Oddball food festivals, from a cheese curd-eating contest to a competitive bug fest.
Food & Wine
Updated March 08, 2017
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What's rumored to have originated as a local brawl (possibly an attack on city council members by disgruntled townspeople) in Buñol, Spain, has turned into the world's largest food fight, with some 45,000 revelers hurling more than 250,000 pounds of tomatoes at one another the last Wednesday in August.
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While the food at this festival, which takes place the last Saturday of September in Marlinton, West Virginia, doesn't actually involve real roadkill, the dishes are prepared with the kinds of animals that often meet their end in traffic accidents. Specialties have included "South-of-the-Border Mishap"—tacos filled with armadillo, roadrunner and the mysteriously dubbed "hitchhiker."
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Going on its 51st year, the main attraction at the Tunarama, held the weekend nearest to Australia Day (January 26) in Port Lincoln, Australia, is the World Champion Tuna Toss Competition, where participants hurl a roughly 20-pound tuna. The record—approximately 40 yards—was set in 1998 by a pro: former Olympic hammer thrower Sean Carlin.
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Coopers Hill Cheese Rolling
The residents of Gloucestershire, England, are so gung-ho about continuing their more than decades–old cheese-rolling tradition that they held an unofficial roll of semi-hard, unpasteurized Double Gloucester cheese down Coopers Hill this year even after the event was officially cancelled.
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Maine Lobster Festival
Sure, the Maine Lobster Festival, held the first full weekend in August each year in Rockland, Maine, steams up some 20,000 pounds of lobster. But the other great attraction is the Great International William Atwood Lobster Crate Race, where participants run across a makeshift "bridge" of partially submerged lobster crates in the Atlantic. The current record of 4,501 crates was set in 2008 by then 12-year-old Andrew Bachiochi from Connecticut.
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Cheese Curd Festival
Ellsworth, Wisconsin, the self-proclaimed "Cheese Curd Capital," hosts a cheese curd eating contest and cheese carving competition every last full weekend in June in celebration of the century-old Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery and the town's proud dairy tradition.
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Chinchilla Melon Festival
Once every two years in February, Chinchilla—the "Melon Capital of Australia" (their watermelon accounts for 25 percent of the nation's crop)—celebrates the bounty with a messy melon-strewn street parade and "sports" like seed spitting, melon tossing, and skiing with feet embedded in the fruit.
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Attendees of this festival held by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh dare themselves to eat insect dishes prepared by local chefs—and cheer on bugs at the Roach Race 5000.
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