day.
“We wanted to do something to commemorate 20 years on I-Drive,” said Joe Kasinski, Director of Sales and Marketing of Ripley’s Orlando. “The sheer design of the building is an eye-catcher.”
Among the events for the day was Trick Ropin’ Trevor who took a break from his Walt Disney trick roping to entertain the crowds of Ripley’s.
Trevor wasn’t the only trick on I-Drive. Amora the Fire Breather Belly Dancer took the stage Saturday and worked the crowds into a heated frenzy with her belly dancing and fire eating act that has entertained fans for more than a decade.
In speaking with Amora after the show, the circus veteran, armed with a fire extinguisher, wouldn’t reveal any of her secrets to the fire-breathing; however, she did mention many of the amazing things that she has done over her 15 year career, which began with the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Ripley’s lined their parking lot similar to a carnival Midway, feeding patrons free tickets that allowed them to play silly carnival-like games such as; Pandung ring toss, Horseshoe throwing, frog launch and the milk jug toss. Winners of the lucky games received plush Ripley’s toys like the 6-legged frog, coloring books and other fun and odd gifts from the Ripley’s fun chest.
Perhaps the most eye-catching of all the “sideshow” attractions was the very presence of Erik “The Lizardman” Sprague. With the recent launch of Ripley’s newest book, Download the Weird, fans lined up in the parking lot to get themselves a signed copy of the book, along with a photo with “The Lizardman”. His tattoos may be menacing, but rest assured, Lizardman was a pleasant and easily approachable guy who was fun to take photos with.
The grand finale was the funky sounds of Beebs and her Moneymakers, a local Orlando group whose rock and ska-like sound was like a hybrid between No Doubt and The Gorillaz. The 7 person ensemble jammed out to an audience of kids and adults, Hula-hooping and dancing to the group’s unique sound.
The kids took advantage of two bouncy houses, along with some good old-fashioned face painting as well as some pretty groovy tattooing by a pink-haired female clown.
The best part, it was all free.
ODDtoberfest seemed to bring in some pretty good traffic to the museum as well. While Ripley’s is known for its fun and quirky artifacts, it offers some genuine items that would easily fit into any reputable museum around the world.
Besides being home to the world’s smallest violin and “The Last Supper” lint mural (which is actually quite impressive), Ripley’s also contains some amazing relics that demonstrate its ability to be a player in the stuffy world of museums.
“There’s really a good mixture of historical and cultural artifacts that appeal to people of all ages,” said Kasinski.
Possibly one of the most amazing pieces being a very large piece of the Berlin Wall, a personal favorite of Museum Director Joe Kasinski.
“To me, that piece more than anything epitomizes us as a world class museum,” said Kasinski.
Ripley’s sole purpose for Saturday was to pay homage to all of their fans who have helped keep them up and running for the last 20 years. It is because of their generations of fans that they have continued to support Robert Ripley’s passion for the bizarre.
When asked how the 20th Anniversary celebration went, Kasinski smiled and looked over at me and said:
“I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”