Thursday, March 11, 2010

Unusual Local Traditions

No reason to discuss why I'm suddenly interested in local traditions of different parts of the country.  It's too hurtful for me to recount.  However, I AM interested, and have turned up some amazing things.

Seattle, Washington:  Naked Bicycle Riders fill Seattle Streets for the Fremont Solstice Parade,
Yes, they ARE naked.  Go on.  Click the link to read the article.  You know you want to.  And at the bottom of the article, there's a video of the event too!  And guess what?  This doesn't just happen in Seattle.  It happens around the world.

Hun Fest:  Baltimore, MD:  Baltimore has a lot of traditions, but of the linguistic type, "Hon" tops them all.  No matter who the natives are talking to, or what the subject, it's "Hon" this and "Hon" that.  And in 1994, they started a festival all about beehive hairdo's and cat-eye glasses.

Running of the Bulls, Spain:   Crazy people jump in front of angry bulls and then try not to be gored.  Yes, this one is pretty famous, but still, it's nuts.

Gay Pride Parade, Los Angeles:
In Los Angeles where I live, it's a yearly event as it is in NY and San Francisco, and many other large cities.  But I can imagine why people in middle America think we're nuts and/or don't believe it happens at all:
Go on, click the link above.  There are LOTS and LOTS of fabulous pictures.

New York Sheep and Wool Festival:
Nirvana to me.  Upstate NY right at the turning of the leaves.  Three days of fibery goodness; everything you would ever want and need if you knit, crochet, hook rugs, embroider, needlepoint, spin yarn, weave, or a bazillion other fiber-related past times.  Classes, demonstrations ranging from sheep herding dogs to chucking pumpkins, the biggest market place I've ever personally seen, a whole section devoted to animal competitions like sheep, llamas, bunnies, and a zillion other fiber sources, and then when you're hungry, step into the middle of the fairgrounds.  There, you can eat this:
Yes, the main fare at the fair is Lamb Burgers.

Missouri Donkey Days:
Three days of all things Donkey and Mule.  On Saturday morning, the events start with a Mule Stampede.  On Sunday, they start with Church Services.

Burning Man Project, Black Rock Desert, Nevada:
"Every year, tens of thousands of participants gather to create Black Rock City in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, dedicated to self-expression, self-reliance, and art as the center of community. They leave one week later, having left no trace."  Their First Timer's Guide[17] says that the first time "can be seriously daunting", and that "Burning Man is not for the faint of heart", but they reassure you that "you're guaranteed not to be the weirdest kid in the classroom". Wow! And the List of Things Not To Bring[18] even includes "Large public swimming pools"! And you must bring a fire extinguisher if you plan to burn your artwork.

You can expect to find art, performance, fire, music, noise, dust, wind, heat, coolth, theme camps, nudity, drunkenness, more art, amplified music, mutant vehicles, chanting, dancing, massage, rope, body art, circus, shaving, poetry, games and parties - but not large-scale flame effects "using 40 or more gallons of fuel".

The ten principles of Burning Man are radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation and immediacy.  I learned of this festival last year and one of my life's goals is to participate.  Everyone I know who has gone (and it turned out that I knew quite a number of people who have) raves about it.

Jumping Frog Jubilee, Calavaras County, CA:
How far can your frog jump?  Where do you get your frog from?  And how much can you win in prizes if you have a long-jumper on your hands?  ($5000 for breaking the world's record!) Mark Twain made this event famous, but it seems unbelievable that in this day and age, it's still as popular as ever and over 2000 frogs compete every year.

  Battle of the Oranges, Piedmont, Ivrea, Italy:
A street fair culminating in the largest citrus food fight in the world.

Festival of Sex and Frankensteins, Linz, Austria:
sperm races and the stripteasing ice dancers; the theme of this year's festival: "Next Sex: Sex in the Age of Its Procreative Superfluousness."  No pictures were available at this particular site although I suppose if I looked harder, I could find some.

World Championship Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival:

"Mountain Oysters" are bulls' testicles, also known as "calf fries". If you can barbecue them better than anyone else, you'll win the World Championship Rocky Mountain Oyster competition in Throckmorton, Texas.

Apparently, "on the cattle drives of yesteryear the calf fries would be tossed into the branding fire and allowed to cook to perfection ... they popped open when they were done."[3] The oysters are provided by the organizers, and the competition rules require judges to award points for "appearance, tenderness/texture, aroma and taste".

If mountain oysters are not your style, there is also a "Tastes Like Chicken" competition, where you can cook anything unusual.

Amtrak Mooning Day, Laguna Nigel, CA:

 Amtrak is the operator of long distance passenger trains in the United States. Mooning is the action of lowering your shorts and displaying your buttocks in an irreverent gesture. And once every year since 1980, thousands of people have gathered at Laguna Niguel, California, to moon at every passing train.

La Tomatina, Valencia, Spain:

La Tomatina kicks off with a climb up a greasy pole to "liberate" a ham from the top. Around noon the water cannons fire and the food fight begins. Trucks distribute over a hundred tons of over-ripe tomatoes. For an hour, the crowd throws these around wildly and enthusiastically, then the water cannons fire again and the fight is over for another year.

Buñol (Bunyol) is a small town, so many people come up from Valencia for the day, then clean up in the river before catching the train or bus back afterwards.

World Gurning Championships, Cumbria, England:

Egremont (in Cumbria, England) keeps alive the old English tradition of Gurning[22]

Gurning involves twisting your face into bizarre contortions, without using your hands or any other prop (although the gurner traditionally peers through a horse's collar).

At Egremont, there were over 40 contestants in 2008, but none could unseat the reigning champion of ten years, Tommy Mattinson.

Bognor Birdman Rally, Bognor, England:

In Bognor, England, there's a seaside pier. Every July they build a launch platform on the end of it, and people can jump off. The aim is to wear a contraption that will take you as far as possible from the pier.

There are prizes for hang-gliders, unique designs, and fun designs. But the biggest prize is £30,000 for anyone who can fly further than 100 metres from the 10-meter launch platform.

The main theme is authorized tomfoolery rather than aviation science, but that hasn't stopped people from taking it seriously, and the maximum distance flown has increased steadily over the years. 100 metres cannot be very long coming.

Spivey County, North Carolina:  Hollering Contest:

All 49 residents of Spivey's Corner, North Carolina turn out for this annual event -- held the third weekend in June -- to celebrate the art of hollerin'. During the yowling good time, participants showcase their "hollerin' style" in any of 5 contests, including the Junior Hollerin' Contest, the Ladies Callin' Contest and, of course, the (men's only) National Hollerin' Contest.

Also featuring pageants and games -- think: a biggest bell pepper contest, a watermelon roll, and a square-dancing jamboree -- the event draws an international crowd. Sounds like a knee-slapping good time. Yee-haw!

Roswell UFO Festival, Roswell, New Mexico:
Have an out-of-this-world experience. This July, both the faithful and the suspicious will gather at the Roswell UFO Festival to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Roswell Incident, when a UFO was said to have crashed into nearby military grounds.
Featuring experts, authors, researchers, and lecturers dissecting the infamous incident, the celebration will also sport an alien parade, an alien costume contest, and an alien hot air balloon ride. I'm sure they'll also be rustling up support (and contributions) for the Alien Apex Resort. If you're lucky, you may get probed.

Alpine Beard Contest, Chur, Switzerland:
it celebrates the mountain man look in Chur, Switzerland every year. It's not every day that guys have the chance to be rewarded based on how long they can grow their beard, so enjoy it.

 Tofu Festival, Los Angeles, CA:
. For anyone who feels they're are missing out by not being able to enter a hot dog or chili eating contest because they don't eat meat, you can test your frantic food eating skills by scarfing down some tasty bean curd as fast as you can. Yummy.
Afterwards, you can cool off with a refreshing beer at the beer gardens or enjoy the sites and sounds of live entertainment.

So what "unbelievable" local traditions to you know of?  They don't have to be nuts to you, they just have to be strange and unfamiliar to people from other parts of the world.

And with these events proven on the Internet as a yearly tradition, why is it so difficult to think that a small Delaware town  (9200 residents) might take Valentine's Day off to celebrate, and that the person who reported it must be lying purposely to upset somebody I love?

If you send me more, I will post about them.  That's a promise.  Either leave your comments below, or e-mail me at Laura et LauraRSilverman dot com.

31 Posts in 31 Days; Today is day 11.

1 comment:

Pickyknitter said...

Hope you are well. Just so you know - I know someone who had to be airlifted out of Burning Man due to a kidney stone. The helicopter flight (he said) was $10,000. And we went back. Woo. crazy.


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