5 wacky festivals that will change your pace

festivals
What would a weird festival list be without the Burning Man? Photo courtesy Julia Wolf/Flickr Creative Commons

Most people like to occasionally visit the typical fairs and festivals with the usual hokey rides, greasy foods, and tacky music that ranges from creepy circus tunes to "Sweet Home Alabama." But others like their festivals a little different—events where stepping outside the box means into a giant pumpkin or off a bridge. If you’d like to join them, here are five weird festivals to choose from.

festivals
Decorated pumpkins in the water awaiting their paddlers prior to the 2008 Windsor Pumpkin Regatta, Windsor, Nova Scotia. Photo by Verne Equinox/Wikimedia Commons

Pumpkin Regatta

Cinderella's got nothing on this. People find or grow pumpkins big enough to hold them inside, decorate and paint them, push them into the water, and race them. Pumpkin racing is so popular multiple places around the country and world make it an annual event, usually in October during harvest time. The regatta in Damariscotta, Maine, allows people to either paddle their boat like a kayak in one heat or strap a 5-10hp motor for another race heat. Tualatin, Oregon, keeps it pure with human-propelled pumpkins only.

Bridge Day

Any other time of the year this would be illegal, but on October 18 adrenaline junkies can tandem BASE jump off the 876-foot New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia. From 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. the world's second longest arch bridge shuts down to vehicles and fills up with vendors, spectators, and BASE jumpers.

Underwater Music Festival

If mountain music festivals have become too mainstream for you, attend the Underwater Music Festival in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which has been hip and under the radar for the past 30 years. Held in July, the event starts out on Friday on land with fancy hors d'oeuvres, desserts, and cocktails and a ukulele band. Then Saturday in the a.m. attendees head under the sea for some music and dancing.

festivals
People check out the dancing female frame statue. Giant wire statues and kinetic sculptures are common art pieces at the Burning Man festival. Photo by Geoff Stearns/Wikimedia Commons

Burning Man

What would a list of odd events be without Burning Man? Imagine Cirque du Soleil meets World Nature Organization in one of the country's hottest, driest desert regions. The event takes place in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert during the week before and through Labor Day. The most unusual aspect of Burning Man is not the nakedness, costumes, massive dragon bus, street performers, or drug-induced dance parties. It's that nothing can be bought or sold on the festival grounds. To promote a community environment everyone barters and trades or simply offers and shares what they have during the week. Expect everything from a hug to a paper mache unicorn horn filled with glass flowers. It's also one of the most environmentally conscious festivals in the world, holding a strict Leave-No-Trace policy on all attendees. If going to the main annual event itself seems daunting, start small at any of the regional burns.

Redneck Games

The name says it all. When the 1996 Olympics brought big-name international athletes and attendees to Atlanta, Georgia, locals thought they'd have their own fun. Thus the Redneck Games was born. They kick off in April with the ceremonial lighting of the grill by a torch made from Budweiser cans. Events include the hubcap toss, bobbing for pigs' feet, and mud pit belly flops. More than 5,000 people came to the first event and another 100,000-plus since, making it a mainstay in southern culture and comedy.

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