Do you like road trips and crazy local festivals as much as I do? Sometimes I just want to jump in my car and start driving while doing my best impersonation of Dinah Shore singing, “See the USA in Your Chevrolet!” It isn’t always possible for me to hit the open road, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream, right? That’s why we’re going to talk about some of my dream road trips to some of the greatest (and strangest) festivals this country has to offer. So grab a map, and settle in with a tall glass of iced tea because we are going on a (virtual) road trip. Come on…I’ll let you ride shotgun. ROAD TRIP!!!!
Hamburg Armadillo Festival
Hamburg, Arkansas is home to the world famous Armadillo Festival! I know that because their website told me so. The 44th annual Armadillo Festival was held during the first weekend in May. Festival activities included street dancing, a crawfish boil, 5k race, carnival rides and food galore, plus lawnmower drag racing! And, of course, there was the always-exciting armadillo race!
Here’s a bit of Western trivia for ya: Hamburg, Arkansas was the childhood home of Charles Portis, the author of True Grit.
Mike the Headless Chicken Festival
As proof that people will use any excuse to hold a festival, I present exhibit A: the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival. The festival is held the second weekend in May in Fruita, Colorado. For those of you who remain blissfully unaware, Mike “The Headless Wonder Chicken” survived for eighteen months without the benefit of his head. It was during the 1940s and Mike became a sideshow curiosity—one of the more curious curiosities, I must say.
Today, the people of Fruita celebrate “the amazing story of one chicken’s will to live.” The festival includes live music, a car show, a 5k run, a chicken wing eating contest, a marshmallow Peep eating contest, and vendor booths.
Hatfield & McCoy Reunion Festival
Who doesn’t like a family reunion? Well, a lot of people, come to think of it . . . but this reunion is different. The Hatfield & McCoy Reunion Festival in Williamson, West Virginia is more about fun than feuding.
The festival celebrates the famed Hatfield and McCoy Feud. There’s entertainment, live music, food and a marathon. Plus, you can take a 3-hour tour of some of the better-known historic sites of the actual events!
We might have missed out on this year’s Armadillo Festival, but we can still make it to Luling, Texas in time for the Watermelon Thump, the last weekend in June. The Watermelon Thump festivities include an award for the largest Black Diamond watermelon. The top contest contenders are sold at auction, and have brought as much as $22,500. Portions of the auction proceeds support local student scholarships.
Three separate watermelon seed spitting contests are held during the event. Categories are: children, adults and teams. It’s not surprising that the current Guiness Book of World Records watermelon seed spitter is from Luling! In 1989, Lee Wheelis spat a seed a whopping 68 feet 9 and 1/8 inches!
Gilroy Garlic Festival
Vampires beware! The Gilroy, California Garlic Festival is held the final weekend of July. This is one of the world’s largest food festivals. Come celebrate the stinking rose of Gilroy! It’s a breath of fresh, or not so fresh, air.
There will be cooking contests, a children’s zone, live music, arts and crafts booths, and the Miss Gilroy Garlic Pageant. And don’t forget to bring an appetite for all things garlic. Gourmet alley features everything from calamari to garlic fries to garlic ice cream! (Don’t worry. Everyone else will be eating garlic, too.)
Hollerin’ Heritage Festival
The National Hollerin’ Contest has been held in Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina since 1969, but in 2013, joined forces with the Hollerin’ Heritage Festival to form one great big hollerin’ deal! The festival is held on the second Saturday of September on the property belonging to the Spivey’s Corner Volunteer Fire Department. All proceeds from the Hollerin’ Contest benefit the fire department.
The festival features a car show, an antique farm equipment exhibit, a kid zone, live music, vendors and a barbecue cook-off. But, of course, the big draw in the Hollerin’ Contest!
Before the invention of the telephone, hollerin’ was a vital form of long-distance communication. The good people of Spivey’s Corner are keeping that tradition alive. In past years, contestants from the contest have appeared on “The Tonight Show” and the “Late Show with David Letterman”.
Road Kill Cook-Off
The Appalachian town of Marlinton, West Virginia is home to the Road Kill Cook-Off and Autumn Harvest Festival. This event, which takes place in September, has been featured on the Food Network, the Travel Channel and the Discovery Channel.
All entries must have, as their main ingredient, any animal commonly found dead on the side of the road. It seems to me they could do a little marketing crossover with the Armadillo Festival. Cooks must sign a statement certifying that their product is at least 20% wild game.
I’m having images of Grandpa Jones on “Hee Haw,” and the bit, “Hey, Grandpa! What’s for supper?” Well, if you go to the Road Kill Cook-Off, supper might consist of squirrel gravy over biscuits or marinated bear meat. Mmm, Mmm good!
Fire Ant Festival
If you can’t beat them, throw a festival for them! That’s the philosophy behind the Fire Ant Festival in the East Texas town of Marshall. The Fire Ant Festival is always held during the second full weekend in October.
This family festival includes the Fire Ant 5k run, the Tour de Fire Ant bicycle race, a parade and vendors. Oh, and since Marshall is the birthplace of Boogie Woogie, you should expect plenty of exceptional music and dancing in the streets!
Honey, We’re Home!
I hope you’ve enjoyed our virtual road trip as much as I have. Oh, what the heck. I think we have time for one more chorus. Sing with me now!
See the USA in your Chevrolet
America is asking you to call
Drive your Chevrolet through the USA
America’s the greatest land of all!
Happy Trails, y’all!