7 Odd and Awesome Festivals and Events in October

Crawford Orthodontics via Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Crawford Orthodontics via Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / Crawford Orthodontics via Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Festivals don’t stop just because school is in session! Here are some events you might want to take in during the month of October.

1. Angola Rodeo

Where: Louisiana State Penitentiary, St. Francisville, La.
When: October 4, 11, 18, and 25

The Louisiana State Penitentiary presents the annual Angola Rodeo every Sunday in October. The rodeo was first held in 1965 for the entertainment of prisoners and employees, and was opened to the public in 1967. Inmates compete in many events from barrel racing to bull riding to "convict poker,” in which four participants sit at a table while a bull is released. The last one to stand up wins! Yes, participation is voluntary. Tickets are on sale now.

2. FireAnt Festival

Where: Marshall, Texas
When: October 9-11

Marshall, Texas, bills itself as the "Birthplace of Boogie-Woogie." Their annual FireAnt Festival includes plenty of music—both free and ticketed. Other events include a parade and the "Tour De Ant" bicycle race and foot race. The resident fire ants, Freddy and Elvira, and their daughter Sugar welcome you to town.

3. Pea Ridge Mule Jump

Where: Pea Ridge, Ark.
When: October 10

An entire festival had grown up around a mule jumping event, and now Pea Ridge bills itself as the “Mule Jump Capital of the World.” Mule jumping hearkens back to raccoon hunters who trained their mules to jump fences instead of taking the time to find a gate. However, mules are stubborn and don’t want to jump. During the competition at the Pea Ridge Mule Jump, mules have three minutes to decide whether to attempt a jump over their designated barrier, while their owner begs and tugs. It’s a real comedy show for spectators. There are other rodeo-type events in which riders use mules instead of horses. See pictures of past events at their Facebook page

4. Woolly Worm Festival

Where: Banner Elk, N.C.
When: October 17-18

People have tried to predict winter weather by studying the stripes on woolly bear caterpillars, but the stripes are different on each woolly worm. The Woolly Worm Festival does it differently with a Woolly Worm Race (or “wace,” as they call it), in which the winner is the definitive caterpillar used to predict the severity of winter weather. How accurate is it? Who cares—the winning caterpillar gets $1000!

5. Wellfleet OysterFest

Where: Cape Cod, Mass.
When: October 17-18

A festival dedicated to seafood, the Wellfleet OysterFest has plenty of oysters, clams, and other shellfish dishes to sample. They also have cooking demonstrations and historical presentations about the area’s shellfishing heritage. Besides the usual festival activities, there’s the Oyster Shuck Off to determine the best shucker of the year.

6. Mountain Moonshine Festival

Where: Dawsonville, Ga.
When: October 23-25

Believe it or not, the Mountain Moonshine Festival centers around cars. Specifically, the souped-up cars that were once used to run moonshine from still to customer while evading law enforcement, but also classic cars of all kinds. There will be a cruise-in, a parade of moonshine runner vehicles and revenue chasers, a Moonshine run, events with race car drivers, a swap meet, and plenty of cars on display. The entire event is a fundraiser for KARE for Kids, Inc.

7. Morton Punkin Chuckin Contest

Where: Morton, Ill.
When: October 24

The Libby’s plant in Morton, Ill., processes 85 percent of the world’s supply of canned pumpkin. Most of the pumpkins are grown within a 150-mile radius of the town, which is the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.” Morton has a Pumpkin Festival every September, but there are still a lot of pumpkins harvested afterward. On October 24, teams of engineers will bring in huge machines designed to hurl pumpkins as far as they can for the Morton Punkin Chuckin Contest. Competitions are held in various classes: human powered (youth and adults), trebuchet, catapult, centrifugal, and air cannon. See photographs of previous competitions at Facebook.