10 Bizarre Food Festivals Around The United States

While you’ll find no shortage of ethnic food festivals, craft beer shows and wine tasting events around the United States, sometimes it can be fun to do something a little out of the ordinary. For a bizarre yet delicious experience, attend these wacky food festivals around the country. Want to make your trip extra quirky? Add some of these roadside attractions to the itinerary, as well.

Waikiki Spam Jam
Waikiki, Hawaii

Who wouldn’t want to take part in a celebration dedicated to canned meats? Judging by the 20,000+ attendees each year, it seems like there are quite a bit of dedicated Spam-lovers out there. Visitors can enjoy Spam burgers and Spam fried rice, as well as purchase Spam T-shirts and watch Spam dancers and Spam theater productions. While the festival is a bit unusual, it actually has some historical significance, as during WWII meats were in short supply, forcing Hawaiians to grow a love for Spam. In fact, according to Waikiki Spam Jam, Hawaiians eat more Spam than anyone else in the world. The fun festival also helps those in need, as money from the event is donated to the Hawaii Food Bank. Don’t be upset if you missed the 2012 edition, as you can start planning a trip to Hawaii to coincide with the 2013 festival on Saturday, April 27. Additionally, you can follow Waikiki Spam Jam on Facebook and Twitter.Yuma Lettuce Days
Yuma, Arizona

Vegetarians and healthy eaters will love this festival, which celebrates locally grown produce and agriculture. Yuma Lettuce Days is an annual event that takes place each March, combining education, entertainment and a lot of vegetables. While the festival’s name makes it sound a bit bland, there are actually many exciting experiences to be found, like interactive salad bars, harvest dinners, wine and microbrew tastings, the world’s largest salad, a homegrown cooking contest, lettuce sculptures, cabbage bowling and more. You can attend next year’s festival from March 8 to 10, 2013.

Telluride, Colorado

This mushroom-centric festival features four full days of shroom-themed activities. Their mission is “to educate citizens, both visitor and local alike, about the many incredible aspects of the amazing world of mycology.” Attendees can immerse themselves in mushroom forages, fungal lectures, live music in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and, of course, live cooking demos and mushroom-infused meals. Shroomfest is an annual tradition, and this year from August 16 to 19 will mark the event’s 32nd year.

Cheese Curd Festival
Ellsworth, Wisconsin

Ellsworth is the “cheese curd capital” of Wisconsin, so of course, it is only logical to hold their annual Cheese Curd Festival there. Celebrated every year since 1984, the festival boasts 6,000+ visitors each year. The focus of the event is the curd eating contest, where kids and adults race in heats to shove either a quarter or half pound of cheese curds down their throats. The prize? Ten dollars and a trophy. Attendees can also enjoy live music, fun runs, crafts, games and more. If you’re interested in indulging in some cheese curd goodness, the 25th annual Cheese Curd Festival will be held May 31 to June 3, 2013.

The International Rutabaga Curling World Championship
Ithaca, New York

The International Rutabaga Curling World Championship may sound bizarre, but it’s an annual tradition that marks the end of the market season in Ithaca. Attendees can see the offbeat sport as well as hear the melodic rutabaga choir. The town has been playing with rutabagas since 1996, although the first official Rutabaga Curl was in 1998. Moreover, around December when the event takes place, rutabagas are the only vegetable left in the market. And, nobody wants to eat them.

Turkey Testicle Festival
Huntley, Illinois

What started over 30 years ago as a joke has blossomed into one of the most traditional yet oddest festivals in the United States. The Turkey Testicle Festival is not a play on words, but actually cerebrates the nether region of the turkey. Around Thanksgiving each year, people flock to Parkside Pub to chow down on batter-fried turkey testicles while enjoying cold beers and live music. The event boasts 4,000+ attendees, as the pub makes over 1,000 pounds of turkey testicles each year. Moreover, the $10 admission charged at the door goes to helping local charities.

Bug Fest
Raleigh, North Carolina

Put on by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, BugFest is all about educating and fascinating. While there are presentations, roach races, Q&As, street fairs and exhibits, the “main course” of the event is Café Insecta, where visitors get their own taste of entomophagy. All dishes feature bug-infused recipes created by local chefs, so you’ll be helping the community while also heightening your sense of adventure.

Roadkill Cook-Off
Marlinton, West Virginia

Before you start gagging, know you won’t be seeing any tire marks on your meal. This food festival focuses on wild game like deer, possum, squirrel, raccoon and other animals that are commonly squashed by cars. Some example entrees from past years include “Biscuits and Squirrel Gravy,” “Pulled BamBiTo under Saboogo,” “Deer on a Stick” and “Rigor Mortis Bear Stew.” The event takes place annually in September, with this year’s Roadkill Cook-Off being held on September 29, 2012. Some highlights will include a Possum Trot 5k, a welcome ceremony of Mr. and Mrs. West Virginia Roadkill (elected at a prior pageant), tasting and judging of roadkill recipes, harvest games, a dog show and more. Click here for the full schedule.

RC Cola And Moonpie Festival
Bell Buckle, Tennessee

The RC Cola and Moonpie Festival happens annually on the third Saturday in June. Here you’ll find a craft fair, 10-mile run, bluegrass music, and clog dancers, as well as quirkier fare like deep fried Moon Pies, the cutting of the world’s largest Moon Pie, parades featuring people dressed up as RC Colas and Moon Pies, a Moon Pie toss, a watermelon seed spitting contests, a “Moon Pie Song Contest” and an RC dash where runners balance a full soda can on their heads.

Testicle Festival
Clinton, Montana

While Illinois celebrates turkey testicles, Montana honors the balls of the bull. Also known as “cowboy caviar,” attendees can order the delicacy fried, boiled, sauteed or even raw. Held at the Rock Creed Lodge, the Testicle Festival draws over 15,000 people and requires over 2.5 tons of bull balls for a weekend of bizarre food fare, as well as crazy partying and debauchery. Quirky happenings include a bull-chip throwing contest, wet T-shirt and hairy chest competitions and even a game of bingo that involves a bull defecating on the game card. If you end up drinking a little too much of the event’s signature beer, Bull Snort Brew, party-goers can camp at the lodge or take the free shuttle. You’ll have so much fun attending this event, you may leave drunkenly babbling their motto: “I had a ball at the Testicle Festival.”

[images via madmarv00, Visit Telluride, audreyjm529]

10 interesting food museums from around the world

While many people visit museums in order to learn about culture, art, or history, how many out there can say they’ve gone to a museum to see an exhibit on SPAM? Or to learn the processing history of salami? While somewhat out of the norm, these 10 interesting food museums from around the world will give you insight and fun facts into some of your favorite cuisine.

Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia
Location: Burlingame, California

From vintage Pez dispensers to new Pez-related items, come to Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia to learn the history of Pez as well as buy Pez products. The highlight of the museum is seeing the world’s largest Pez dispenser, which is in the form of a 7 ft’ 10” tall snowman and can hold 6,480 Pez candies. And if you get sick of looking at Pez dispensers all day, the museum also has a Classic Toy Museum and a Banned Toy Museum on site.

Located at 214 California Dr. Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10AM-6PM. The SPAM Museum
Location: Austin, Minnesota

The SPAM Museum is a tribute to this pre-cooked, canned meat that includes vintage advertising, memorabilia, SPAM trivia, and interactive exhibits. Visitors can even test their SPAM-canning skills as well as learn about the large role SPAM played in the diet of WWII soldiers. See walls made entirely of SPAM cans and ceilings holding massive burger buns as you walk through this retro-style museum.

Fun Fact: An actor from New York named Kenneth Daigneau won a contest in 1936 put on by the creator of SPAM, Jay Hormel, that allowed him to choose the name for the canned meat. Mr. Daigneau chose SPAM, which is where the name comes from. He also won $100, which today could have bought him $1,500 in SPAM products.

Located at 1101 North Main St. Museum hours are Monday-Saturday, 10AM-5PM, and Sunday, 12PM-5PM.

The Pick Salami and Szeged Paprika Museum
Location: Szeged, Hungary

The Pick Salami and Szeged Paprika Museum gives visitors a chance to learn everything there is to know about Pick salami and paprika through a showcase of photographs, history lessons on founder Mark Pick, production displays, and butchering guides. The best part of the museum is the life-size wooden dolls wearing authentic costumes that are setup in ways that depict scenes in the salami and paprika making process with production equipment out on display. Luckily, the Picks are still in business so after learning about these delicious treats you can purchase some for yourself.

Located at Felso Tisza-Part 10 . Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 3PM-6PM.

The National Mustard Museum
Location: Middleton, Wisconsin

How much could there possibly be to learn about mustard? Apparently, a lot. The National Mustard Museum is home to more than 5,600 different types of mustard, including kinds from all 50 states as well as over 60 different countries. Visitors can sample the different varieties, some of which include tequila, chocolate, and cranberry mustard, for free at the Tasting Bar, where you will be guided on a sensual (and sometimes spicy) experience by a Confidential Condiments Counselor. A visit to the National Mustard Museum is not only a tour for the taste buds, however, but also for the eyes, as you admire antique mustard pots, reminisce over vintage mustard ads, view a film at the Mustardpiece Theatre (The Sound of Mustard, anyone?), take a mustard cooking class, and more.

Located at 7477 Hubbard Ave. Museum hours are 10AM-5PM, daily.

The Chocolate Museum Cologne
Location: Cologne, Germany

Of course, what food-related list would be complete without chocolate. What makes the Chocolate Museum Cologne unique is that it’s more than just displays of chocolate. At this museum you will travel through three levels of chocolate history, spanning over 3,000 years. Level one will introduce you to the cocoa tree, as you literally visit a tropical house to admire one up close. Next, see a glass chocolate factory to learn about the production of this sweet staple. On the next level visitors are introduced to chocolate as a luxury item, beginning in Mesoamerica. The final level allows you to peruse chocolate advertising and signs, watch films in the chocolate cinema, and see chocolate items that developed a cult following. There are lots of interesting tidbits of chocolate knowledge to learn here. For instance, did you know that 80 years ago the high calorie content in chocolate was seen as a good thing? I definitely would have liked to be around back then.

Located at Am Schokoladenmuseum 1a, 50678. Museum hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10AM-6PM, Saturday-Sunday, 11AM to 7PM.

The International Banana Club Museum
Location: Hesperia, California

I have never seen anyone as bananas for anything as Ken Bannister, the founder of the International Banana Club Museum, is for, well, bananas. This museum, decorated with banana art, clocks, photographs, and more, holds the largest collection dedicated to one fruit in the world and is the perfect place to come if you’re looking for something a little more on the wacky side. Begin in the “Hard” section and browse through pipes, trees, pins, knives, golf putters, belts, rings, cups, and more, all with a banana theme. There is even a rock-hard petrified banana that has been in the museum since 1975. Next, check out the “Food, Drink, and Notions” section, including banana-related foods, drinks, soaps, oils…even banana tobacco. The final sections are the “Clothing Section” (banana nose, anyone?) and the “Soft” section, which is the perfect place to end your day at the museum, as there is an eight-foot long banana couch and tons of comfortable banana pillows.

Located at 16367 Main St. Museum hours are Tues-Thurs, 9AM-1PM, and the first Saturday of each month, 9AM-1PM.

Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum
Location: Tokyo, Japan

Who would have guessed that your favorite meal in college (or the only one you knew how to cook) had an entire museum dedicated to it? The Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum includes a huge recreation of Tokyo as it looked in 1958, the year Raumen (or Ramen) was created. Visitors also get the chance to dine in some of the most well-known Raumen noodle restaurants in existence. Walk near walls covered in Raumen packages, browse Raumen and houseware displays, watch Raumen commercials on replay, and enjoy interactive Raumen video games.

Located within walking distance of Shin-Yokohama Train Station. Museums hours are 11AM-10PM, daily.

Deutsches Currywurst Museum
Location: Berlin, Germany

One may wonder why a city would decide to dedicate an entire museum to curried sausage. The truth is, there is no German dish that “inspires as many stories, preferences, and celebrity connoisseurs” as currywurst. While this may sound a bit dramatic, a visit to the Deutsches Currywurst Museum may make you a believer, as well. Get your picture taken at the old-fashioned snack bar, explore the spice chamber to solve the mystery search for the perfect ingredients, and take in the unique decor including a sausage sofa, over-sized ketchup drops hanging from the ceiling, and humongous fry displays. Visiting Deutsches Currywurst Museum is also a learning experience, as you hear about currywurst history and legends, take part in the experimental kitchen, and watch some famous currywurst scenes on film.

Located at SchÜ tzenstrausse 70. Museum hours are 10AM-10PM, daily.

The Idaho Potato Museum
Location: Blackfoot, Idaho

Being that the potato is Idaho’s most famous product, it is no wonder that there would be an Idaho Potato Museum dedicated to the starchy vegetable. This museum holds a lot of information about the history of the potato, including a film about the development of the potato industry, old farming equipment, as well as educational exhibits of the harvesting process and nutrition. The real attraction at this museum, however, is the world’s largest potato chip, which, according to Roadside America, is a 25×14-inch Pringle created in 1991 by engineers at Proctor and Gamble. The gift shop here is also worth mentioning, as it sells all kinds of potato-related gifts including potato ice cream and potato fudge.

Location is 130 NW Main St. Museum hours are April-September, Monday-Saturday, 9:30AM-5PM and October-March, Monday-Friday, 9:30AM-3:30PM.

Location: Brugge, Belgium

After discussing a museum dedicated to the potato, it is only fair to talk about a museum dedicated to the world’s favorite potato product, the French fry. Frietmuseum is the first museum in the world dedicated to the fry. While fried potatos are an international treat, what many people may not know is that they actually originated in Belgium. While you will learn the history of French fries and condiments at Frietmuseum, what really attracts tourists is the Saaihalle, the 14th century building that it is housed in. When sampling some of the museum’s fried cuisine, you will be taken downstairs to the medieval cellars of this building, which is the oldest in Brugge.

Located at Vlamingstraat 33. Museum hours are 10AM-5PM, daily.