Parade of Oddities
August 8, 2006 11:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for examples for odd festivals, parades, and events that fall outside the norm of the usual holiday and gov't sanctioned events, but that happen on a regular basis, primarily annually. One example is the May Day parade in Minneapolis.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink to Society & Culture (66 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
gay pride
see: San Fransisco & Toronto for notable events, though many other cities have smaller versions.
posted by raedyn at 11:14 AM on August 8, 2006

Mermaid Parade at Coney Island.
posted by hooray at 11:15 AM on August 8, 2006

My hometown of Harvard, MA has an Apple Blossom Festival in May.
Scituate, MA has Scituate Heritage Days in early August.
Woods Hole, MA has Illumination Weekend in early June.
Oak Bluffs, MA has the Monster Shark Tournament in late July.
Bourne, MA has the Scallop Fest in late September.
Marshfield, MA has the Marshfield Fair in mid-August.
Figawi is an annual sailing race from Hyannis, MA to Nantucket, MA on Memorial Day weekend (maybe doesn't count because Memorial Day is a holiday).
posted by nekton at 11:23 AM on August 8, 2006

Madison used to have an annual Kites on Ice festival, but it was put on hiatus in 2006. It is a family friendly festival with all sorts of kites and kite flying out on one of the Madison lakes.

Whiting Indiana, near Chicago has a Pierogi fest each year. Usually the summer heat isn't conducive to stuffing yourself with hot dumplings, but they are great and authentic.
posted by sulaine at 11:25 AM on August 8, 2006

Bumbershoot and Folklife Festivals in Seattle.
posted by frogan at 11:28 AM on August 8, 2006

Rose Festival in Portland Oregon
Brewers Festival in Portland Oregon
posted by ramix at 11:29 AM on August 8, 2006

Texas Rose Festival and Parade (in Tyler every October)
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta (every October)
Village Halloween Parade (certainly odd)
SF Day of the Dead parade
posted by mattbucher at 11:31 AM on August 8, 2006

Issaquah Salmon Days!
posted by pdb at 11:31 AM on August 8, 2006

Pretty much every town up near where I am has an annual festival. In Bethel Vermont it's the White River Valley Festival (formerly the Forward Festival) in Barre Vermont it's Homecoming Days. Every town has one so there's several hundred in the state. When I was growing up in Boxboro MA we had Fifer's Day which celebrated whoever it was that was the first soldier killed in the Revolutionary War, he was from Boxboro and he was a fifer. What sort of thing are you looking for exactly?
posted by jessamyn at 11:32 AM on August 8, 2006

Columbus has the excellent doo dah parade every 4th of July. (Modeled after one in Pasadena.)
posted by Otis at 11:32 AM on August 8, 2006

The Fremont Solstice Parade, in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood, kicks off the annual Fremont Fair.

Apparently it was inspired by something similar in Santa Barbara.
posted by kindall at 11:36 AM on August 8, 2006

Seattle also has the Annual Fremont Solstice Parade.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:36 AM on August 8, 2006

..and great minds think alike.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:37 AM on August 8, 2006

For the last two years Manchester has played host to the glorious, dubious Sparkle - as much as the website would have you believe it's more widely inclusive, in reality it's sort of the transvestite Pride, albeit without the parade and about 90% of the hotness.
posted by terpsichoria at 11:39 AM on August 8, 2006

Jubilee Day in Mechanicsburg, PA. The largest and longest-running one day street fair in the eastern US.
posted by The Michael The at 11:39 AM on August 8, 2006

I lived in McMinnville, OR as a kid, and Turkey Rama was a big deal each year.
posted by the_bone at 11:40 AM on August 8, 2006

This seems right up your alley - Bud Billiken parade (Chicago) - Not only annual, but 77th annual!
posted by true at 11:40 AM on August 8, 2006

You are just in time to toss some tomatoes at La Tomatina.
posted by caddis at 11:41 AM on August 8, 2006

Geek Prom
posted by edgeways at 11:41 AM on August 8, 2006

I've never attended these, but I've heard good things from friends who have:

Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland, CO
The Bologna Festival in Yale, MI
posted by monochromaticgirl at 11:44 AM on August 8, 2006

A little digging on this site should turn up a wealth of such things:
posted by dbmcd at 11:47 AM on August 8, 2006

You've missed the Lowell Folk Festival for this year. It's good every year.

The Robertson Association's Old Timers' Reunion is "is the largest annual reunion of cavers in the world." It's rumored that some people actually go caving while at the reunion. This rumor is usually met with ridicule.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:49 AM on August 8, 2006

How about Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day? Folks line up literally around the block at the store near me. Also, as everyone who works on the House side of Capitol Hill knows, PETA's Lettuce Ladies give out free veggie dogs on the third Wednesday in July on the front steps of the Rayburn House Office Building. Seriously.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:52 AM on August 8, 2006

Avocado Festival, see ya there!
posted by killyb at 11:54 AM on August 8, 2006

Art Car Parade in Houston, TX.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:55 AM on August 8, 2006

gay pride

I'll bite, at the risk of a snarky derail: What's odd about that?
posted by Robert Angelo at 11:56 AM on August 8, 2006

Nothing is more notable to the nose than the Chitlin Strut. The hog calling contest is funny, until you realize how seriously some people take it, and then it's hilarious. An odiferous time is guaranteed for all.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:57 AM on August 8, 2006

Twine Ball Days is the second Saturday in August (yes, this Saturday) in Darwin, MN.
posted by nickmark at 12:00 PM on August 8, 2006

Well, I see you are not close to the Oceana County Michigan annual Asparagus Festival but it is rural Americana with out fiction or pretense. And you have not witnessed a parade until you see children and adults dressed as asparagus--which soon comes to look like giant penises trying to keeping time to a marching band. It is surprisingly sweet and there are some wonderful asparagus delights.
posted by rmhsinc at 12:02 PM on August 8, 2006

Septemberfest in Schaumburg, Illinois.
posted by MeetMegan at 12:04 PM on August 8, 2006

How Berkeley Can You Be?
posted by pgoes at 12:14 PM on August 8, 2006

Twins Days in Twinsburg, Ohio - just missed it, it's the first weekend in August each year.
posted by KAS at 12:23 PM on August 8, 2006

Elvisfest, Ypsilanti MI. Every July.
posted by Roger Dodger at 12:25 PM on August 8, 2006

Apple Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville, Delaware.

Punkin Chunkin in Millsboro, Delaware.
posted by jennyb at 12:29 PM on August 8, 2006

Port Townsend, WA's Kinetic Skulpture Race.
posted by Roach at 12:30 PM on August 8, 2006

There are a ton of odd festivals in Japan. One theme type is the Hadaka Matsuri (naked man festivals). A friend of mine went to one where teams of near naked men wrestle to control a baton thrown by a priest. The priest would throw more then one baton, but only one had a special scent(pine or something). I forget what the prize was.
posted by robofunk at 12:37 PM on August 8, 2006

One stop shopping: eccentric america!
posted by sluggo at 12:46 PM on August 8, 2006

A couple in Austin, Texas:

(1) Eeyore's Birthday Party, which is billed as a "spring festival," but is mostly just an excuse for hippies to wear costumes, play in drum circles, and smoke wacky tobacky in public.

(2) Spamarama, which celebrates the (in)famous potted meat.
posted by conquistador at 12:46 PM on August 8, 2006

Hustisford, Wisconsin, (pop. approx. 1,000) holds the annual New Year’s Day Toilet Bowl.

"The newly crowned king and queen ride through the parade on a giant toilet-shaped float and exchange throwing billowing rolls of toilet paper with parade goers. The football game follows in the snow-covered outfield of the Village Ballpark."

(I grew up a block from the parade route.)
posted by limeswirltart at 12:52 PM on August 8, 2006

Hawaii residents eat more Spam (the meat, not the inbox stuff) per capita than any other state. Hence, the annual Spam Jam in Waikiki.

Just this past weekend, I learned about Forgiveness Day. Pretty obscure, I guess, but we have had annual events marking it for the past few years.
posted by pzarquon at 1:05 PM on August 8, 2006

No one said Burning Man yet?
posted by apostrophe at 1:11 PM on August 8, 2006

The Nanaimo, BC Bathtub Races
The Oregon Country Fair, just outside of Eugene, Oregon - a shadow of it's former glory days but still unique.
posted by lois1950 at 1:28 PM on August 8, 2006

There's the original Arcata to Ferndale Kinetic Sculpture Race in Northern California.

And Poultry Days in Versailles (pronouced ver-SAILS) Ohio
posted by stefanie at 1:31 PM on August 8, 2006

Why, just yesterday, I was telling friends about Belgium's totally awesome Cat Festival.
According to legend, in 962 A.D. Baudoin III, the Count of Flanders, ordered the people of Ypres to throw two or three live cats from the tower of his castle. This was an act of renouncing pagan superstitions in which the cat featured largely, often as a symbol of fertility. This centuries old festival was banned in the eighteenth century by Joseph II, and again after the French occupation, but in 1817 it was again observed by having a single citizen, wearing a red jacket, white cap, and ribbons, throw down a live cat from the castle, which often survived the drop. During World War I it was observed by a concert of bells, and in 1938 the festival was reinstated at the current date, with live cats replaced with toy stuffed ones.
posted by Skot at 1:34 PM on August 8, 2006

Peoplehood is a puppet parade put on by Spiral Q in West Philly ever year. I've attended a number of times and I always enjoy it.
posted by SteveFlamingo at 1:47 PM on August 8, 2006

Olympia, Washington's Pet Parade.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:48 PM on August 8, 2006

gay pride - moi

at the risk of a snarky derail: What's odd about that? - Robert Angelo

I'd actually missed the word 'odd' in the OP, and was focusing on the "outside the norm of the usual holiday and gov't sanctioned events, but that happen ... annually". The first pride event I went to - almost 20 years ago now - was not sanctioned by government. The City had refused to declare Gay Pride day and had denied the parade permit. We marched anyways, but in masks and with bags over our heads. It was a lot more protest-like than the mini carnival I took my daughter to this year.

posted by raedyn at 1:48 PM on August 8, 2006

The weirdest one I know is "Darkie Day", a festival which happens in Cornwall in the West of England.

And if you're thinking "Darkie? That couldn't be what it sounds like, surely?" you're sadly wrong.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:20 PM on August 8, 2006

There's the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC. Here in Louisville, there's the Derby Festival, which lasts weeks and includes Thunder Over Louisville, a balloon race, a steamboat race, a bed race, and the Pegasus Parade. These are pretty mainstream, I guess.

Elsewhere in the state there's Court Day, and in Pineville there's the Mountain Laurel Festival. And in Pikeville, they have Hillbilly Days.
posted by dilettante at 2:40 PM on August 8, 2006

The Beef-A-Rama, held in Minocqua, Wisconsin, in September, is truly a sight to see.

And the site at which this URL is found has a treasure trove of more of the same.
posted by megatherium at 2:41 PM on August 8, 2006

Zilker Park Kite Festival held annually in Austin (4th Mar'07). I attended it this year. It was good fun with events such as synchronized kite-flying and awards for the smallest kite.
posted by forwebsites at 2:52 PM on August 8, 2006

The Mummers Parade held on new years day in Philadelphia may have the fancy oddness you are seeking.
posted by freq at 3:05 PM on August 8, 2006

The McClure Radish Festival. Beer, radishes, not much else.
posted by klarck at 3:06 PM on August 8, 2006

Baltimore has a zillion festivals, big , small, and even smaller. It also used to have the I Am An American Day Parade but sadly that seems to have lapsed, which is a drag, because it was awesome and featured Miss Dundalk in a prom dress sitting on a brown plaid couch in the back of a pickup waving slowly.

We have a bunch here in Asheville too, including Brewgrass, Folkmoot, and of course Bele Chere.
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:47 PM on August 8, 2006

The Collinsville Horseradish Festival. Beer, horseradishes, maybe a little ketchup thrown in.
posted by rabbitsnake at 3:49 PM on August 8, 2006

Dragon*Con (gigantic annual SF con) has an annual Parade, complete with Stormtroopers marching down the streets of Atlanta. (2004 photos)
posted by fings at 4:08 PM on August 8, 2006

Juneteenth in Texas is the anniversary of the day Texan slaves found out about the Emancipation Proclamation (2.5 years too late).
BagelFest is a celebration of the bagel in Mattoon, Illinois. Unfortunately, they celebrate the crappy Lender's bagels that are manufactured there.
posted by MadamM at 4:10 PM on August 8, 2006

My hometown of Lagrange, Indiana has an annual street fair (Indiana's oldest, I believe) every Fall called Corn School. Other Hoosier highlights include Fort Wayne's Johnny Appleseed Festival and Rome City's Chatauqua Days.
posted by web-goddess at 4:23 PM on August 8, 2006

Henley-On-Todd Regatta in Alice Springs - "boats" are raced on foot down the dry bed of the Todd River.
posted by andraste at 5:12 PM on August 8, 2006

Surprised nobody's mentioned the Asstival, er... Mule Days at Benson (NC), coming up on 21-24 September.

Another offbeat September offering — but halfway around the globe — is The World of WearableArt. WOW is actually a very cool art/fashion smashup that takes place in Wellington NZ; Prime Minister Helen Clark has taken part. ('05 winners' gallery here; scroll down for pix)
posted by rob511 at 5:25 PM on August 8, 2006

The Loyalty Day Parade and the Garlic Festival on the Long Beach Peninsula. (Sorry, haven't lived there in years. Don't really remember which small town hosted what.)
posted by Meep! Eek! at 5:39 PM on August 8, 2006

Olympia, Washington has a Procession of the Species parade. (I guess it's the opposite of the pet parade -- there are no pets allowed, just people dressed as animals or plants or things.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 6:28 PM on August 8, 2006

Chestertown Tea Party (Chestertown MD, about Memorial Day Weekend) to celebrate the dumping of the British Tea into the river (Boston wasn't the only Tea Party!)

Sweet Pea Festival in Bozeman, MT, first weekend in August. Artsy festival with music and art.

Saint Patricks Day, in Butte, MT (I hear it is an all day green beer fest with a parade thrown in.)

Testicle Festival, Clinton, MT, to celebrate the castration of the steer. I never actually attended, but I hear they taste great.

Wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 7:09 PM on August 8, 2006

Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

(The real one's in Germany, of course.)
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 7:09 PM on August 8, 2006

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