- Travel and Places
Local celebrations of the unusual, undesirable, and just plain weird
All work and no play can make any town a boring place to live. Therefore, almost every burg, no matter how small, has at least one annual community celebration. These range from the standard holiday celebrations such as Independence Day fireworks or Veterans' Day parades to more individualized heritage or harvest festivals.
With such an abundance of local festivals, a few communities have come up with more creative celebrations. These typically humorous festivals are held to either better fit the local culture or to stand out as being unique.
From celebrations of annoying pests to world championships in nonexistent sports, here are some of the more unusual local festivals in America.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it
Many cities celebrate something the area is famous for or has in abundance, such as a watermelon or azalea festival. But what if a town does not have anything worth celebrating?
This was the case in Clute, Texas, a small city on the hot and humid Gulf Coast. Locals joked that the only natural resource the town had in abundance was mosquitoes. So, Clute is now home to the annual Mosquito Festival, held the last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in July. Along with a carnival and nightly concerts, the Mosquito Festival includes competitions such as the "Mosquito Chase" 5K run, a Mosquito Legs Contest (for humans with skinny legs), and a Mosquito Calling Contest. It is still not clear how, or especially why, anyone would try to call mosquitoes.A 26-foot-tall mosquito named Willie Man-Chew serves as mascot for the event. In true Texas fashion, not only is Willie the world's biggest mosquito, he also sports a cowboy hat and boots.
A similar lack of attractions and abundance of an unwelcome resource led the panhandle town of Beaver, Oklahoma, to sponsor a World Cow Chip Throwing Championship. For the uninitiated, cow chips are (preferably dried) pieces of cattle manure. Contestants throw the roughly disc-shaped patties, and the farthest toss wins the prize.
Amazingly enough, Beaver is not the only place in the country where people fling poo. It is simply home to the world championship of the sport, with winners from other locales traveling to Beaver to compete for the title.
The event is a big enough deal that the town of Beaver now has a crown-wearing anthromorphic cow patty as a mascot. A large statue of a beaver holds what is likely the world's largest (and only) cow chip statue.
That’s bull, too
For a different kind of BS entirely, check out New Harmony, Indiana, in September. That is when the town holds its Big Whopper Liar's Contest. The contest is more about tall tales than straight-up lying ability, as each competitor gets four minutes to tell the biggest whopper of a story they can invent. No, really. That's the truth.
"Throwing things" is a fairly common theme among oddball festivals. The odder the object being thrown, the more popular the sport seems to be.
So, if cow chips do not pose enough of a challenge, perhaps you should try the Typewriter Toss in Springfield, Missouri. The event is held each year on April 22, otherwise known as Secretaries Day. Instead of throwing for distance, the goal of the event is to hit a bulls-eye painted on the ground from a height of 50 feet. (Of course, the real goal is to see the typewriter explode in the most violent crash possible.)
Then you have the Great Fruitcake Toss of Manitou Springs, Colorado. Held the first week of January (to get rid of unwanted Christmas fruitcakes), the Toss includes separate categories for throwing the fruitcake by hand or launching it with a mechanical catapult. There is also a Fruitcake Derby for those ever-popular wheeled fruitcakes, and an art show for, well, artistic fruitcakes.
The oddest of all may be the Interstate Mullet Toss of Pensacola, Florida. No, it does not involve throwing really bad hairdos from the 1980s. The "Mullet" is a type of small saltwater fish. The "Interstate" part refers to the event's location right on the border between Florida and Alabama. And the "Toss" refers to the action in this contest: namely, throwing fish from Florida over the state line into Alabama. Each April, hordes of people throw about 300 pounds of mullet from Florida to Alabama, presumably because they do not like Alabama. Oh, and there is the goal of having the longest toss, with some of the farthest fish flying over 150 feet.