15 Quirky and Fun Festivals Around the USA

From slugs to Spam, America is home to some wild and weird festivals.

Many U.S. cities host exciting festivals every year. Famous ones include Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival in California. However, there are plenty of interesting festivals that tend to go unnoticed.

Some are straightforward, like barbecue festivals in Memphis or the Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans. Some are more unorthodox, begging the question, “Why do we need a festival for that?” These are some of the oddest but coolest festivals that happen every year in the U.S.

1. Underwater Music Festival

Underwater Music Festival Florida Keys
Image Credit: Monroe County Tourist Development Council.

People travel from around the country, and some from other countries, to witness and participate in the absurd Underwater Music Festival. It takes place in Big Pine Key, Florida, and has been a beloved event for nearly 40 years.

The July event is odd, but the mission is important. The festival raises coral reef protection awareness and promotes environmentally safe diving practices. People play instruments underwater, including guitars, drums, and saxophones.

2. Slug Festival

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The Slug Festival in Eatonville, Washington, is not ideal for squeamish folks. The event showcases the many slug species native to Washington, which is a surprisingly high number.

We recommend this festival for kids who love science, animals, and outdoor fun. There are kid-friendly games, educational booths, food, and more for the whole family. It’s a strange event, but even slugs deserve their day.

3. Bonnie & Clyde Festival

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow
Image Credit: United States Library of Congress/Wiki Commons.

Fans of these criminal lovers can indulge in everything Bonnie and Clyde at the festival dedicated to them. The official Bonnie & Clyde Festival takes place in May, in Gibsland, Louisiana.

The festival features Bonnie and Clyde reenactments, a museum with related artifacts, and even some of their relatives. Visitors can get some insight into the complex lives of these two outlaws and have a blast with other Bonnie and Clyde enthusiasts.

4. Spam Jam

The Spam Museum in Austin, MN
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Believe it or not, there are two Spam Jams in the U.S. One is in Waikiki, Hawaii, the state that loves Spam the most. The other is in Austin, Minnesota, where the Spam Museum is located.

The Spam Jam offers plenty of opportunities to eat Spam in various forms and recipes. Competitions are held to see who can eat the most of this canned meat or finish their Spam the fastest. It’s a niche event, but it’s tons of fun for ham lovers.

5. World’s Largest Bagel Breakfast

World’s Largest Bagel Breakfast
Image Credit: Explore Mattoon.

Every year, a bakery in Mattoon, Illinois, bakes a massive bagel for the World’s Largest Bagel Breakfast. It’s not actually the largest bagel, but it’s usually close. People gather to see the bagel, try other bagels, talk about bagels, and appreciate this doughy, circular treat.

The festival is a bustling street fair with the big bagel at the heart of it. The event includes live entertainment, local restaurants, and an excess of casual breakfast foods. Whether you like bagels or not, the festival is vibrant and fun.

6. Art Car Parade and Festival

HOUSTON ART CAR PARADE
Image Credit: Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.

Sacramento hosts an annual ArtCar Fest, but the Art Car Parade and Festival in Houston, Texas, might be the best place to see funky cars. These aren’t just cars with unusual paint jobs; these vehicles are true works of art.

Some are sculpted to look like famous characters like Yoda, while others use crazy materials for the car’s body. Enjoy food, music, and a parade of eye-catching cars that amaze and delight. It typically takes place in mid-April.

7. WNC Bigfoot Festival

Image Credit: RA Media LLC.

Skeptics and believers alike will be fascinated by the WNC Bigfoot Festival in Marion, North Carolina. As the most famous American cryptid, Bigfoot is a hot topic for enthusiasts. Some festival attendees are just there for a good time, while others are serious about shifting people’s understanding of Bigfoot.

Experts give lectures, paranormal investigation teams share evidence, and many debate the creature’s existence. People can eat local food, participate in Bigfoot calling contests, and learn about the best places to catch a glimpse of the cryptid in North Carolina.

8. Mothman Festival

Image Credit: The World’s Only Mothman Museum.

Similar to Bigfoot, the Mothman is an American legend and captivating cryptid. The event occurs the third week of September in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. It’s specifically held to celebrate the first sighting of the Mothman in West Virginia.

People from around the world come to this festival to learn more about this frightening and mysterious creature. The event includes live music performances, guest speakers, vendors, cosplay, bus tours, and a museum.

9. Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

Hudson Valley Garlic Festival
Image Credit: Kiwanis Club of Saugerties.

People use garlic frequently in cooking, whether in fresh bulbs, a convenient powder, or demonized “jarlic.” Several U.S. cities host an annual garlic festival, but the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival is one of the biggest.

The Hudson Valley Garlic Festival is in Saugerties, New York, at the end of September. It hosts countless garlic vendors, garlic farmers, lecturers, cooking demos, live concerts, and more for people to enjoy.

10. UFO Festival

Image Credit: New Mexico Tourism Department.

While perfectly quirky, this festival might not be as obscure as others mentioned here, especially if you’re a “believer.” The annual UFO Festival takes place in Roswell, New Mexico (of course). It’s a thrilling event for UFO enthusiasts and skeptics alike.

You can learn about the history of UFO sightings, the significance of Roswell, facts about outer space, and much more. While parts of the festival are silly, like the costumes and games, it can be an enriching and educational experience.

11. Humungus Fungus Fest

Image Credit: Life in Michigan.

Crystal Falls, Michigan, is home to an impressive 37-acre Armillaria gallica fungus colony. The Humungus Fungus Fest honors and celebrates this massive mushroom colony, which was once the biggest living organism in the world.

While it’s lost that title, the people of Crystal Falls still love throwing this August festival to show a little love for its local fungi. The three-day event offers a pancake breakfast, volleyball and golf tournament, horseshoe tournament, softball games, firework shows, a parade, a pie-eating contest, and more.

12. Fruitcake Toss

Image Credit: Collin Street Bakery.

Fruitcake is not always the most delicious dessert, which is why we love the Fruitcake Toss so much. This festival is in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and yes, it involves hurling loaves of fruitcake into the air.

You can throw or catapult your fruitcake and say good riddance to it. The event takes place on January 8 and encourages people to bring any unappetizing fruitcakes they were gifted over the holiday season.

13. Chandler Ostrich Festival

Image Credit: Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival.

The Chandler Ostrich Festival has been held in Chandler, Arizona, for 34 years. As you might guess, this festival highlights the unusual, tall, flightless birds known as ostriches.

However, the festival is not just about staring at giant birds. There’s live music, carnival rides, local food, and other activities. The point of the festival is to honor the history of ostrich ranching and how these offbeat animals became common in Arizona.

14. Fire and Ice Festival

Image Credit: Fire and Ice Festival.

The Fire and Ice Festival might not be as quirky as other festivals on this list, but it’s one of the coolest. This winter festival occurs every February in Lititz, Pennsylvania, drawing big crowds for various events.

The free event embraces the contrast between hot and cold, fire and ice. For 10 days, there are ice carving competitions, chili cook-offs, corn hole tournaments, hot food, science demonstrations, dance performances, and more to enjoy.

15. Twins Days Festival

Image Credit: Twiniversity.

The Twins Days Festival celebrates those born in pairs. It’s fittingly located in Twinsburg, Ohio, and is a festival where twins from around the country can gather and celebrate their uniqueness.

People dress in matching costumes, play partnered games, and enjoy the company of other multiples. It takes place on the first weekend in August every year. Each year has a theme, making the festival even more exciting. The theme for 2024 is “Twindy 500: Off Two the Races!”

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