8 Odd Festivals and Events in July

UFO Festival Roswell
UFO Festival Roswell / UFO Festival Roswell

July is filled with local fairs and festivals filled with family fun. But even as each festival tries to stand out among the others, a few float to the top for their wacky uniqueness. Here are some that may be worth planning a road trip around!

1. UFO Festival

Photograph from UFO Festival Roswell.

The UFO Festival in Roswell, New Mexico, opens today! And it runs through Sunday. The festival will host twenty guest speakers in a series of lectures from UFOlogists, UFO enthusiasts, and authors. One of the most anticipated events is the costume contest, Saturday morning for pets and Saturday afternoon for humans in all age categories. Entrants don’t just pose; they also put drama into their presentations! Costume contest participants are invited to return for the UFO Festival Light Parade, after dark on Saturday. There will also be plenty of educational events from NASA at the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium, from museum exhibits to children’s shows to stargazing.

2. Christmas in July Festival

Photograph from Christmas in July Festival at Facebook.

West Jefferson, North Carolina, does something a little different for the Fourth of July: they celebrate Christmas! The Christmas in July Festival takes place in the downtown area tomorrow and Saturday. They’ve been doing this for 28 years, even if the festival doesn’t always fall on Independence Day. The tradition started out as the Ashe County Christmas Tree Festival, to promote the local Christmas tree industry. As with all festivals, you can expect musical performances, great food, and local crafts for sale. In addition, you’ll see Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, a puppet parade, Civil War battle re-enactments, and the Christmas tree growers' competitions. What? Tree farmers compete in the fertilizer backpack relay, the one-ton fertilizer relay, a tug of war, and the tree bailing contest. That will be something to see!

3. San Fermin in Nueva Orleans

Photograph by Howie Luvzus.

San Fermin in Nueva Orleans happens the same weekend as the famous Running of the Bulls (Encierro) in Pamplona, Spain, which this year is July 10-13. In New Orleans, the festival celebrates in the same way, with one big difference: the "bulls" at this festival are roller derby athletes! The Big Easy Rollergirls and guests from other roller derby teams dress as bulls and chase festival patrons through the streets of New Orleans. That's just one of many events at the annual festival.

4. The Chicken Show

Photograph from the Chicken Show website.

The annual Chicken Show in Wayne, Nebraska, was established in 1981 for several reasons, one of them being that chickens are funny. This year’s show, with the theme “Cluck Dynasty,” will be the weekend of July 11-13. The premiere event is the chicken grilling contest, along with the hot wings eating contest, chicken arts and crafts, the world’s largest chicken dance, egg roulette, and a cement chicken auction. But there are non-chicken events as well: a wine tasting, a pie and ice cream social, the parade, live entertainment, a street dance, and fireworks,

5. Blobfest

Photograph from Blobfest at Facebook.

Blobfest is an annual street fair, festival, and film festival centered around the 1958 horror movie classic The Blob, held in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Make plans now to attend the 2014 Blobfest July 11-13. Movie showings will be at the Colonial Theater, which are not limited to The Blob: you’ll see other classic movies and a short film competition. Other events include the Tinfoil Hat Contest, a parade, street fair, and costume contest. See more at the event’s Facebook page

6. Hemingway Days

Key West is proud of its most famous resident, author Ernest Hemingway, who maintained an estate there most of his life. The town has held its tribute festival, Hemingway Days, for 34 years. This year’s event will be July 15-20, incuding a tribute to what would have been Hemingway’s 115th birthday on July 21st. In addition to the usual festival events, there will be special literary events, plus a Hemingway lookalike contest, historic tours, the Key West Marlin Tournament, poetry readings, rum tastings, and a “bull run,” with lookalike contestants as the bulls.

7. Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab Challenge

Photograph by Flickr user Jack Siah.

The Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab Challenge will take place on Saturday, July 26th this year in Virginia Beach. The main event is the hermit crab races, in which 300 crabs are expected to participate. The crabs are placed in the center of the race track, and the first to get to the perimeter is the winner. Winners advance to the premiere event, the Crustacean 500. Trophies are awarded to the top three racers, plus the friendliest, biggest, most unique, etc. crabs. There is also a beauty pageant called the Miss Curvaceous Crustacean Beauty Pageant. It’s open to crabs only, but the displays that people create for them are what really move the judges. The Crab Challenge is free for both entrants and spectators.

8. World Championship Cardboard Boat Race

Photograph by Flickr user AGB in AR.

The World Championship Cardboard Boat Race takes place on July 26th at Sandy Beach in Heber Springs, Arkansas. The cardboard boat that not only survives the race, but wins, will earn the Pride of the Fleet Award. The boat that has the most dramatic sinking will get the Titanic Award -and possibly YouTube fame. There will also be a watermelon eating contest, live entertainment, and a volleyball tournament.