The Monkey Buffet Festival
(Lopburi, Thailand, also known to Thai folk as Monkey Town)
4000 pounds of delectable goodies are laid out for 2000-plus local macaques. The tradition stems from Hindu lore involving an honorable monkey warrior.
A waterless, real-boatless boat race that takes place in a bone dry river bed. It was originally intended for poking fun at British settlers in Australia, and at formal British regattas.
Hadaka Matsuri (“Naked Festival”)
(Okayama, Japan – the largest festival of the numerous that take place in Japan)
Over 9,000 men in loincloths struggle against each together to try and grab the few good luck charms that are tossed into the crowd.
El Salto del Colacho (“The Devil’s Jump”)
(Castillo de Murcia, Spain)
Men, dressed as devils, take turns leaping over bunches of babies in order to cleanse them of sin and to guard them against illness and evil.
(various North American cities; the original was in San Francisco)
Teams of five tie themselves to shopping carts, dress in funky costumes, are encouraged to sabotage their opponents, and race through metropolitan areas.
Eukonkanto (“Wife Carrying”)
(Sonkajärvi, Finland, plus various other cities)
In The Wife Carrying World Championship, the fastest competitor (carrying his lady) to get through an obstacle course wins his wife’s weight in beer.
(East Dublin, Georgia)
The games were started in response to a media comment on the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta (the comment was that the Games would be held by “a group of rednecks”). The manager of a local radio station teamed up with fellow Georgians to organize a tournament that would reinforce the stereotype. Events include the cigarette flip, toilet seat throwing, a big-hair contest, an armpit serenade, bug zapping by spitball, hubcap hurling, and dumpster diving. The trophies are half-crushed, empty and mounted beer cans.
The next few festivals probably don’t require explanation:
The World Toe Wrestling Championships
The World Bog Snorkelling Championships
(near Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales)
The World Championship Bathtub Race
(San Francisco, CA)
The Hog Parade
I’d like to see:
Holi, The Festival of Colours
(celebrated by Hindus in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and other countries with Hindu populations)
Holi originated as a spring festival of new life, harvest and the fertility of the land. It’s now also a commemoration of a Hindu legend about a king named Hiranyakashipu, his sister Holika, his son Prahlad, and Vishnu (a god). Long story short, Prahlad was devout, the king wasn’t, the king tried to kill his son, couldn’t, asked his sister to do it, she tried, also couldn’t, and the son outlived both of them. Good triumphed over evil. On the eve of Holi, huge bonfires burn to symbolize the fire that Holika used in her murder attempt (in which she burned to death).
During Holi, merrymakers throw vividly-colored powder paint (gulal), shoot brightly-colored water pistols (pichkaris), and toss colorful water balloons and folded paper water bombs at everyone around. Caste and class distinctions are suspended. Partay!!
The Songkran Festival
Songkran occurs during the Thai New Year, which is also the hottest time of year. Young Thais pour scented water over the hands of elders to pay their respects, and many return home to where their special elders live. Images of the Buddha are bathed and cleansed with scented water.
After the nice stuff is out of the way, the entire country goes to town on each other with water guns, water balloons, garden hoses and buckets. The water symbolizes the cleansing of the mind, body and spirit, and washes away bad luck. The water fight lasts between 3-6 days, depending on what part of the country you’re in.
The Windsor Pumpkin Regatta
An 800-meter race across a lake in giant pumpkins. I’ve tried, but I can’t think of a better way to spend my time. Martha Stewart attempted to enter the regatta in 2005 with a stylish 600 lb. specimen, but inclement weather and Canadian border regulations (something about ex-convicts) interfered with the timing of her trip.
ROGER: If and when the polar ice caps melt, I’d love to cruise on a ship up and over/under them just to see a compass needle spin on it’s axis. Well, at least that’s what they say would happen to a compass needle in the movies. C’mon global warming, speed on up!
PHILIP: Don’t forget the Penis Festival in Japan which I’ve blogged about before. Where else can you see everyone from elderly folks to children sucking on an ice cream bar in the shape of a penis in a socially acceptable setting?
DHH: OK, I have to confess that each year, religiously, I watch the Hot Dog Eating Contest on 4th of July at Nathan’s in Coney Island, Brooklyn. When I first became a fan, the champion for many years, as YOMYOMF readers may know, was a Japanese guy, Takeru Kobayashi, but then it just became an annual ritual for me. I love that Eating is considered a “sport,” and broadcast on ESPN. And that when the contestants run onto the dais, you get to hear about their other wins, in like the cheesecake eating or dumpling eating contests, most sponsored by the International Federation of Competitive Eating. I’d love to attend other IFOCE events, like the meatball-eating or hot pepper eating championships. Then again, I’ve never attended the Hot Dog Eating Contest in person, and I live in Brooklyn, where Coney Island is just a subway-ride away. So maybe what I really want is for ESPN to broadcast more Competitive Eating.
ALFREDO: Labor Day. 30 years ago. The US Festival. San Bernardino, California. 110 degree weather, 100 arrests, 35 drug overdoses, one murder, and $12 million dollars lost. But what a glorious folly! This was the doing of uber-geek and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who put together this line up:
Friday, September 3, 1982:
Gang of Four
The English Beat
Saturday, September 4, 1982:
The Joe Sharino Band
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Sunday, September 5, 1982:
Jerry Jeff Walker
Forget all of Sunday, move the Cars and The Kinks from Saturday to Friday, teleport me back to Friday, put me in the front row, and I could die a happy man.
IRIS: Not particularly quirky, but I would love to attend the Montreal International Fireworks Competition some time. Countries from around the world compete over a five week period. I’m sure it would be quite an experience.
QUENTIN: I prefer not to attend festivals if I’m not needed for work… I’m a bit averse of crowds and standing in lines… except maybe the Penis Festival in Japan I am curious about.