12 bizarre fall festivals you can only find in America

By Jordan Smedberg
September 18, 2018, 10:37:11 AM EDT

Maybe it’s the collective hangover from a summer that took away one too many brain cells, or maybe it’s a creative envelope-pushing bid to tack a few weeks on to the tourist season, but whatever the reason, fall is the season with some of the most bizarre festivals in America. From roadkill cook-offs to worm races, these are the weirdest and wackiest fall festivals.

1. Beef-a-Rama

fall 1

(Photo/Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce)

WHERE:Minocqua, Wisconsin

Each fall, as the final traces of the summer suntans fade and even the most diehard of water skiers put their boats in storage, the tourist town of Minocqua, Wisconsin gets together to throw one last barbecue. Held the last weekend in September, Beef-a-Rama attracts up to 17,000 people to the quaint downtown of this Midwestern island city to grill, roast, and celebrate all things beef. Lifting the open container policy for a single day, the town hosts a beef-eating contest, a cow pie plop, a craft fair, a petting zoo and a jam-packed lineup of live music. The festivities culminate in the Parade of Roasts down Main Street (a figurative title, as the health department took issue with bandying beef about before public consumption a few years ago) and the sacred judging of the roast.

2.West Virginia Road Kill Cook-Off

fall 2

(Photo/Makinsey Cochran)

WHERE: Marlinton, West Virginia

West Virginia gets extra points for turning a stereotype into a lucrative tourist event attracting 10,000 patrons and worldwide press coverage. Fried pig intestines, teriyaki-marinated bear, and opossum stew are just some of the delicacies competing for the $1,000 grand prize at this Marlinton, West Virginia festival. Cooks sign a statement certifying their dish is at least a quarter wild game and judges swear by their cast-iron stomach and lack of vegetarian tendencies. Adding to the fun is the crowning of Miss Roadkill who, aside from bragging rights, walks away with $500. Save your appetite and mark your calendars for September 29.

3. Wooly Worm Festival

wooly buggers

(Photo/Avery County Chamber of Commerce)

WHERE:Banner Elk, North Carolina

On October 20-21 scores of competitors travel to this small, North Carolina ski resort town to race a worm up a three-foot length of string to predict the severity of the coming winter. Legend has it the segments on the worm correspond to the 13 weeks of winter and the lighter brown a segment is on the winning worm, the milder that week will be. Not buying it? Maybe the $1,000 cash prize will sweeten the deal. Over 17,000 people attended last year, so they must be on to something.

4. Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Parade

fall 4

(Photo/Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce)

WHERE:Manitou Springs, Colorado

In 1889, young Emma Crawford came to the area’s cold-water mineral springs looking for a cure to her tuberculosis. Years after her dying wish was honored with a burial atop Red Mountain, her coffin came racing down the mountainside in the spring rains. On October 27, 2018 the town comes together for a costume parade and coffin race to honor (?) Emma Crawford.

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