SAVE THE DATE
A month-by-month guide to the contests and parades that bring out America's best and quirkiest. Some people will dream up any excuse for a party!
The National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa
Real and aspiring hobos, those train-riding and often-sung-about migrants, gather each August for a flea market, a parade, poetry readings, and a memorial. True to form, most attendees sleep at the hobo jungle located by the railroad tracks on the northeast side of Britt. Aug. 7-10, 2008; hobo.com, free.
Tug Fest in LeClaire, Iowa
It's Iowa versus Illinois, with male and female teams from each state heaving on ropes in three-minute tug contests. Keeping things lively are local bands, a hometown heroes parade, and a huge show of fireworks shot off from a barge diplomatically situated on the Mississippi River between state lines. Aug. 7-9, 2008; tugfest.com, $3 or $5 for a two-day pass.
The Cowboy Trade Day in Catoosa, Okla.
Self-described "has-been old-timer" Hurley Hughes was inspired to start a trade day back in 1995. Not wanting to create just another flea market, he's kept the growing event focused on cowboy, Western, and Native American wares. Sept. 20, 2008; cowboytrader.com, $5.
How Berkeley Can You Be in Berkeley, Calif.
Poking good-natured fun at peace, love, and all that Berkeley jazz, the festival and parade were started by John Solomon, who owns a business on University Avenue and wanted to improve the neighborhood's image and sense of community. Sept. 28, 2008; howberkeleycanyoube.com, free.
Yellville Turkey Trot in Yellville, Ark.
The National Wild Turkey Calling contest, which attracts callers of all ages, has been a feather in this small town's cap for more than 60 years. Local restaurants cook special turkey dinners during the festival, which includes a 5K run, crafts vendors, and beauty pageants (the swimsuit one is dubbed Miss Drumsticks). Oct. 10-11, 2008; yellville.com, admission free, $5 for the turkey calling contest and $5 for the pageants.
Emma Crawford Coffin Races in Manitou Springs, Colo.
Costumed impersonators of Emma—a 19th-century lady who was buried atop Red Mountain—ride on coffins pulled by teams of four mourners in this kooky, pre-Halloween race along Manitou Avenue. Emma supposedly haunts the mountain even though her coffin washed away years after her burial. Oct. 25, 2008; manitousprings.org, free.
World Championship Punkin Chunkin in Sussex County, Dela.
Helmet-wearing participants load homemade cannons in the hopes of launching pumpkins nearly 4,000 feet across a field. Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2008; punkinchunkin.com, $7.
Giant Omelette Celebration in Abbeville, La.
Ever since 1984, when three members of the local chamber of commerce attended the Easter Omelette Festival in Bessieres, France, Abbeville has been one of seven cities worldwide to host an annual omelette festival. Representatives from each city are on hand to help local chefs prepare the celebration's pièce de résistance—a 5,000-egg Cajun omelette. Nov. 1-2, 2008; giantomelette.org, free, historic homes tour, $10.
Wilderness Woman Contest in Talkeetna, Alaska
Ladies, single and at least 21 years old, test their mettle by hauling firewood, fetching water, shooting ptarmigan, opening beer cans, and performing other tasks vital to surviving married life on the frontier—according to the Talkeetna Bachelor Society, anyway, which hosts the event and highly recommends a sense of humor. Dec. 6, 2008; talkeetnachamber.org, free.
Bed Races in Oatman, Ariz.
Five teammates (two to push, two to pull, one to sit) sporting pajamas or outlandish costumes maneuver beds through an obstacle course in teeny Oatman. Once home to gold miners, it's now a tourist trap with daily shoot-outs and a herd of burros that wanders the streets looking to be fed. Burro braying contests, a chamber-pot parade—literally, people banging pots—and a toilet-seat toss (target: a traffic cone) make this event one of the wackiest. Date TBD; oatmangoldroad.com, free.