Festivals with a Local Spin

I happened across The Chap Olympiad yesterday while poking around London event websites, and it got me thinking about weird festivals throughout the world. My guess is that every region has a festival or event with unique local flavor. Certainly everywhere I’ve lived so far has had something.

In Anchorage, we had Fur Rendezvous, a mid-winter event that was meant to get people outside and help curb cabin fever. As the name suggests, it focuses quite a bit on fur and pelts (there’s a multi-day auction by the Alaska Trappers Association–blegh), but it also showcases Alaskan strangeness with events like outhouse racing and leaf-blower hockey.

Picture of outhouse racing from the Fur Rondy website

Outhouse racing, picture from the Fur Rondy website

As a kid I was never much impressed with Fur Rondy. It was always bitterly cold (average temp of 19°F/-7°C), and beyond the carnival rides I didn’t care for any of the events. It definitely is a unique festival, though, and undeniably Alaskan.

In upstate New York, it’s GlassFest. Corning, NY, has been making glass for 150 years–if you’ve ever heard of CorningWare, that’s where it comes from–and GlassFest features all things glass-related with demonstrations, art showcases, and live music. (Fun fact: Corning made the first glass bulb for Thomas Edison, thus ruining Nikola Tesla and the world’s chance for energy efficiency.)

Picture of a hot glass demonstration taken from the GlassFest website

Hot-glass demonstration, picture from the GlassFest website

I mostly just liked the wine and beer tastings, to be honest, but GlassFest draws thousands of more-interested people every year.

Here in Baltimore, we have the annual HonFest. I’ll just let the HonFest website describe it for you:

“The term Hon is actually a friendly greeting and comes from the word honey. Around here, however, the women who vie to become Baltimore’s Best Hon are a vision of the sixties-era. They are women with beehive hairdos, bright-blue eye shadow, spandex pants and anything with leopard print! […] HonFest is an annual celebration in honor of these women.”

Picture of young hons taken from the HonFest website

Young hons, picture from the HonFest website

There are also mashed potato (as in, the dance) contests, best mustache awards, and stations to have your hair put in a beehive. This one is just a bit more up my alley than fur and glass. But while I’ve heard about it for years, I’ve never actually been to HonFest. This is a disgrace. Looking forward to finally making it there in 2015!

What unique festival is in your area?


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