Top 10 Strangest Food Festivals
Garrison Keillor famously said, ‘Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn.’
Point we’re trying to make – we all love food. And what’s the one thing we love more than food? Bizarre lists! Good for you, this one combines both the passions in full measure. So just sit back and enjoy this fun filled but rather strange list of the strangest food festivals that happen all around the world!
Noche de Rábanos
Night of the Radishes
Where: Oaxaca, Mexico
When: December 23-24 annually
This had got to be one strange food festival where eating is…wait for it…discouraged! The festival originated in the 16th century when the Spanish Monks brought this edible root to the new colonies.
To gather attention in the food markets, sellers would carve out some radishes into eye-catching sculptures. This tradition however continued throughout the centuries and became an official festival in 1987.
Radishes that are as long as two feet and weighing upwards of ten pounds are carved into intricate religious or sometimes cultural scenes. The artisans can compete in three different categories for cash prizes!
Annual Testicle Festival
Where: Clinton, Montana, USA
When: July 29-August 2, 2009
Many imitators exist but this original ball fest is the real deal. Known mostly by its much classier name – The Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival, this whole event is dedicated to serving deep fried bull-testicles.
You can have your choice of plain deep-fried, beer battered, marinated, and as well as some newly concocted delicacies. For those who have a tough time making choices, $5 can get you a sampler plates of testicles.
Those who are on a low-testicle diet can have fun here as well! One of the major highlights of the festival is the ‘Bullshit Bingo’ which has a grand prize of $100 for the lucky person who can rightly predict where a cow will do its… well, doodie!
World Pea shooting Championship
Where: Witcham, Cambridgeshire, UK
When: July 11, 2009
Well, this one is much loosely termed as a ‘Festival’ because food here isn’t celebrated; however, it’s more like a block party that grew out of a simple target competition!
In 1971, the local Head Master Mr. Tyson held the first pea shooting competition as a way to raise funds for the upkeep of the village hall. The entrance fee to the fest is only a meager but there is something about it to stay warned about the competition takes this extreme sport (chuckle) seriously and you might need hi-tech gear (like the laser guided pea shooter) to stand a chance with the season pea shooter veterans!
Roadkill Cook-off of the Autumn Harvest Festival
Where: Marlington, West Virginia, USA
When: September 26, 2009
Turn down the panic please! Not even one of the entries in this harvest festival competition has tire marks. What this competition actually utilizes is wild game such as raccoon, possum, deer… basically any of dear Bambi’s friends’ that could be potential roadkill!
Noteworthy amongst the past wild game entries have been, ‘Spice Venison, Buffalo and Sausage Stew’, ‘Pulled BamBiTo under Saboogo’ and ‘Biscuits and Squirrel Gravy’.
Gilroy Garlic Festival
Where: Gilroy, California, USA
When: July 24-26, 2009
Gilroy can be called the unofficial Garlic capital of the world and it pretty much proudly shows that off in this festival that attracts over 100,000 visitors annually. It is estimated that the crowd consumes about two and a half tones of garlic at that event!
According to the Official Gilroy Festival Website, at least 720 tons of garlic has been used in the twenty nine years this festival has existed.
There are cooking demonstrations and lectures that discuss the traditional uses and health benefits but there are also innovative gestures that express the high-mighty love for this pungent food in the Great Garlic Cook-off which has entries like garlic ice-cream, garlic soft drinks!
Waikiki Spam Jam
Where: Waikiki, Hawaii, USA
When: April 25, 2009
Considering it was an area with a scarce meat supply during the WWII period, this archipelago heartily embraced the blue-canned pink meat and has now become Spam’s most loyal market!
During the course of 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 – a sort of sushi but with spam instead of fish. Also, this festival serves as a philanthropic purpose that benefits the Hawaii food bank, which is the largest Non Profit in Hawaii that feeds the underprivileged.
Ivrea Orange Festival
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.
Carnival at Vilanova i La Geltrú
Candy Throwing Fight
Where: Vilanova i La Geltrú, Spain
When: Fat Tuesday (Mardi gras; next date is February 14, 2010)
What was originally a protest of the Franco Regime’s Canrivale prohibition; it’s now this annual festival which is by far the sweetest food fight in the world – ever!
The celebrations begin on Fat Tuesday with the Meringue Wars where the bakeries open their stores and pass out free pie ammunition to the children. The adults dress in the colors of their respective Carnival Society and attend parties and masquerades before they join the kids in the streets in what veritably turns in to a sweet-tooth-for-all!
It is estimated that over 200,000 Ibs of food has been donated to the food fight and it all ranges from pies to candy to cereal. The festival ends with the ceremonial burial of the sardine to mark the beginning of fasting and Lent.
Olney Pancake Race
Where: Olney, England, UK
When: Pancake Day or Fat Tuesday (next date is February 14, 2010)
At precisely 11:55 am on the Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake day, aka fat Tuesday) local ladies assemble as they are dressed in traditional housewives attires and run 415 yards through the streets of Olney carrying a frying pan!
The pancakes are tossed at the start of the race and it’s a must for the winner to toss her pancake at the finish. This race has been an Olney tradition since the 1445 and in 1950 the competition was expanded to include a friendly flapjack rivalry with the housewives and young women of Liberal, Kansas in the United States.
Annual Yuma Lettuce Days
Where: Yuma, Arizona, USA
When: Last date: January 23-25, 2009
Yuma is pretty well known as ‘The Lettuce Capital of the World’. It may sound a little silly, but given Yuma’s produces $1.5 bn worth of Arizona’s agricultural revenue and provides 90 percent of North America’s winter veggies; it’s quite the appropriate thing to give the lettuce a little respect!
The highlights of the Veggie fair are the Lettuce sculptures, Cabbage bowling, Homegrown Cooking Contest and the ‘World’s largest Salad fair.’