Funky Festivals
by Joey Green

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World Championship Punkin Chunkin
The weekend after Halloween, competitors launch leftover pumpkins from giant compressed-air cannons, catapults and treb­uchets that send the gourds hurtling thousands of feet through the air. The annual event, which is held in Bridgeville, Del., lasts three days and attracts crowds of more than 20,000 people. It began in 1986, when four Delaware men were inspired by a news story about physics students throwing pumpkins at nearby Salisbury University. They decided to compete to see who could hurl a pumpkin the longest distance. The winner used a catapult to launch his pumpkin 126 feet. In 2008, a team at the World Championship set the world record, flinging a pumpkin 4,483 feet. I loved the incredible engineering. Debbie loved the abundant pumpkin pie.

The Roadkill Cook-Off
In Marlinton, W.Va., we sampled such backcountry dishes as squirrel gravy over biscuits, teriyaki-marinated bear, deer sausage and porcupine stew. Begun in 1991, the annual Roadkill Cook-Off awards a $1,000 top prize, attracts more than 10,000 people and is host to the Little Miss Roadkill pageant (“Every girl’s dream,” says our daughter, Julia). The official cook-off rules specify, “All entries must have, as their main ingredient, any animal commonly found dead on the side of the road,” although the judges urge contestants to refrain from procuring critters from the highway. With entries (and entrées) bearing names like Pothole Possum Stew, Fricasseed Wabbit Gumbo and Smeared Hog with Groundhog Gravy, it’s no surprise the official rules declare, “All judges have been tested for cast-iron stomachs and have sworn ­under oath to have no vegetarian tendencies.”

Outhouse Races
We were flush with excitement as teams of three, dressed in outlandish costumes, pushed decorated outhouses mounted on skis down snow-covered Main Street in Conconully, Wash. One team member sits inside the outhouse wearing a helmet while two others plunge the outhouse along the 100-yard track as spectators cheer. Launched in 1984, the annual January event is the longest-running outhouse race in the United States. The “head-to-head” races culminate with the Bucket Race (with pushers wearing five-gallon plastic buckets over their heads while the rider directs them).

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Copyright © 2013 Joey Green. All rights reserved.
Reprinted from American Way magazine.


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