Guide to America’s Oddest Festivals
A festival provides the opportunity to get out for the day, have some fun, sample random food and take part in activities one would never imagine doing.
Festivals are also the ideal excuse to embark on an RV rental vacation.
Road-tripping your way across the country to visit your favorite festivals often proves to be an once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is also the perfect opportunity to get to spend quality time with friends and family.
Love festivals, but hate the crowds? Well here at Jurnii, we've developed a guide to the most unusual festivals in the US. From events that test your wit and physical skill, to traditional and historical fairs suitable for the whole family, this easy-to-use guide has it all!
Made famous by the movie of the same title, Groundhog Day is an event featuring the likes of Phil the Groundhog and an astounding array of entertainment, arts and hoards of foods, including pancake breakfasts.
When: January 29 – February 2
Where: 102 W Mahoning St, Punxsutawney, PA
Not a fan of fruitcake? Well there’s no better way to get rid of it than at the annual Fruitcake Toss festival in Manitou Springs. Either throw or catapult the damn thing as far as you can, before checking out the art show or taking part in a relay.
When: January 8
Where: Manitou Springs, CO
Fellsmere Frogleg Festival
Frogs legs aren’t just something the French do well; the folk of Fellsmere also do a pretty fine job of them too. Over 6,000 pounds of these critters are consumed over this weekend, satisfying the hunger of 80,000 Kermit-loving visitors.
When: Third weekend of January
Where: Fellsmere, FL
24-Hour Marriage Marathon
Always wanted a dream wedding but can’t afford it? How does a ceremony atop New York’s tallest tower sound? This isn’t a shot gun wedding; in fact it will most likely be one of the romantic things you will ever do. 14 couples over 24 hours tie the knot here each and every year. The application process is simple, so what are you waiting for?
When: Valentine’s Day (February 14)
Where: New York, NY
Expand you knowledge of the history and nature of the eagle in this informative event on the importance of the eagle. The festival includes educational displays, exhibitions, lectures, Native American art and performances, live music and nature tours.
When: February 5
Where: Rains School District Campus, 1759 W US Highway 69, Emory, TX
Celebrity Impersonators Convention
Bringing look-alikes, tribute artists, agents and producers together, this convention celebrates the celebrity world, in what can only be described as a tacky fashion. Live the weekend like a movie star, dressing up as whoever you feel worthy. This festival is great for a laugh!
When: February 21 - 25
Where: Palm Springs, CA
International Rotten Sneaker Contest
Definitely one of America’s more strange festivals, the Rotten Sneaker Contest allows participants to content for the smelliest shoes, with the winner having their prized possessions placed in the prestigious “Hall of Fume”.
Where: Montpelier, VT
International Pancake Race
This is a day when racers done a head scarf and apron, and race down the streets of Liberal, all while flipping a pancake in a frying pan. Other festivities include a cooking contest, eating competitions and a parade, ensuring a flipping good time is has by all
When: March 8
Where: Liberal, KS
Tattoo-clad bodies unite each year in Tampa at the annual Tattoofest to compare ink and add to their collection. This festival attracts a rare kind of crowd, but don’t let that deter you. With competitions and entertainment throughout the day, there is enough to keep visitors amused for hours.
When: March 24 – 27
Where: Tampa, FL
Interstate Mullet Toss
If you get your kicks throwing fish around, boy is this festival perfect for you. Competition heats up every year in April, where the person who can throw a one-and-a-half-pound fish the furthest, wins the title of the day!
When: End of April
Where: Pensacola, FL
Ozark UFO Conference
If you think there is something else out there, be sure to pay a visit to the Ozark UFO Conference, where you will be able to listen to knowledgeable speakers talk about their theories and make you certain that UFOs do in fact exist.
When: April 8 - 10
Where: 2 Caney Valley Drive, Plumerville, AR
World Cow Chip Throwing Contest
Cow chip throwing is a popular past time throughout the state of Oklahoma but the concentration of experts can be found within the town of Beaver. The stories you will hear are all true, so when you visit be prepared to duck to avoid the need for facial reconstruction.
Where: Beaver, OK
World’s Largest Trivia Contest
Trivia buffs from across the country make a beeline for Stevens Point each April for the world’s largest trivia contest. Taking place over a 54-hour period, this contest will test more than your collection of useless information; it will also test your stamina and endurance.
When: April 16 - 18
Where: Stevens Point, WI
Bonnie & Clyde Festival
Those interested in the fascinating story behind the Bonnie and Clyde saga will have a ball at this festival. Watch re-enactments, meet some of their relatives and visit the local museum, which gives a fascinating insight into the lives of America’s most famous criminal couple.
When: Saturday closest to May 23
Where: Gibsland, LA
Memphis in May – World Champion Barbeque Contest
This finger licking 3-day festival sees the best of the BBQ world come out in the open, along with 30 tons of pork, just waiting to be gobbled up by 90,000 onlookers. Competitions for best barbeque sauce and the hottest wings also keep the competitive edge in check.
When: Month long
Where: Memphis, TN
This is a festival perfect for kids going through the stage when they love creepy crawlies. Many of the state’s native slugs are on display here, with tons of fun games sure to keep the young ones amused.
When: June 25 - 26
Where: Eatonville, WA
Vegas Ventriloquist Convention
Ventriloquist fans unite at this convention every June to share tips and stories. While some may find this wacky, to this group it’s life!
Where: Las Vegas, NV
Contrary to its title, this festival is not just all about throwing watermelons around. Live entertainment goes off here, while watermelon seed spitting contests bring an element of weird on board. However, the melon eating competition would have to be the highlight of the four-day festivities; even if it’s just to cool off and munch on everyone’s favorite summer fruit.
When: June 23 - 26
Where: Luling, TX
National Hollerin’ Contest
Think you can holler louder than anyone you know? All your skills will be put to the test in the National Hollerin’ Contest, where the person who can make the most noise, takes home the prize.
When: June 19
Where: Dunn, NC
All-American Soapbox Derby
Regarded as the greatest amateur racing event in the world, the All-American Soap Box Derby encourages the youth of today to engage in workmanship, competition and perseverance, while at the same time providing a great show for onlookers.
When: End of July
Where: Akron, OH
International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship
Ever wanted to know just how far you would be able to spit a cherry pit? Well this festival will give you the chance to measure it, and who knows, you may even win a prize!
When: July 2
Where: 9351 E. Eureka Rd, Eau Claire, MI
Pillow Fighting World Championships
While it may not be your traditional pillow fighting, it’s still a hell of a lot of fun. This festival is all about getting dirty…literally. Throw in some pillows, good food and hilarious entertainment and you’ve got yourself one festival you really don’t want to miss.
When: July 4
Where: 200 Warm Springs Road, Kenwood, CA
This one-day extravaganza celebrates the redneck culture like no other festival could. With activities like the Hubcap Hurl, the Bobbin’ for Pig’s Feet Fest, and Redneck Horseshoes, who among us couldn’t possibly have a silly good time?
When: July 10
Where: East Dublin, GA
Attracting the world’s largest collection of spam lovers, this festival sees endless pounds of spam shoveled down throats in endless competitions that provide laughable entertainment for onlookers. Spam of every kind can be found here, so be sure to come with an empty stomach.
When: July 1- 7
Where: Austin, MN
Underwater Music Festival
This quirky underwater concert would have to be one of the most unique around. Located just off Florida Keys, this event attracts over 600 enthusiastic divers, all keen to take part in an underwater masterpiece. Broadcast over radio waves, this event creates quite a spectacle both under and above the water.
When: July 10
Where: Big Pine Key, FL
World’s Largest Bagel Breakfast
Each year, the local Bagel factory bakes the “world’s largest bagel” before sending it down the streets on a parade. This culminates in a street fair with great live entertainment and of course the chance to sample delicious bagels.
When: Last Week of July
Where: 500 Broadway Ave., Mattoon, IL
Some say that to really understand what the Burning Man Festival is all about you have to experience it first-hand. But in a nutshell, it’s basically a week-long festival of arts and entertainment that culminates in the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy.
When: August 29 – September 5, 2011
Where: Black Rock Desert, NV
Celebrating the birth of the burger, this festival is a must for anyone who enjoys a good burger…so pretty much everyone! Join in the fun of the ketchup slide and the bun toss before chomping down on all the burgers you can eat!
When: First Saturday of August
Where: Seymour, WI
Corn Palace Festival
Held in the world’s only Corn Palace, this festival celebrates the harvest by putting on a show with acclaimed musicians, fantastic food and a carnival atmosphere.
When: Last week of August
Where: Mitchell, SD
Las Vegas Star Trek Convention
Nerds and geeks unite at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention every year in August, where everything Star Trek comes to life. Special guests from the series and movies generally make an appearance every year, exciting hard-core fans time and time again!
When: August 11 - 14
Where: The Rio Suites Hotel, 3700 W. Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV
Montana Testicle Festival
Tantalize your taste buds at the Montana Testicle Festival: home to the tastiest testicles in town. The annual event attracts a titillating 10,000 people; all seeking to sample the world’s finest bull testicles in a testy festy fashion. You’ll be sure to leave saying “I had a ball at the Montana Testicle Festival”.
When: August 3 – 7
Where: Rock Creek Lodge just outside of Clinton, MT
National Hobo Convention
As one of the last authentic American breeds it only seems fair that a whole convention be dedicated to the hobo. Auctions of hobo paraphernalia, hobo jams and storytelling fill up this weekend, with the option of dressing up as Hobo pretty much essential.
When: Second weekend of August.
Where: Britt, IA
National Lentil Festival
The Palouse Region of Washington and Idaho grows one-third of the country’s lentils so it makes sense that a celebration of this legume should occur here. Parades, athletic events and street fairs consume these 3 days of festivities, with sampling of the local produce a must.
When: August 19 – 21
Where: 415 N. Grand Avenue, Pullman, WA
Potato Feast Days
Lovers of all things potato are sure to have a ball at the Potato Feast Days in Houlton. From potato picking to the Potato Barrel Rolling Contest, this even provides fun for the whole family, with some tasty treats guaranteed along the way.
When: August 21 - 23
Where: Houlton, ME
Bald is Beautiful Convention
Is the hair on your head beginning to thin and you haven’t quite come to terms with it? Well, you will feel right at home at this convention, where ceremonial chants, feel good clinics and useful advice will leave those feeling a little like they are aging too quickly, rejuvenated and proud to be bald!
When: September 11-13
Where: Morehead City, NC
If there is one thing American’s love, it’s beef: and lot’s of it! Beef-A-Rama is the perfect celebration of this, boasting and roasting 60 beef roasts: the equivalent to 1,200 pounds of delicious meaty flesh.
When: Last Saturday of September
Where: Minocqua, WI
Never has a title been more true to its purpose than the West Virginia Hick Festival. This 3-day event promises non-stop axe-throwing, horse-pulling, jug-playing and back country girls competing for the exclusive title of the Hick Beauty Contest Queen.
When: September 1 - 3
Where: Parsons, WV
International Bat Festival
Known as the only bat festival in America, this event celebrates the 300,000 Mexican Freetail Bats that call this part of the world home for 6 months out of every year. Partake in lectures, exhibits and breakfasts under the bats, and be sure to have a batty time.
When: September 20 -21
Where: Carlsbad, NM
Wizard of OZ Fest
This festival is entirely devoted to the masterpiece that was (and is), The Wizard of Oz. Follow the Yellow Brick Road and you will uncover an enchanted festival that keeps the splendor of this timeless classic alive.
When: September 16 – 18
Where: Chesterton, IN
Welcome to the world’s largest gathering of art cars; a place where artistic expression isn’t just an interest…it’s a way of life. This festival celebrates unique and artistic cars and is a must for art and automobile lovers alike.
When: October 8 - 10
Where: Sacramento, CA
Boasting three days of fabulous food, terrific music and safe, family fun, the Avocado Festivals isn’t just for lovers of avocado. With contests and cook-offs, the whole family is sure to enjoy this weekend with a campervan rental.
When: October 7 – 9
Where: 4299 Carpentaria Avenue, Carpentaria, CA
Banner Elk Woolly Worm Festival
The festival boasts 2 days of crafts, food and music, with the highlight of course being the wooly worm races. These furry, brown caterpillars compete in the thousands, with heats consisting of 20 worms at a time taking place over the two-days of fun and excitement.
When: Third weekend of October
Where: Banner Elk, NC
Beanfest and Great Championship Outhouse Race
This weekend full of food, music and madness centers on the all important bean cook-off. This is quickly followed by massive bean consumption fest, which precedes a hilarious outhouse race down the main street of town.
When: October 28 – 30
Where: Mountain View, AK
National Yo-Yo Contest
Yo-Yo fanatics across the country unite in the National Yo-Yo Contest, where moves like the Time Warp, Shoot the Moon, Split the Atom and Velvet Rolls are taken to a whole new level.
When: Early October
Where: Chico, CA
Punkin’ Chunkin’ Contest
Held every year just after Halloween, what better way to get rid of those rotting pumpkins than the Pumpkin Chunkin? This annual pumpkin throwing contest has the locals bringing out the big guns, with cannons, catapults and centrifugal machines a common sight here.
When: Just after Halloween
Where: Morton, IL,
Hailing all lovers of horror, thriller and sci-fi films! Shriekfest is an internationally recognized festival that displays films from across the world, enthralling audiences and taking the scary movie genre to a whole new realm.
When: October 1 - 4
Where: Los Angeles, CA
National Storytelling Festival
This 3-day outdoor festival features performances by internationally-recognized artists and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Hear stories told with flair and enthusiasm; a reminder of what the good old days were like.
When: First full weekend of October
Where: Jonesborough, TN
Doo Dah Parade
This notorious brand of wackiness takes weird to a whole new level in the annual Doo Dah Parade. From Pasadena Zombies and a robot cat named “Boo-Boo Kitty” to “Kinetic Pastry Science Mobile Muffins”, this is a festival that has something for everyone.
Where: Pasadena, CA
Phone: 800 307 7977
Big Pig Jig
The Big Pig Jig was created by combining a barbeque competition with an arts and crafts fair. 100 teams compete in front of 25,000 spectators, vying for the prize for best BBQ pork, valued at a staggering $12,000.
When: November 5 - 6
Where: Vienna, GA
Christmas Boat Parade
It’s that time of year again! The Christmas trees are out, the decorations are in their plenty and Santa is on his way, so what better way to celebrate than with a Christmas Boat Parade. Up to 100 boats line the waters of the harbor putting on quite a show for onlookers who want something more extravagant than simple house decorations.
When: December 15 - 19
Where: Newport Beach, CA
National Finals Rodeo
This not to miss Rodeo event is ideal for all those interested in the rodeo way of life. See cowboys at their finest and marvel at their skills on a bucking bull.
When: First full week of December
Where: Paradise, NV