SAVE THE DATE
A month-by-month guide to the contests and parades that bring out America's best and quirkiest. Some people will dream up any excuse for a party!
O. Henry Pun-Off in Austin, Tex.
Thirty-two punny participants hash it out in timed contests like "punniest of the show" and "punslingers" until one champ is left standing. A book sale and proceeds from a silent auction benefit the city's O. Henry Museum. May 17, 2008; punpunpun.com, free.
Horned Toad Derby in Coalinga, Calif.
Tuck into barbecued beef while watching competitions of all sorts: toads rushing to cross the finish line first (or rather, just wandering in circles); firemen competing to push a bucket of cement using fire hoses; and locals playing at softball. May 23-26, 2008; coalingachamber.com, 559/935-2948, free.
Testicle Festival in Olean, Mo.
Olean may be tiny, but its residents have the gumption, sense of humor, and adventurous eating habits to pull off this annual fest. The main attraction is mountain oysters, a polite term for fried turkey testicles. Kudos to reader Judy McFarland of Columbia, Mo., who wrote in about the festival last year. We've also learned Olean doesn't have the lock on testicles—Montana has been celebrating them for more than 25 years. June 7, 2008; eldonchamber.com, $5.
Watermelon Thump in Luling, Tex.
This four-day celebration takes its name from the time-tested way to tell if a melon is ripe: thump it with your fingers and see if it has a ring to it. There aren't any thumping contests, but you can test your talents at seed spitting and speedy melon eating. A lucky local grower will win a prize for largest Black Diamond melon. June 26-29, 2008; watermelonthump.com, admission and main-stage concerts are free Thursday and Sunday, admission is $2 on Fridays, $3 on Saturdays, and main-stage concerts are $20.
Mermaid Parade in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Parade goers clad in flashy sea-inspired costumes turn out for this 26-year-old Coney Island tradition. (The future of some traditions is uncertain as development plans are in the works for the iconic amusement park.) While you still can, catch revelers traipsing down Surf Avenue alongside antique cars and floats. June 21, 2008; coneyisland.com, free.
International Cherry Pit-Spitting Championship in Eau Claire, Mich.
Tree-Mendus Fruit, a family-run cherry-growing business, launched this championship in 1974. The current distance for spitters to beat is a shocking 93 feet 6 ½ inches, a Guinness world record set by Brian "Young Gun" Krause in 2003. July 5, 2008; tree-mendus.com, free.
Summer Redneck Games in East Dublin, Ga.
A good-natured and outrageous embrace of all things redneck, the games include bobbing for pig feet, hurling hubcaps, and belly flopping in a giant mud pit. July 5, 2008; summerredneckgames.com, $5.
Telluride Nothing Festival in Telluride, Colo.
A tongue-in-cheek event created in 1991 by a local who was fed up with larger festivals in the area. Sometimes bands perform, but otherwise, as promised, not much happens—"gravity will continue to be in effect" and there's a "sense of humor search," according to the website. July 18-20, 2008; telluridenothingfestival.com, free.
Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif.
Instead of festival staples like popcorn and cotton candy, feast on snacks prepared with more than two tons of garlic (breath mints not included!). A local gal crowned Miss Gilroy Garlic reigns over three days filled with live music acts, arts and crafts vendors, and a fiery garlic cook-off. July 25-27, 2008; gilroygarlicfestival.com, $12.
Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward, Wis.
More than 100 lumberjacks and lumberjills square off at chopping, sawing, rolling, and climbing logs. The championships date back to 1960 and take place in a former holding pond for logs that was owned by the Weyerhaeuser's North Wisconsin Lumber Company. July 25-27, 2008; lumberjackworldchampionships.com, tickets start at $14 or $40 for a three-day pass.
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