61 Things I Learned At The National Hobo Convention

    Everything that happened to me while spending three nights with hoboes.

    1. The town of Britt, Iowa, is known as the hobo capital of the world.

    2. A hobo jungle is a place where hoboes camp.

    3. The difference between hoboes, tramps and bums. Hoboes are not bums!

    4. Hoboes don't like bums.

    5. There are four types of people who attend the Hobo Convention.

    6. When a hobo dies they are said to have "caught the Westbound."

    7. Burlap plays a significant part in hobo memorial ceremonies.

    8. The memorial ceremony is actually pretty emotional.

    9. Hoboes have an incredible respect for their dead.

    10. Hoboes show respect for their dead by tapping their walking sticks on gravestones.

    11. Riding a train really loosens your bladder.

    12. The sparkly hobo shirt is a surprisingly popular shirt.

    13. Everything is free at the Hobo Jungle.

    14. Hoboes can make some great food, and they eat a lot of beans.

    15. The entire Hobo Convention is completely public except for one Hobo Council meeting.

    16. Even hoboes know "Call Me Maybe."

    View this video on YouTube

    Every night for 3 hours hoboes would entertain the crowd with music. A hobo named Pied Piper always played songs on his recorder. Two standout songs he did were Call Me Maybe and Love Fool by The Cardigans.

    Also, you won't be able to get his version out of your head. Sorry!

    17. One of the best parts of winning Hobo King or Queen is that this lady paints your portrait.

    18. A cat in hobo symbol language means "a kindhearted lady lives here."

    19. Bags made of Capri Suns exist.

    20. Hobo autographs are a hot commodity.

    21. You can make a giant fireball if you fill your mouth with corn starch, spit it out, and light it on fire.

    22. Backwoods Hobo Jack is kind of a reality TV star.

    23. Frog is my favorite former Hobo King. He is also one of the most powerful hoboes.

    24. Hobo Lump is my favorite former Hobo Queen.

    25. She also may be a hoarder.

    26. Hoboes have their own creed, and they take it very seriously.

    27. Don't party with hoboes.

    28. The best time to hear hobo stories is at night around the campfire.

    29. The Crumb Boss has the most stressful job at the hobo jungle. They also have the best parking spot.

    30. Hoboes have awesome names and everyone should have one because they are so much better than real names.

    31. Don't pay for your hobo name.

    32. The most popular attire for current younger hoboes are these overalls.

    33. Hoboeing became more difficult after 9/11.

    34. Hobo is not a derogatory word. Hoboes are VERY proud of being hoboes.

    35. Some hoboes are millionaires.

    36. It's much easier to be Hobo Queen than Hobo King.

    Basically, any woman can be a Queen.

    37. Most hoboes have big, awesome beards.

    38. There is an "Unknown Hobo."

    39. The best way to get a ride when hitchhiking is to just lay down on the side of the road.

    40. Hoboes are really good at memorizing poems.

    41. Hoboes fall into the fire fairly often.

    42. Mulligan stew is delicious.

    43. Ramen noodles are the best food to have for hoboeing.

    44. These VHS camcorders still work, and some people still use them.

    45. Hoboeing is like fishing.

    46. Good boots, long pants, and leather gloves are essential for train hopping.

    47. Hoboes have some awesome pick up lines.

    48. Police scanners are popular tools on the rails.

    49. There are hoboes in Czechoslovakia.

    50. NEVER take pictures of Little Miss Britt.

    51. Hoboes have their own wedding ceremonies.

    52. Rhubarb plays a significant part in hobo weddings.

    This couple got married the second night.

    53. Hoboes even have their own vows.

    54. Hobo Kings and Queens are legit royalty. The crowning of the Hobo King and Queen is the highlight of the convention.

    55. Campaign signs don't guarantee a win.

    56. The best place to campaign for Hobo King and Queen is during the Britt city parade.

    57. Your speech is the most important part of being elected King or Queen.

    58. The Hobo King and Queen is determined by applause.

    59. Minneapolis Jim was a favorite because he's a bridger. A bridger is a hobo who rode both steam and diesel locomotives.

    60. I also learned some inside information about this year's King and Queen.

    61. And last but not least, NEVER camp next to a sewer in a pile of garbage.

    All photos by Matt Stopera.