Wacky, curious, zany, quirky, strange, odd, morbid, unique, hilarious, eccentric.
Those are likely the words that would come to mind if you were trying to describe the festivals you’ll find on this list. And, if that’s the case, you wouldn’t be wrong. They’re quite, hmm, let’s put it this way: peculiar. But, before we dismiss them as something that doesn’t concern us, consider this question: Why do we organize and coordinate festivals in the first place?
The answer is actually quite simple: festivals bring our communities together. They do so in a fun way, whether its intention is to celebrate a unique heritage, or simply to blow off steam. And so we say go for it. Make your festivals as quirky as possible. Wear your eccentricities with pride!
And while you’re planning your own festival, here are 9 that are celebrated across the United States and that have helped pave the way for odd celebrations everywhere!
: Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin
The When: Undecided for 2015
The Why: In a word: history. And it starts with the pioneers of the plains. Amidst their settling, they and their fellow travelers faced harsh conditions, but even more so when they pressed forth into the plains, where both water and timber are scarce.
Enter: the cow chip. For those unfamiliar with the term, cow chips are dried pieces of cow dung. Dung, as in feces. Feces as in, well, you get the point. Anyway, somewhere down the line, buffalo hunters discovered that cow chips could be used as fuel — they could be burned to warm the home and to cook their food. Believe it or not, cow chips saved many lives, and, that, my friends, is to be celebrated.
The How: Like any other festival with lasting power, the events have evolved over the years. In 2014, the events included: a 5k run/walk, a 10k run/walk, a beer garden, live music, a Tournament of Chips parade, and the world famous Cow Chip Throw.
: Austin, Texas
The When: April 25th, 2015
The Why: Many of you Winnie the Pooh buffs could probably figure this one out on your own, but, for those less-versed: in one of A.A. Milne’s popular stories, Eeyore, the notoriously depressed donkey, believes that his friends have forgotten his birthday. But, they haven’t. Not at all. Instead, all of Eeyore’s friends collaborate and throw him a surprise birthday party.
And, basically, that’s how this festival began, back in 1963, when University of Texas English students decided to have a party and picnic in the famous donkey’s honor.
The How: Welcoming both children and adults, the festival includes live music, artists for temporary tattoos and face painting, food and drink vendors, large drum circles, and, of course, costumes.
: Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina
The When: June 21st, 2015
The Why: The National Hollerin’ Contest is only one part of the Hollerin’ Heritage Festival, which is essentially in place for one reason: to get back to our roots. As its website states, “Each year, we revive the ‘almost lost’ art of Hollerin’ and seek to preserve our distinct cultural, historical, and agricultural heritage.”
The How: Not sure what Hollerin’ is? Then check out this video:
It isn’t all about the Hollerin’ though! Past events at the festival include: a BBQ cook-off, live music, antique farm equipment displays, living history exhibits, and a classic car show.
More wacky festivals can be found on the next page!
The Where: Avon, Ohio
The When: June 19th – June 21st (2015)
The Why: The evolution of duct tape is actually quite astounding. No, really, hear us out! You see, duct tape was first made in the 1940s and was initially intended to help soldiers waterproof their ammunition cases and make repairs while in the field.
Since then? Well, you may be able to fill in some gaps yourself, but duct tape has become a main-stay of the do-it-yourself fathers. And that’s really what this festival is for — to celebrate fathers (it’s held on Father’s Day weekend, annually), and the handy-dandy rolls of duct tape that have helped them get out of sticky situations.
The How: While the events for 2015 are still being decided, past events of the festival have included: a “Decades of Duck Tape” theme, a sticky fashion show, a parade, games, rides, food, and live entertainment.
: Detroit, Michigan
The When: March 22nd, 2015
The Why: Ready for the literal translation? Here it is: “Walk of the Red Dwarf” Still puzzled? If you are, no worries. “Le Nain Rouge” (The Red Dwarf), though believed to have originated in Normandy, France, has roots that run deep in Detroit. For instance, legend has it that Le Nain Rouge was once a protector of Detroit, but that, over time, it has taken on more of a doom-like figure whose presence warns citizens of terrible events to come.
But why celebrate that? Well, with this festival, Detroit isn’t celebrating the presence of Le Nain Rouge; they’re celebrating their liberation from it. 300 years worth, to be exact, of standing up to Le Nain Rouge and fighting for a brighter future.
And how would you celebrate such a thing?
The How: It’s simple, really. People (some that are in costumes) march the streets of Detroit while Le Nain Rouge shouts absurdities at them (known as The Taunt Line). Also, there’s a parade, complete with floats and the like. But wait, there’s also a fire-breathing dragon? A fire-breathing dragon!?
: Nederland, Colorado
The When: March 13th – March 15th (2015)
The Why: Folks, brace yourselves for this one. So, there was this guy… his name was Bredo Morstol. Well, Bredo died one day and, though this may have been a better place to begin this story, Bredo’s family believed quite strongly in cryonics, as in: the freezing (preservation) of the dead. So Bredo’s body was frozen, and kept in the family’s shed. And there it stayed even after his family was deported, only to be discovered, and celebrated, years later.
Coming up on its 14th year, this celebration, known as Frozen Dead Guy Days, has been covered by many media outlets and has since gained much notoriety. Typically, it marks “the end” of winter, and, well, life.
The How: According to their website, the 2015 events are as follows: amazing live music (over 20 live bands), coffin racing, costume polar plunging, frozen t-shirt contests, ice turkey bowling, snowy human foosball, Ice Queen & Grandpa lookalike contest, brain freeze contests, parade of hearses, frozen salmon toss, theatrical wu shu performance, frozen dead poet slam.
More wacky festivals can be found on the next page!
: Black Rock Desert, Nevada
The When: August 30th – September 7th (2015)
The Why: Maybe it’d be best to start with this: the Burning Man website lists the following 10 principles of the festival: radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, immediacy.
Held for a week at the height of summer in one of the hottest places in the U.S., The Burning Man Festival isn’t for the faint of heart. Nor is it your traditional festival — instead, the celebration has induced a culture of its own.
The How: What The Burning Man Festival does is place a “network of dreamers and doers” in the desert. And what comes as a result is the event itself: they build a metropolis. The metropolis, however, is only temporary (harken back to the principles, to “leaving no trace”), and it is filled imaginatively with a dedication to community and art.
For a drones-eye view of the 2014 Burning Man Festival, check out this video:
: Florida Keys
The When: July 11th, 2015
The Why: Aside from it just being an awesome thing to try, and do, the point of emphasis for this quirky festival is reef preservation. While the tunes are being played underwater, so too are tips and instructions on how to properly snorkel and dive in the Florida Keys, in hopes that events like this one, as well as fun events less organized, can be continued by the generations that follow.
The How: It’s actually quite simple: A) dock your boat, B) put on your underwater gear, C) get in the water, and D) enjoy! Once in the water, you’re bound to not only hear the music, but to swim past other festival-goers, some of which took it upon themselves to construct amazing instruments from scratch. To get a glimpse, check out this video:
: Crystal Falls, Michigan
The When: Undecided for 2015
The Why: Here’s something you may not have known: Crystal Falls, Michigan (on the Iron County border of the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin) houses what may be one of the largest and oldest living organisms in the world. And it’s a fungus.
Armillaria Bulbosa is its name and what it produces is typically called a honey mushroom. If you find yourself in Crystal Falls, however, do yourself a favor and don’t go looking for a giant mushroom. Because, chances are that you won’t find it. Instead, the fungus is an integral part to the ecosystem, and it typically only pokes its head out through as honey mushrooms.
The How: In the past, events such as the baking of the Humungus Pizza (10 feet by 10 feet) have occurred, as well as parades, games, live music and cook offs.
Now that you’ve seen these…