We love the unconventional. With Americana on our mind, we searched high and low for festivals that celebrate eccentricity on a neighborhood level. From bizarre food festivals to celebrations of hometown characters championing the local way of life, we round up 10 truly unique festivals that proudly wave their freak flags high. Read on to see what’s going on in your neck of the woods.
Testy Festy in Clinton, Montana
Held later this month is the 31st Annual Testicle Festival in Clinton, Montana. The week-long food festival, July 31 through August 4, features Rocky Mountain Oysters, better known as bull testicles. As the world’s largest testicle festival, it attracts more than 15,000 fans annually to eat more than two and half tons of bull balls. Activities include a bull-chop throwing contest, tricycle racing and of course, an eating contest.
National Hollerin’ Contest in Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina
Since 1969, folks have been gathering once a year in Spivey’s Corner in North Carolina for the National Hollerin’ Contest. The daylong event pits neighbors and tourists against each other in hopes of winning the best scream. Vocal champions are crowned in four categories — distress, functional, communicative and pleasure. This year’s event will be on September 14 and includes other competitions such as whistlin’ and conch shell blowin’.
Humungus Fungus Fest in Crystal Falls, Michigan
Home to the world’s largest living fungus, Crystal Falls holds a yearly mushroom festival called Humungus Fungus Fest. The fungus covers 38 acres beneath an Iron County forest and is believed to be 1,500 to 10,000 years old and weigh about 100 tons. Part of this year’s festivities — August 8 through 11 — include fungus fudge, fungus burgers and the largest mushroom pizza ever.
Woollybear Festival in Vermilion, Ohio
The local fixation with the Woollybear Caterpillar started more than three decades ago when northeast Ohio TV weatherman Dick Goddard of Fox8 TV wanted to celebrate the insect’s talent in forecasting. Folklore suggests the severity of an upcoming winter can be predicted by the amount of black versus orange in the caterpillars’ bands. Originally held in Birmingham, Ohio, the event moved to Vermilion in 1980 as it grew in popularity and size, with more than 100,000 spectators yearly.
Spam Jam in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
The Waikiki Spam Jam is an annual block party on three city blocks on the island of Oahu. Spam is a prominent fixture in Hawaiian culture, where residents consume more spam per person than in any other state in the country. Activities include cooking contests, an eating contest (of course!) and creative ways to use the Spam packaging.
Tall Stacks in Cincinnatti, Ohio
Held every few years along the Cincinnati shoreline, the Tall Stacks festival celebrates the city’s riverboat heritage. The festival typically features a number of vintage and replica steamboats from across the eastern United States. Since its last event held in October 2006, the Tall Stacks festivities have quieted down due to a poor economy and weak sponsorship. Here’s hoping this music, art and cultural celebration picks up steam.
Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico
The annual festival of hot air balloons takes place in Albuquerque this year from October 5 through 13th. The nine-day event features over 750 hot air balloons and is considered the largest festival of its kind in the world. Aside from the spectacular sights, events include chainsaw carving contests, photography contests and a film festival.
Calle Ocho in Miami, Florida
Down in Little Havana in South Florida, residents come out to celebrate Calle Ocho, a neighborhood block party featuring local music. From salsa, reggeaton, merengue to bachata, balada, hip hop and more, this street event is full of activities honoring the local Hispanic culture. It even set the record for the longest Conga line back in 1998.
Jumping Frog Jubilee in Frogtown, California
The Jumping Frog Jubilee is one of the longest running (and jumping!) events in California. Dating back to 1893, the fair has a mix of livestock events, fair food and entertainment with the highlight being the annual Frog Jump. Start training your amphibian now for next year’s event, to be held May 15th through the 18th. The current record jump was set in 1986 by Rosie the Ribeter who jumped over 21 feet.
Underwater Music Festival in Florida Keys, Florida
Unfortunately, we just missed the annual Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival in the Florida Keys. Held last weekend, this unique festival typically draws several hundred divers and snorkelers yearly to enjoy the sound of music below the ocean surface. This year’s events included a submerged songfest, “Salute to the Rolling Stone Crabs,” celebrating the Rolling Stones’ 50-year career. Costumed divers portraying band members paid tribute to the sweet stone crab claws, a popular seafood found in the area. There’s always next year!