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2. The Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab Challenge
The fact that there’s an annual hermit crab race in Virgina Falls, VA is dwarfed only by the question of how, exactly, you’d train a hermit crab to compete in a race. Do you buy it a tiny membership to a tiny gym? Set it up on a tiny treadmill with thimble-sized speakers blaring “Eye of the Tiger?”
3. Mashed Potato Wrestling at the Barnesville Potato Days Festival
Nothing says “summer” quite like ripping your shirt off and pummeling an opponent with a fistful of starch. The Barnesville Potato Day Festival is the ideal getaway for the potato-loving pugilist in your family, boasting a schedule that includes mashed potato sculpting, a potato peeling contest, and a vicious rivalry with the Eggplant Day Parade across the river.
4. Ernest Hemingway Look-A-Like Contest
Hemingway’s legacy lives strong in Key West, Florida, where he lived with his wife Pauline during the late 1920’s. Each year, burly men with white beards convene to compete for the honor of being crowned that year’s best Hemingway doppelganger. Folks that look the most like the wooly wordsmith will take home the gold, while everyone else is tarred, feathered, and hunted for sport by the winner.
5. The National Hobo Convention
Taking place in Britt, Iowa, the National Hobo Convention is chockfull of amazing activities for the proud hobo brethren of our land: toilet bowl races, hobo bingo, ugly shoe contests and, of course, the momentous coronation of the Hobo King and Queen. Shockingly, hotel reservations are not hard to come by.
6. Humungus Fungus Festival
It’s how every timeless fairy-tale starts: Once upon a time, a giant mushroom was discovered in the magical land of Crystal Falls, Michigan. Now each August, mushroom fans congregate in the town to celebrate the fun fungus with a number of activities, including a colossal 10-by-10-foot, mushroom-topped pizza.
7. The World Championship Cardboard Boat Race
The rules of the cardboard boat race are simple: real cardboard allowed only. Sound ill advised? Absolutely. And it’s a lot more fun than sitting through a screening of Titanic 3D. The cardboard boat race draws hundreds to the small Arkansas town of Herber Springs each July, and it’s an absolute blast for amateur seafarers to test their mettle. Spoiler alert: all of the ships sink.
8. Roswell UFO Festival
Thousands of conspiracy theorists are still convinced that the truth is somewhere out there, and what better way to celebrate it than to descend on the world capital of UFO sightings to hang out with fellow believers? Activities include faking the moon landing, “Who Here Is An Alien,” and a delightful lunch buffet.
9. Okie Noodling Tournament
Noodling for catfish, also known as “hand-fishing,” is an old southern backwoods tradition. Since 2001, thousands of hand-fishing enthusiasts from around the south have assembled in Oklahoma to celebrate the sport. If you’re too squeamish to try noodling yourself, there are plenty of other activities centered around the tournament for the attendees, like going home and letting the real men fish for catfishes with their bare hands. Also: face painting.
10. Annual Hollerin’ Contest
Rev up those vocal cords, folks—it’s your chance to prove once and for all that you are the absolute best at being super loud. (And your parents said that that would never come in handy.) Watch out for the guy in the picture, though; Kevin Jasper has won the top award three years in a row.
11. Coney Island Mermaid Parade
A colorful tradition for the last 30 years, the Coney Island Mermaid Festival’s highlight is the mermaid parade, where hundreds of women and men dressed as the enchanting sea creatures walk down Surf Avenue and onto the famed Brooklyn boardwalk. Question: if you stop off for a bowl of clam chowder, does that count as cannibalism?
12. Combine Demolition Derby
And just when you thought that demolition derbies couldn’t get any more blue collar. Unless you grew up in a rural area, you might not know what a combine harvester is. Answer: it’s a large piece of farming machinery that’s not at all intended for a demolition derby, which means that it smashes real good. Sate your thirst for flying scrap metal each June in Lind, North Dakota.
13. Hard Boiled Egg Eating Contest at The Chicken Show
The three-day Wayne, Nebraska Chicken Show has a lot to offer, but if you can gobble more eggs than Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, you should try your hand at this contest. The best egg eater wins a $400 prize, which should cover most of the medical bill.
14. The Luling Watermelon Thump
If noshing on mashed potatoes or hard boiled eggs doesn’t sound like your ideal summer, then maybe you’ll be better off attending the Luling Watermelon Thump, where attendees watch live music, are invited to compete in watermelon eating and, of course, take part in seed-spitting competitions. (No Gallaghers included.)
16. The Duct Tape Festival
It’s been said that all a man needs to survive is a roll of duct tape and a bottle of WD-40. With a product that’s s so universally useful, it’s no surprise that folks flock to Avon, Ohio—the birthplace of duct tape—to throw the “redneck repair kit” a huge party every year. The festival’s centerpiece is a parade of duct tape floats, wonder if any of them can top that Star Wars fan art above.
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