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Top 10 Bizarre Food Festivals
Food food food! We love it so much it features regularly on the List Universe. And the one thing we love more than food? Bizarre lists. Fortunately this one combines both passions. So sit back and enjoy a fun filled list. Of course, if you can think of other exciting bizarre food festivals, be sure to tell us all in the comments.
Where: Oaxaca, Mexico
When: December 23-24 annually
This is a food festival where eating is discouraged! This festival originated in the 16th century when Spanish monks brought this edible root to the new colonies. To gain attention in the food markets, sellers would carve some radishes into eye-catching sculptures. This tradition continued throughout the centuries and became an official festival in 1987. Radishes as big as two feet long and weighing upwards of ten pounds are carved into intricate religious or cultural scenes. The artisans can compete in three different categories for cash prizes.
Where: Clinton, Montana, USA
When: July 29-August 2, 2009
There are several imitators but this is the original ballfest. Usually known by its classier name, the Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival, this whole event is dedicated to serving deep-fried bull testicles. You can have your choice plain deep-fried, beer battered, marinated, as well as some newly concocted delectables. For the indecisive, $5 can provide a sampler plate of testicles. Those on a low-testicle diet can have fun as well! One of the highlights of the festival is Bullshit Bingo, with a grand prize of $100 for the lucky person who can correctly predict where a cow will do its doodie. The motto of this dignified event? “I had a ball at the Testicle Festival.”
Where: Witcham, Cambridgeshire, UK
When: July 11, 2009
This is loosely termed a festival since the food isn’t celebrated; rather, it’s like a block party that grew out of a simple target competition. In 1971, local headmaster Mr. Tyson held the first pea shooting competition as a way to fundraise for the upkeep of the village hall. The entrance fee is only £1.00 for adults and £0.50 for children, but be warned! The competitors take this extreme sport seriously and you’ll need hi-tech gear (like the laser-guided pea shooter) to stand a chance on the field with these seasoned pea shooting veterans.
Where: Marlington, West Virginia, USA
When: September 26, 2009
Nobody panic! None of the entries in this harvest festival competition have any tire marks as they aren’t actually unfortunate outcomes of “Why did the chicken cross the road?” jokes. This competition utilizes wild game such as raccoon, possum, deer…basically any of Bambi’s friends that could be potential roadkill. Does that make it better? No? oh well… notables among the past wild game entries are “Spicy Venison, Buffalo & Sausage Stew”, “Pulled BamBiTo under Saboogo”, and Biscuits & Squirrel Gravy.
Where: Gilroy, California, USA
When: July 24-26, 2009
Gilroy is the unofficial Garlic Capital of the World and proudly shows off in this festival that attracts over 100,000 visitors annually that as a whole consume an estimated two and a half tons of garlic at the event. The official Gilroy Garlic Festival website claims to have used 72 tons of garlic in the twenty-nine years this festival has existed. Cooking demonstrations and lectures discuss traditional uses and health benefits but the innovative can always express their love for this pungent food in the Great Garlic Cook-off, which has had entries like garlic ice cream, garlic soft drinks and last year’s winner “Walnut-Garlic Tart with Garlic-Infused Cream and Chili Syrup”. Anyone need a Tic Tac?
Where: Waikiki, Hawaii, USA
When: April 25, 2009
As an area with a scarce meat supply during WWII, this archipelago embraced the blue-canned pink meat and has now become Spam’s most loyal market. During this street festival, hula dancers perform while judges crown a Mr. and Miss Spam and Hawaii’s top chefs create new recipes celebrating the gelatinous meat product. Pedestrians get to sample everything from Spam Burgers to Spam Musubi (kind of like sushi but with spam instead of fish). This festival also serves a philanthropic purpose that benefits the Hawaii Food Bank, the largest non-profit in Hawaii that feeds the needy.
Where: Ivrea, Italy
When: Last date: February 25-28
La Tomantina has already been mentioned in a previous list but by no means is that the only fruit-throwing festival! The Ivrea Orange Festival originated from the 12th century when during parades and city celebrations, girls would throw oranges from their balconies to gain the attention of the boy they fancied. The boys began to reciprocate (no mention if the secret admiration was reciprocated but the oranges certainly were!) and this evolved into a messy rivalry between the balcony girls and the street boys. It wasn’t until WWII when the intricate citrus battle rules were finally laid out. It is free for anyone to participate by joining one of the nine teams on foot or become a member of the carriage crew.
Where: Vilanova i La Geltrú, Spain
When: Fat Tuesday (Mardi gras; next date is February 14, 2010)
Originally a protest of the Franco regime’s Carnivale prohibition, this annual festival is by far the sweetest food fight in the world! Celebrations begin on Fat Tuesday with the Meringue Wars, where bakeries open their stores and pass out free pie ammunition to children. The adults dress in the colors of their respective Carnival Society and attend parties and masquerades before joining the children in the streets in what becomes a sweet tooth free-for-all! Over 200,000 lbs of food has been donated to the food fight, ranging from pies to candy to cereal… It’s a dentist’s nightmare! The festival officially ends with the ceremonial burial of a sardine to mark the beginning of Lent and fasting.
Where: Olney, England, UK
When: Pancake Day or Fat Tuesday (next date is February 14, 2010)
At 11:55 am on Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Day, aka Fat Tuesday), the local ladies assemble dressed in traditional housewife attire (including skirt, apron and scarf) and run 415 yards through the streets of Olney carrying a frying pan. The pancakes are tossed at the start of the race and the winner is must toss her pancake again at the finish. The race has been an Olney tradition since 1445 and in 1950, the competition expanded to include a friendly flapjack rivalry with the housewives and young women of Liberal, Kansas in the US. The ladies of Liberal won this past year’s race with a new record of 57.5 seconds.
Where: Yuma, Arizona, USA
When: Last date: January 23-25, 2009
Yuma is known as ‘The Winter Lettuce Capital of the World’. Sounds silly, yes, but considering Yuma produces $1.5 billion of Arizona’s agriculture revenue and provides 90% of North America’s winter vegetables, it’s appropriate to respect the lettuce. Among the highlights of this Veggie Fair are the Lettuce sculptures, Cabbage Bowling, Homegrown Cooking Contest and the ‘World’s Largest Salad’.