People love food and celebrate it in all forms at festivals all over the world. But be forewarned if you are planning to attend one of our top 10 outlandish food festivals you won’t encounter your average, run-of-the-mill festival foods. Unless, of course, your diet frequently consists of roadkill, frog legs, animal testicles, insects and other similar delicacies.
If you are feeling hungry (and adventurous) venture to one of these festivals to celebrate locally prepared dishes made with ingredients not for the faint of heart. Or, if a truly messy food fight is more your scene, helmet up, dress down, and head to Italy or Spain for some serious food festival fun.
Roadkill Cook-Off, Marlinton, W.V., United States
Have you ever seen a dead animal lying on the side of the road and thought, ‘Wow, I’m hungry?’ If you answered yes to this question, then the annual Roadkill Cook-Off in Marlinton, W.V., might be the perfect food festival for you. Held the last Saturday in September, this festival features dishes made from creatures who often find themselves flattened on the side of the road. Actual roadkill isn’t used in the dishes, but visitors will be sure to get an authentic roadkill experience with sample dishes such as tacos filled with armadillo, porcupine stew and marinated bear. Yum!
La Tomatina, Bruñol, Spain
Feel like taking some aggression out on strangers by throwing crushed tomatoes at them for an hour? Then head to Spain on the fourth Wednesday in August for the largest tomato food fight you will ever encounter. La Tomatina began around the end of World War II due to a rumored local fight (the exact origins are unknown) and now draws around 45,000 people every year to toss nearly 250,000 pounds of tomatoes at one another. Participants are urged to wear goggles and gloves during the fight and of course clothing you don’t mind getting permanent tomato stains on.
BugFest, Raleigh, N.C., United States
Only for those with an ironclad stomach (or fans of “Fear Factor”), the annual BugFest sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, incorporates insects and creepy crawlers in all of its featured dishes. This September festival encourages participants to try bug-inspired foods prepared by local chefs, and fine-tune their entomophagy skills — the practice of eating bugs. Past featured dishes have included superworm enchiladas and cinnamon-sugar crickets.
Testicle Festival, Clinton, Mont., United States
If the name of this annual festival hasn’t made you squirm yet, then keep reading. This Montana event, held in August and known formally as the Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival, is named for one of the main dishes served — bull testicles. Undecided on your testicle of choice? Enjoy a sampler plate of the featured fare. Reports from last year’s festival found that participants consumed an average of 110 pounds of bull and bison testicles served deep fried, beer-battered or marinated. After attending this one-of-a-kind event you’re sure to be chanting its motto: “I had a ball at the Testicle Festival.”
Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, Italy
This food festival is only for the brave considering its participants often come out bruised, injured, or even hospitalized. The Battle of the Oranges, which lasts for three days and concludes on Fat Tuesday, involves teams of helmet-clad diehards hurling oranges at one another in a tradition that dates back to the 12th century. Festival organizers ship in approximately 400 tons of oranges annually for the event, and the aftermath requires a clean-up crew of around 100 members. Pull out the full-body armor for this festival!
Cheese Curd Festival, Ellsworth, Wis., United States
To help promote the local dairy tradition in the town of Ellsworth, Wis., locals began hosting the Cheese Curd Festival (taking place June 28-30), complete with eating contest and cheese carving competition. Now, a cheese festival in a state known for its cheese production may not seem uncommon. But given the main dishes at this festival derive from cheese curds — the solid part of soured milk — it deserves this ranking in our top food festivals for those with a stomach of steel.
Waikiki Spam Jam, Waikiki, Hawaii, United States
A food staple in Hawaii, Spam® is canned precooked meat that many refer to as “mystery meat.” This annual festival honoring the staple (held in April this year) is one of the most popular Hawaiian festivals combining the love of Spam with a family atmosphere and live music. Don’t fear if this one-of-a-kind meat isn’t your favorite; the festival features some of Honolulu’s best restaurants serving up the meat in a variety of ways for all to enjoy.
Chinchilla Melon Festival, Chinchilla, Australia
What does the so-called “Melon Capital of Australia” do with its excess Watermelon crop? Host a melon-filled festival, of course! Held once every two years in February in Chinchilla, this melon festival features activities like seed spitting, skiing with watermelon on your feet, melon tossing and more. Past festivals have made the Guinness Book of World Records for most watermelons broken on someone’s head in one minute: 47. Talk about a major headache.
Gilroy Garlic Festival, Gilroy, Calif., United States
Calling all garlic lovers! The annual Gilroy Garlic Festival celebrates all things garlic in the nicknamed “garlic capital of the world,” Gilroy, Calif. The July festival, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, attracts around 100,000 visitors all uniting for the love of garlic. Delicacies include garlic goodies like lollipops, soft drinks and ice cream. Hope they sell gum as well!
Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival, Fellsmere, Fla., United States
Who wouldn’t love of mouthful of frog leg or gator tail? Well, you’re sure to get plenty of both at this Florida festival held in January. The festival features plenty of other tasty treats as well but many visitors come to get the authentic culinary experience. Festival profits go toward supporting youth recreational needs, so rest assured you are snacking on frog legs for a good cause.
(Main image: sonewfangled)