Contestants show off tattoos for first Branded & Ink'd competition at Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldAugust 26, 2012 

KENNEWICK -- Friday likely was the first time that competitors at the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo needed to scrunch up the legs of their pants, roll up their sleeves and bare their backs to prove worthy of a trophy.

In addition to picking bakers of the best pies and stitchers of the best quilts this year, the fair chose the best tattoos at its first Branded and Ink'd contest Saturday.

The three-foot trophy for best of show went to Mike McWain of Pasco for the all-American homage to baseball inked across his body.

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson and Ty Cobb are etched on his skin in mostly black and shades of gray, along with Yankee Stadium, baseball gear and McWain's children.

He was featured in the Herald this spring, and said then that the favorite part of his body art is the detail on the baseballs.

"I really liked how the stitches turned out best," he said. "The red just pops."

Entrants paid $10 each with the money donated to the Tri-Cities Cancer Center by the contest organizer, the Modified Dolls, a Tri-City-based organization of tattooed and pierced women who raise money for charity.

Diana Bedoy of Pasco may not have taken home a prize, but the contest was a chance to honor her parents.

On one arm are purple and blue hearts with the dates her mother lived and on the other arm are crossed wrenches to remember her mechanic father.

He "flipped" when she got her first tattoo, a little heart, at the age of 18, she said. But 15 years later she thinks that he would have appreciated, if not the art, the thought that she's remembered him with a tattoo.

A horned-demon "hannya mask" on the calf of Petra Simmons of Spokane won her the prize for best oriental tattoo for work done in the Spokane area.

The image "appealed to me because I don't think beauty is skin deep," she said.

Legend has it that a beautiful, but viciously mean, Japanese princess was punished by being forced to wear the mask of a red demon, Simmons said.

She also has a trio of Chinese lucky cats, representing her husband, herself and her son on her leg.

Judges studied designs for the overall quality, placement, execution and how well the type of art was achieved, said Alex Everett of 13 Shades Tattoo in Kennewick, one of four judges. Portraits should look lifelike, for instance, and "new school" tattoos should have a painterly quality with soft blends of different colors, he said.

Jason Elliott, whose tattoos were done by Jerry Alvarez of the Tri-Cities, took the prizes in three categories: black and gray, portrait and sleeve. Derek Sams of Kennewick took best color. His tattoo was done by Jesse Walsh of Pasco, who also did McWain's baseball tattoos. McWain also won the full back tattoo category.

The final winner was Holly Roettger-Duncan, the Kennewick nurse who founded Modified Dolls, in the best traditional art category for work done by Jeanie Newby from the Spokane area.

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