From a baby-jumping festival in Spain, to rocketing down a hill after cheese in England, to chuckin’ cow chips in Wisconsin, here are 10 of the weirdest festivals you can hit this summer.
Be sure to take a camera. And some Band-Aids.
* May 14-15: The Pulilan Carabao Festival
Many farmers in the Philippines rely on carabaos, also known as water buffalo. Throughout the year, the beasts plow, sweat, and toil in the fields, getting muddy, and receiving little in return for their efforts. However, each May, the town of Pulilan celebrates its favorite farmyard animals.
For two days, the animals are the center of attention. On Day One, farmers shave their carabaos, soften their skin with oil, apply perfume to them, and decorate them with paint and ribbons. In the afternoon, farmers lead the carabaos to the town square to participate in a parade and kneel for blessings before a church. On Day 2, the froo-froo stuff is out the window as the carabaos compete in a race. Close to Manila, you can catch this “no bull” event easily.
* May 18-19: Mike The Headless Chicken Days
In 1945, farmer Lloyd Olsen went to the barn to fetch dinner for his wife and mother-in-law. He spied Mike The Chicken and decided that he would do nicely. He raised his ax, swung it, and lopped off Mike’s head. However, Lloyd accidentally left one ear and the brain stem intact, meaning Mike didn’t die. For the next 18 months, Lloyd and Mike toured the region, charging spectators a quarter to take a gander at the headless bird, which could still eat and crow — sort of.
Today, the city of Fruita, Colorado, honors that poor, brainless bird’s moxie with its annual Mike the Headless Chicken Days that includes a Chicken Dance Contest, a Chicken Recipe Contest, a 5k “Run Like a Headless Chicken” race, Chicken Games, and more. Attending this event is definitely a “no-brainer.”
* May 28: Cooper Hill Cheese Rolling
Though it sounds benign (and kind of goofy), cheese-rolling is very dangerous. Running full-tilt down a very steep hill behind a madly spinning 7-pound wheel of cheese can be well-nigh lethal. In fact, police have attempted to ban the event, but participants have refused to observe the ban. Men and their cheese wheels can not be separated easily, evidently.
So what happens during a cheese roll? Simple: the cheese is set to rolling, and racers zoom down the hill after the cheese. However, as the cheese can reach speeds of up to 70 mph, it rarely happens that someone catches the cheese. First to the bottom wins the cheese. Glorious.
* June 8-9: The Baby-Jumping Festival of Calacho, Spain
In celebration of the Catholic festival of Corpus Christi, grown men leap over newborns, with full parental consent. Donning scary, vaguely Elvis-like costumes and wielding whips and truncheons, the men attempt to “cleanse” the babies of evil. Evidently, recklessly leaping over them is the best way to achieve this.
The town has observed the strange practice (called El Colacho) since 1620, and any onlookers who seem to be in need of a quick exorcism are pulled into the event, as well — so look normal, by God! And leave your babies with the sitter.
*June 16: The Hollerin’ Contest
Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina (population: 49), celebrates the art of hollerin’ each June; this year, the event falls on the 16th. On that day, participants can showcase their own personal “hollerin’ style” in any of 5 contests, including the Junior Hollerin’ Contest, the Ladies Callin’ Contest and, of course, the (men’s only) National Hollerin’ Contest.
Also featuring pageants and games — think: a biggest bell pepper contest, a watermelon roll (no idea if this involves a steep hill or not), and a square-dancing jamboree — the event draws an international crowd. Sounds like a knee-slapping good time.
* July 5-8: The Amazing Roswell UFO Festival
I visited the freaky, little outpost of Roswell, New Mexico a few years ago and had a out-of-this-world time. This July, the faithful (and the cynical) will gather at the Roswell UFO Festival to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the “Roswell Incident,” when a UFO was said to have crashed into military grounds nearby.
Featuring experts, authors, researchers, and lecturers dissecting the infamous incident, the celebration will also sport an alien parade, an alien costume contest , and an alien hot air balloon ride. I’m sure someone will be previewing Close Encounters.
*July 28 and 29: BLMA’s 12-Hour Endurance Race
In July, over 40 teams will test their mettle in The British Lawn Mower Racing Association‘s flagstone event: the 12-hour endurance race. Racing mowers? Isn’t that kinda pointless? Actually, since the event begins at 8 pm and lasts through the night, it’s downright grueling. See for yourself.
* July 29: Fiesta of Near Death Experiences
This unusual festival is for people who have come close to death but lived to talk about it. Bizarrely, they attend church in a coffin, borne aloft by members of their family. (Sadly, if you have no friends or family, you have to carry your own coffin into the church.)
Held in Las Nieves, a small town in Galicia near the border with Portugal, thousands of people fill the narrow streets on the day of Santa Maria to hear the sad and sometimes disturbing stories of the survivors. After the somber event, though, things start to turn fun, as fireworks and street food compete for the attention of participants.
* August 1-5: The Testicle Festival
This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Clinton, Montana’s elegantly-named Testicle Festival. This 21-and-up-only event features lots of beer (like Bull Snort Brew) and all the bull balls you can eat. What?
Yup, attendees dine on Rocky Mountain Oysters — more commonly known as bull’s testicles — which are usually served deep-fried. Spectators also thrill in Bullsh*t Bingo, in which the crowd bets on when a bull will poop. Wow! Just think of the souvenirs available to you!
* September 1-2: The Wisconsin State Chip Throw
During Labor Day weekend, residents and visitors of Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin gather to hurl dried cow poop during the Wisconsin State Chip Throw. Contestants are NOT allowed to use gloves, but they MAY lick their fingers prior to chucking their chips — which could be kind of gross when working on your second throw of the event.
Of course, the event also features a bovine-inspired Tournament of Chips parade, but who can bother watching the passersby, with all the turd-tossing?
Sounds like summer is going to be lots of fun!