After celebrating a raucous 4th of July weekend, I’m sure you must be ready to commemorate even more wonderfully eccentric people and places around the nation. Buckle your seatbelts or pack a bag and book your flights, because we’ve lined up 10 of the greatest, wildest, and wackiest events that actually take place across America!
1. Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race
A race between pimped out cycle-powered pieces of art that can travel through mud and water? Sign me up! Well if you’re in Baltimore during the month of May, you can marvel at the creative and quirky genius of one of the world’s more unusual races involving kinetic sculptures (defined as a work of art that has moving pieces, or is naturally or machine powered) that compete in a 15-mile course along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and into the Chesapeake Bay. The cleverly engineered vehicles can have just one pilot or can be powered by a team of “kinetinauts.” The race is backed by the American Visionary Art Museum (FYI – Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips is one of the museum’s permanent collection artists).
Kinetic sculpture racing originated in Ferndale, California, in 1969 when local sculptor Hobart Brown modified his son’s tricycle with additional wheels and other embellishments. A fellow artist challenged Brown to a race with his own creation, and soon other artists joined in to hold the first race. (Wikipedia)
2. Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival
Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s dairy industry wouldn’t be mooo-ving forward without a little by-broduct – cow poo. The pancake-shaped dried cow manure is what’s known as “cow chip.” While kids from back in the day would have had fun throwing them around (mostly at each other and aimed at the face in particular), it’s now become an official contest and festival to celebrate these dried discs of dung. There’s also a parade, a classic walk and run, arts and crafts, a children’s game tent, and a beer garden, but the main focus is always on the keenly contested throw. This is one event that prides itself on being a big pile of chip!
The annual World Cow Chip Throwing Championship takes place every April in Beaver, Oklahoma.
3. Doo Dah Parade
Pasadena – Los Angeles, California
Wild, wacky, and irreverently funny with a touch of absurdity is how you could probably sum up the heady cocktail that is the annual Doo Dah Parade. Created in 1978 as a parody to the more serious Rose Parade, the event showcases a number of offbeat floats that carry a number of oddball participants. Although conceived in Pasadena, the parade has spread far and wide to celebrate all things farcical in cities such as Ocean City (New Jersey), Columbus (Ohio), and Kalamazoo (Michigan). Many groups take part in order to raise money for various charities.
The parade today features participants such as the BBQ & Hibachi Marching Grill Team, The Shopping Cart Drill Team, The Radioactive Chicken Heads, and the Committee for the Right to Bear Arms – a group that marches in precise formations while carrying mannequin arms. (Wikipedia)
4. The Wayne Chicken Show
This galline gala is a humorous celebration of all things chicken, and is held on the second Saturday of July. It begins with All Hen’s Eve (Henoween) and includes a parade, chicken humor, chicken games, chicken costumes, chicken dancing, chicken crowing contest, chicken flying contest, hard-boiled egg eating contest, and of course, a chicken dinner, to name just a few. Seriously, what the cluck were they thinking?
5. The Great Outhouse Races
Jackson County, North Carolina
To bid farewell to winter, the Sapphire Valley Resort in North Carolina hosts a unique race every February that involves outhouses on skis. Yes, you heard right – The Great Outhouse Races sees contestants construct and decorate their own outhouses, place them on skis, take a seat in them, and race down the slopes. While all the costumes and stylized outhouses (with colorful names such as “Party Pooper”), food, and live music entertain the crowds, all proceeds from the event go to charity – now that’s a good reason to flush your dignity down the toilet and take a comical slide down the slopes!
6. The Idiotarod
What better for jackass jousters to race each other while using shopping carts as their trusty steeds? The Idiotarod celebrates these noble and kooky knights, who race each other in bizarre costumes (think helmeted Vikings in adult diapers) through major metropolitan areas. The race is now held in cities like Portland, New York City, Chicago (CHIditarod), and even Vancouver, to name just a few. While winning is not a priority at all (they sometimes make detours to pubs for a mid-race pint) in most of the races, flamboyance is rewarded sometimes with a “Best in Show” award while others take place to benefit local charities.
In 2014, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race sent a cease-and-desist order to Idiotarod NYC, asserting that the name “Idiotarod” infringed its trademark in “Iditarod.” Idiotarod NYC responded by renaming the event as “Idiotarodorama NYC (aka ‘The Desistarod’).” (Wikipedia)
7. World Championship Shovel Races
Angel Fire, New Mexico
If you’re done with shoveling snow over winter, then head to the Angel Fire Resort to put those shovels to a more fun use. The World Championship Shovel Races lets you slide down a snowy slope while resting aerodynamically flat on your shovel, competing for the best time with other shovel racers who travel at crazy speeds (sometimes up to 70 miles per hour). While there are certainly pros who have enough control to slide down in style, the event is open to all including kids as young as six. Trust me – It’s definitely going to be something you’ll dig.
The event got started in the 1970s when lift operators would ride their shovels down the mountain at the end of their shifts.
8. Bed Races (Summer Moon Festival)
Welcome to the home of astronaut Neil Armstrong – Wapakoneta, Ohio. The space-themed event held in his honor includes rocket building, a moon pie-eating contest, and a moon rock hunt. However, the highlight is the traditional bed race, where teams race hospital beds (not more than 5 members in a team with one team member laying down in the bed) through a course while completing various tasks. Teams usually dress up to support a charity of their choice (all cash prizes go toward charity) and compete to soak in the glory of the coveted Traveling Bed Pan trophy.
9. The Honobia Bigfoot Festival and Conference
Sasquatch devotees finally have a festival of their own. On the first weekend of October, Bigfoot enthusiast and scholars come together in southeastern Oklahoma to camp out and enjoy Bigfoot-themed arts and crafts, souvenirs, live music, and food. You can also catch interesting guest speakers who’ve either seen or studied the big hairy man. Admission to the full festival is free but conference lectures charge an extra fee. All donations go toward helping local students through the Honobia Bigfoot Scholarship Fund.
10. International Camel and Ostrich Races
Virginia City, Nevada
Want see camels careening toward you? Want to see ostriches dashing for the finish line? Want to see zebras earn their racing stripes? Well you need to make it to the International Camel and Ostrich Races in Virginia City (to be held September 9-11). This old Nevada mining town once used camels to work in the gold mines, transporting heavy items back and forth. What started off as just a joke 57 years ago is now an extravaganza where animals race each other and also include a camel parade through town. This year, the first 100 kids to enter on September 11 get a free camel ride – giddyup!
If you’ve got your fill of weird and wacky, but still know that we may have missed out on some events, please let us know in the comments below!