Top Quirky Cultural Festivals in the USA You Must Experience
In the US, cultural festivals are the lifeline of the populace. These festivals celebrate every type of food, music, art, fashion, craft, and sport that is there on the American soil. While some cultural festivals run along predictable lines, there are others, which don’t shy away from being borderline bizarre and quirky. Likewise, you have plaid-wearing festivals, pirate festivals, even cow chip throwing contests here. That said, these festivals are not quirky just for the sake of being one. Instead, they stem from old traditions, local history, and a desire to preserve things that make the region special. Check this post to know about some of the most popular festivals and events here in the US that might seem odd in the beginning, yet are perfect to know a bit more about the country.
National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Nevada
Have you ever heard a mustachioed man has a deep baritone, take the lectern and recite a witty rhyme about horses? Well, here’s your chance, at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, in Elko Nevada. The gathering also features interesting ensembles of bizarre poets such as brave high-schoolers reciting difficult poems, and middle-aged men singing poetry on psychedelic beats. In freezing winters, when the rest of the country is busy preparing for Christmas, take a trip to this far-flung spot in Nevada to experience some of the best cowboy poetry. So, what exactly is cowboy poetry? Well, it’s all about poems about horses that cowboys like. Each year, since 1984, these open mic sessions encourage patrons from all corners of America to gather and speak their favorite literary compositions. The best part of these gatherings? It’s not always about the American culture. Previously, the gatherings have celebrated the cultures of the Hawaiian paniolos, Argentinian gauchos, and even Mongolian horsemen.
Burning of Zozobra, New Mexico
In Santa Fe, there’s a festival that concludes with the grand theatrics of a burning man. No, not literally, of course! Here in New Mexico, the people of Santa Fe celebrate the beginning of the Fiestas de Santa Fe, with a sensational, fiery event, the Burning of Zozobra. According to local legends, Zozobra or the “Old Man Gloom,” is a mythical monster, who is the sworn enemy of everything that is good in this world. Each year, the being is reborn (because of all the evil deeds are done by humans) and is depicted by a 50-foot tall marionette. After an epic battle performance between good and evil, where Zozobra tries and lure children of Santa Fe, he's set on fire. Subsequently, the crowd indulges in merry-making, having vanquished the evil from the world.
Hemingway Days, Florida
In the sweltering summer heat of Florida, bearded men gather to enjoy smooth malts and surprisingly, look similar to each other. Yes, it’s the popular Hemingway Look-Alike Contest here in Key West, where the locals celebrate the life of Ernest Hemingway, arguably the most prominent writer from the Conch Republic. Each year, this traditional celebration takes place at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, one of the most favorite tourist joint in Key West. Now straight to the competition. The look-alike contest is all about finding the perfect older, heavy-set person who not only looks but also sounds like Hemingway. Likewise, the contest rule says - no hats, no animals on stage, and no balloons. It’s just you with your beard, truth, and courage. What if you’re young? Well, you can try your hand at “Running of the Bulls”, where you are in a literal brawl with faux bulls.
Boston Tea Party Reenactment, Massachusetts
The county of Boston came into limelight with the Boston Tea Party incident in 1773. It was a day when natives dumped caches of English tea into the harbor and sparked the American revolution. Since then, each year, this brave tale of aspirations and struggle is reenacted by the locals to celebrate the courage of our forefathers. Remember, the live Boston Tea Party Reenactment is not a spectator event. Rather, more than 100 fully-costumed actors and locals participate to help recreate the eventful December night from long ago. Despite being quirky, this annual event is an immensely popular affair that sees hundreds of people purchase the tickets well in advance.
(All photographs are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated)