Wild and Wacky Summer Festivals

Looking for something out of the ordinary to do this summer? Start by checking out our compendium of fests happening across the country.

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Meet "Freight Train," the official mascot of the Redneck Games in East Dublin, Georgia. The day-long festival, to be held this year on July 11, celebrates the Southern redneck way of life.
Lebowski Fest
What would the Dude do this summer? You'd probably find him - or pretty close - at the Lebowski Fest. Although it has no official affiliation with the Coen Brothers movie, it's sole mission is to celebrate all things Lebowski. But that's just, like, our opinion, man.
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For an experience that is really out of this world, try The Roswell UFO Festival on July 2-6. In addition to lectures by various authors and researchers, the festival includes fireworks and a costume parade. The truth is out there... in Roswell, New Mexico.
The Detroit Electronic Music Festival began in 2000 and showcases electronic dance music with performances by musicians and DJs, such as George Clinton, Garry Shider (pictured here in his manties) and Parliment-Funkadelic, who reflect the culture and scene. This year's DEFM takes place from May 23-25.
He goes by the name of "Awesome." And he has earned the right. Awesome won the San Francisco US Air Guitar competition, a traveling fest that hits 25 cities, names 1 ultimate winner and uses 0 guitars. You might call it... awesome.
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Lollapalooza: the Woodstock of our time. After its revival in 2003, the weekend fest has continued to be a bonanza of rock, punk, hip hop, comedy and art. This year's line-up is robust as ever with Jane's Addiction, Depeche Mode, Lou Reed, The Killers, Beastie Boys, Ben Folds, Thievery Corporation, Snoop Dogg... oh we're too tired to go on. Let's just say, a lot of great acts and DJs will be on-hand for the fest, which runs August 7-9.
Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival is considered a mecca for those who love art and music. The fest features artists in comedy, the spoken word, dance, theater, music, and film - such as the troupe pictured performing acornDance:Fountain/Works. This year's lineup includes Sheryl Crow, Modest Mouse, and Katy Perry.
The Sasquatch Music Festival was created to showcase indie rock bands and singer/songwriters. Dengue Fever (pictured here) performed last year and other headliners from years gone by include the Beastie Boys, Modest Mouse, R.E.M., Bjork, and Coldplay. This year Mos Def, Nine Inch Nails, and Jane's Addiction are scheduled to appear at the fest, which falls on Memorial Day weekend.
Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw
Nothing says summer time like a giant cow turd, are we right? According to the folks in Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin, we most certainly are. The main event of the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw is obviously the chip toss where kids of all ages can grab a chip - sans gloves, according to the rules - and hurl it as far as they can. But don't worry, it's not against the rules to lick your hand for a better grip on the chip. Oh, and there's also karaoke and live bands... a pretty sweet way to spend your September 4-5, are we right? Yes, we are.
The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival takes place in Manchester, Tennessee from June 11-14. Last year it was named best festival by Rolling Stone magazine, which called it "the ultimate over-the-top summer festival." Performers this year include: Phish, Public Enemy, Snoop Dogg, Elvis Costello, Merle Haggard, Beastie Boys, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Jimmy Fallon will appear for comedy.
If you like Moon Pies (and who doesn't?), then make your way over the the Bell Buckle Moon Pie Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. The fest kicks off with a 10-mile run, which is helpful since it ends with a big helping of the World's Largest Moon Pie. Let the pig out begin!
Started a mere 3 years ago, ThePitchfork Music Festival has grown from its original indie rock roots to extend its coverage to electronic, pop, hip hop, jazz, and metal. Last year Jarvis Cocker (pictured) rocked the house and The Flaming Lips will be playing at this year's fest, which runs from July 17-19.
Summer goes out with a bang at Portland, Oregon's Musicfest NW, a 3-day extravaganza of music and some entertainment. Although they haven't released their lineup for this year's fest, which happens September 16-19, past years have included crowded and sold-out shows, such as the 2008 Girl Talk show (pictured here).
Mike the Headless Chicken Festival
What better way to celebrate the decapitation of a chicken than to race lawnmowers blindfolded? No better way. Mike the Headless Chicken Festival takes place in Fruita, Colorado from May 15-16. The festival honors a chicken (Mike) that had his head cut off in 1945, but refused to die, living for 18 months sans head. The festival features a 5K Chicken Run, where racers run like headless chickens, as well as a recipe contest, chicken dance contest, and live bands.
Monolith Festival
Going green is hitting the festival circuit this summer at the Monolith Festival. It's no wonder. The setting - the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison Colorado - is as stunning as its musical lineup. Last year over 50 bands appeared during the 2-day fest. This year's takes place from September 12-13.
FILE - Yarmouth Clam Festival
Do you like clams? Perhaps it's time to mosey on over the the little town of Yarmouth, Maine, population 9,000, for the Yarmouth Clam Festival. The festival started over 40 years ago in celebration of - wait for it - the clam! This year's fest will take place from July 17-19 and include a shucking contest, kayak races, kids' parade and fireworks.
Merge Festival
Indie label Merge Records is celebrating its 20th year... and what better way than with a 5-day rock-fest? Artists from past and present are going to take part this year from July 22-26. Some acts include Spoon, Spent, The Rosebuds, and Pipe.
Burning Man
The Burning Man Project is an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. According to their website, you can basically do anything you want there except put the well-being of others in harm. Not a bad way to spend a week. The festival runs from August 31-September 7.
Gilroy Garlic Festival
If you've ever driven through - or even near - the town of Gilroy, California, you know what they're famous for: garlic. Now in its 30th year, The Gilroy Garlic Festival features all things garlic... including garlic ice cream. A Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen is also crowned based on her interview, talent, evening gown, and speech about garlic.
This year's 3-day All Points West Festival at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, will feature Coldplay, My Bloody Valentine, Tool, and Beastie Boys. The festival runs from July 31-August 2 and includes music, comedy and art. Last year Matt Costa jammed on keyboards for the crowd.
Taste of Chicago is more than a food fest, although it certainly knocks that out of the park. The 10-day festival includes an amusement park and live music, such as Joss Stone (pictured) who performed last year. This year Emeril Lagasse is scheduled to appear on opening day of the largest food festival in the world.
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Don't let the summer pass you by. Take advantage of all the wackiness and wildlife our great nation has to offer. Happy festing!
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