- Travel and Places
Funny Festivals, Part 3
Blobs, SPAM™, and other Fool-ish Celebrations
If you are looking for a weekend vacation that is a bit out of the ordinary--or even a lot out of the ordinary--we've got you covered.
Everybody loves SPAM™. Correction: nobody loves SPAM™. "Pork product" is not easy to love. But the folks behind the Pandemonious Potted Pork Festival, otherwise known as SPAMARAMA™, do their best to try. Held the weekend closest to April Fool's Day each year in Austin, Texas, SPAMARAMA™ celebrates both the good and bad sides of SPAM™.
The cook-off includes prizes for both the best- and worst-tasting entries. Some of the concoctions are so bad that the judges require the contestant to take a bite first, and even then each judge is allowed to pass on tasting 3 of the dishes. Other competitions include a SPAM™ calling contest and tug-of-war over a pit of SPAM™ jelly.
Another obscure April Fool's Day event is the St. Stupid's Day Parade in San Francisco. Sponsored by the First Church of the Last Laugh, the parade marches through downtown as participants chant "No more chanting!" and stage goofy events outside office buildings (such as a "sock exchange" outside the local stock exchange).
A bit of IMDB trivia: the 1958 sci-fi flick The Blob was filmed on location in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. In one famous scene of the movie, the title blob attacked the Colonial Theater, causing the mass of people inside to run screaming out the theater doors.
The Colonial Theater still exists, thanks to a restoration effort, and it is now home to Blobfest each July. Festival-goers watch the 50-year-old movie in the Colonial Theater, and run out, screaming, in a re-enactment of the famous scene. There is no real danger, though, and besides, Blob insurance is available to anyone concerned about being attacked by the gelatinous alien from outer space.
The Amazingly Weird Race
Here are the rules: the race course is 38 miles long, and includes both land and water travel. The race craft must be a sculpture, and can have no engine; it must be powered completely by humans or natural forces such as the wind. Each sculpture must contain a homemade puppet created from a dirty sock. The sculptures must follow traffic rules and are required to be polite while passing, although extending a certain middle finger is also encouraged.
This is the World Championship Kinetic Sculpture Race, held each Memorial Day weekend in Ferndale, California. The goal, besides having the most unusual racing sculpture, is to win the race, though there is also a Mediocre Award for finishing exactly in the middle of the pack. The popular Next to Last Award makes for a very interesting end to the race.
Previous winning sculptures from this decades-old race are displayed in the Ferndale Kinetic Sculpture Museum, so you can see the extreme creativity the race inspires. Word has it the race has even been considered for a Nobel Prize, but it has never won, mostly because there is no Nobel category for Weirdness.
Other Odd Festivals
Morehead City, North Carolina, hosts a Bald is Beautiful Convention each September. Prizes are awarded for the Sexiest Bald Head and Most Improved Bald Head, as well as Montel Williams and Telly Savalas look-a-like contests.
The Mustard Family Reunion is held in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, in June. As the name suggests, the event is a family reunion for anyone who has the last name of "Mustard", or any foreign language equivalent.
If catching live poisonous snakes is your idea of a good time, the World's Largest Rattlesnake Roundup in Sweetwater, Texas each March is for you. It is definitely not for me.
If you prefer less dangerous game (or if you happen to be Carl Spackler, Bill Murray's character in Caddyshack) you can opt for the Gopher Count instead. Viola, Minnesota, has put a bounty on the burrowing critters, which wreak havoc with farm crops and equipment. The festival is held in June each year.
You can also check out the Middle of Nowhere Celebration in Ainsworth, Nebraska; the Great American Bathtub Race in Nome, Alaska; the World Shovel Race Championships in Angel Fire, New Mexico; or one of the other funny festivals scattered throughout the country. I am sure you can find one-or even start one-in your neck of the woods.