NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - If you enjoy the strange, unusual or downright wacky and you’re planning a summer of fun in the United States, online travel adviser TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com) may have a festival of foolishness that will appeal to you in its top 10 list of the wackiest summer events in the United States. Reuters has not endorsed this list:
1. Humungus Fungus Festival: August 5-7, Crystal Falls, Mich.
Fungus fanatics will be in their earthy element at this celebration of the world’s largest mushroom, which weighs 11 tons, covers 37 acres and lives just below the ground near this northern Michigan town. Travelers can work up an appetite in the strong man contest as they watch contenders compete in events including a keg toss, tire flop, and a metal pole lift - and then devour some mouth-watering mold, by indulging in a slice of the world’s largest mushroom pizza. General admission is free of charge although some events do have a fee.
2. National Hollerin’: June 18, Spivey’s Corner, N.Carolina
Travelers should leave their indoor voices at home at this cacophonous celebration, which draws in over 10,000 attendees. The hollering contest is not the only pursuit for travelers to enjoy at this gathering; conch shell blowing, a greasy pole climb, and the classic game of corn hole are also integral to the hollerin’ hoopla. Those with a firm grip can even compete to hold on to a greased watermelon, while local firemen try to knock it from contestants’ hands using a fire hose. General admission is $5, and free for children 12 and under.
3. Cream Cheese Festival: September 17, Lowville, New York
Travelers in search of some cheesy fun and tub-loads of excitement will be delighted by this event, which is now in its seventh year. Cream cheese connoisseurs can finger paint a mural with the yummy spread, fill a friend’s face in an all-you-can-eat contest, or have a taste of the world’s largest cheesecake, which measures 20 feet in diameter. Athletic attendees can even test their pitching prowess in the “Flinging Cream Cheese Toss.” General admission is free of charge.
4. Watermelon Thump: June 23-26, Luling, Texas
Now in its 58th year, this juicy four-day celebration is ripe with fun and anything but melon-choly! Attendees can attempt to break the Guinness World record of nearly 69-feet in a seed spitting contest, while watermelon-lovers can even participate in a melon eating match to see who can demolish a slice the fastest. A variety of tasty summer treats can also be enjoyed at the festival, along with live music and a car show. General admission is free of charge Thursday and Sunday, and is $8 Friday, and $10 Saturday.
5. Summer Redneck Games: July 9, East Dublin, Georgia
Travelers can get down and dirty in Dublin for this one-day event, which draws crowds of over 5,000 attendees each year. For those that don’t find bobbin’ for pig’s feet appetizing, visitors can also participate in the hubcap hurl, mud-pit belly flop contest, or even test their talent for tossing toilet seats in a round of “Redneck Horseshoes.” Winners in each event will receive a glistening, half-crushed, mounted beer can. Admission is $5 and free for children under seven.
6. Gilroy Garlic Festival: July 29-31, Gilroy, Cal.
Celebrating its 33rd year, this fragrant festival is a garlic lovers’ dream - and a vampire’s worst nightmare! Tantalizing delights from more than 65 food vendors include garlic chocolate, garlic-flavored ice cream cones and garlic watermelon, to name a few. On the final day of the festival, travelers can attend the “Great Garlic Showdown,” hosted by renowned chef Angelo Sosa, as four bay area chefs participate in an “Iron Chef” competition for a grand prize of $5,000. General admission is $17, $8 for children and seniors.
7. Barnesville Potato Days: August 26-27, Barnesville, Minn.
Over 17,000 spud-lovers gather annually at this two-day event to participate in some groundbreaking entertainment. Travelers can immerse themselves in a round of mashed potato wrestling, or stuff their faces with the savory starch in the “French Fry Feed.” Those with an artistic eye can design a sculpture using mashed potatoes, and fashionistas can even design some one-of-a-kind clothing from a potato sack. General admission is free of charge.
8. Cow Chip Throw: Sept 2-3, Prairie du Sac, Wis.
Once used by early settlers as fuel for cooking and heating the home, cow chips serve a loftier purpose in this two-day event, which attracts over 40,000 people annually. Travelers can try their hand at breaking the 248-foot long record in the legendary adult chip throw, while youngsters can also have a shot in the “Children’s Chip Chuckin’ Competition.” Those who wish to keep their hands clean can compete in a five or ten kilometer road race, or boogie down Wisconsin-style with some live music. General admission is free of charge, with a $3 fee to enter the Cow Chip Throw ($1 for children).
9. Baby Food Festival: July 20-23, Fremont, Mich.
Home to one of the largest baby food factories in the U.S., this city’s annual celebration is crawling with fun for all ages. Adults who are young at heart can turn back the clock in a baby food eating contest, while those that prefer solid foods can test their skills with a bubble gum blowing contest, a pop ring toss, or fill their faces in a pie eating challenge. General admission is free of charge, yet various individual events do have fees.
10. Heritage Duct Tape Festival: June 17-19, Avon, Oh.
This sticky celebration, now in its eighth year, takes places in the “Duct Tape Capital of the World.” Duct tape enthusiasts will see dozens of displays made from this household staple, including fashion-forward clothing and sports memorabilia. On the last day of the festival, Miss America will marshal a parade from the top of a float made from the grey tape. General admission is free of charge.
Editing by Paul Casciato