The Kahnawake Sports Complex swapped its ice surface and nets for trading cards and vintage toys as it hosted the K-Town Collectables Expo last weekend.
The May 6-7 event – co-organized by collectables enthusiasts William Rice, Eric Ravenelle, and Mike Brathwaite – attracted hundreds of people.
The three organizers met at a collector’s show, and it wasn’t long before they started doing their own version.
With the success of K-Town Expo’s first edition, the organizers knew they needed a larger space to accommodate the crowd, which is why they relocated to the arena last year. Prior to a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, it had been held at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
“It’s really nice to have a lot of space. Sometimes you go to other shows, and it’s crammed. No one can move. You’re all stuck together,” said Rice. “We used to have about 40 tables at the Knights; now we’re at over 170.”
Those tables were host to vendors and artists ranging from brick-and-mortar local game stores like Montreal’s Crossover Comics and Candiac’s Collect-Edition, to private sports memorabilia collectors, vintage toy and comic book traders, sci-fi themed charities, crafters, and comic artists, to name a few.
Many of the vendors and artists were from Kahnawake, including comic book artist Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer and the 392 Pepper Company.
“We know all our vendors. The toy community is a close-knit community. We know everyone here has the same goals we do,” said Brathwaite. Those who participate with the expo are usually hand-picked by the organizers, either through their connections in the collectables scene or by being spotted at other shows.
“We’re also really happy about the diversity of collectables you can find in our expo. Sometimes you go to a show and it’s all the same kind of stuff, but not here. We have something for everyone,” said Rice.
Indeed, if you were looking for vintage or new releases of toys, comics, video games, trinkets, trading cards, or sports memorabilia, you could probably find someone on the floor who had it.
There were also food vendors outside the complex, notably community restaurants Haunted Dogs and Old Haunt BBQ.
Other entertainment options were available on site as well. On Saturday, cosplayers from the Imperiale Garrison of the 501st Legion, a cosplay organization based on stormtroopers and other villains from Star Wars, were on site. There was also a free face-paint kiosk for kids and a dinosaur-themed bouncy castle.
On Sunday, the Inter Species Wrestling (ISW) promotion put on an afternoon wrestling show, which included an eight-wrestler tournament for the “Masters of the Universe” title belt.
The belt features He-Man and Skeletor, and its name is an homage to the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon from the 1980s, to match the theme of the expo. “The Hotstepper” Macrae Martin from Vancouver won the tournament, which featured a mix of Montreal-based wrestlers and others from across the country and the eastern United States.
“We’ve been doing K-Town for three years, and if they could sign us up for a lifetime contract, we’d take it,” said Collect-Edition’s Patrick Brisson. He said the ambiance and the family-friendly nature of the show were big positives, as well as the organizers’ enthusiasm.
“At the end of the day, we’re doing it for the smiles,” said Brathwaite. “To be able to bring people, families together for events is really hard to do, and we’re grateful that the community has seemed to respond so well to the K-Town Expo.”
All in all, the organizers consider this year’s edition to be another rousing success, with a lot of positive feedback from attendees and vendors alike, according to Ravenelle.
“Kids love it, with the activities and the toys and everything, and adults get that nostalgia and the memories from when they were kids, too. Sure, we want our vendors to do well, and everyone we’ve talked to has been selling well this weekend, but if it was just about money, it would be no fun,” said Ravenelle.
“The thing with Kahnawake is, the community always comes out to events,” said Rice. “And spoiler alert: we’ll be back next year!”