10 Distinctive July Festivals and Events
The month of July is chock-full of great festivals and events for every taste. Here are some you could easily build a road trip around. Who knows? You might have so much fun that you make it an annual trip!
1. SAN FERMIN IN NUEVA ORLEANS // JULY 8 - 10, 2016
Each year, New Orleans recreates Pamplona, Spain's famous Running of the Bulls, but with a twist: there are no bulls. During San Fermin in Nueva Orleans, the running involves roller derby skaters from all over the country, led by the local Big Easy Rollergirls. The “Rollerbulls” are armed with horns on their helmets and plastic bats to harass the running participants. The running takes place on Saturday, but there are three days of festivities, starting with a party on Friday, La Fiesta de Pantalones (Festival of the Pants) on Saturday, and El Pobré de Mi (Poor Me) on Sunday, which includes the 6th annual Ernest Hemingway Celebration & Talent Contest.
2. BLOBFEST // JULY 8 - 10, 2016
Blobfest is a film festival in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, centered around the 1958 movie The Blob. Three days of movies are shown at The Colonial Theatre, with The Blob always starting the schedule. Other movies featured this year will include This Island Earth, Queen of Blood, and several short films. Events outside include a street fair with a costume contest and a fire extinguisher parade. Judy and the B9 Robot from Lost in Space will make a special appearance. Blobfest has become an annual pilgrimage for B-movie and science fiction fans.
3. THE WAYNE CHICKEN SHOW // JULY 8 - 10, 2016
Ali Eminov via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
The premier event of the summer in Wayne, Nebraska is the Wayne Chicken Show. The first Chicken Show was held in 1981. According to the festival’s history page, "The theme of 'chickens' was chosen because of 1) the potential for art materials; 2) most people have knowledge and familiarity with chickens; and, 3) chickens can be considered with humor."
And humor is the guiding principle of the festival, which includes an egg toss, egg drop, chicken clucking contest, rubber chicken toss, and a hard-boiled egg eating contest.
4. LEBOWSKI FEST // JULY 8 - 9, 2016
Greg Andrews via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
The Coen brothers' 1998 film The Big Lebowski left a legacy of dedicated fans, who are invited to congregate at Lebowski Fest in Louisville, Kentucky. The weekend begins with an outdoor screening of the film, and continues with a bowling party on Saturday night at Executive Strike & Spare. That will be the venue for the costume contest and a trivia contest as well as bowling.
5. MOONING OF THE AMTRAK // JULY 9, 2016
The legend goes that, in 1979, a patron at the Mugs Away Saloon dared his friends that if they went outside and mooned the next train that came along, he’d buy each of them a drink. The exact details have been lost to time, but the mooning became an annual event at the bar in Laguna Niguel, California. The Mooning of the Amtrak has grown into a Mardi Gras-style festival that is not for children, as it involves nudity. All trains passing by on the second Saturday in July are mooned, and many folks schedule a train ride just for the show. The information page for the event has no pictures, but be aware that other pages on the site have NSFW images.
6. UNDERWATER MUSIC FESTIVAL // JULY 9, 2016
The 32nd annual Underwater Music Festival in the Florida Keys is a treat for snorkelers and scuba divers, but landlubbers can tune in to hear it, too. The music is performed off Looe Key Reef to promote coral reef conservation. Musicians play a variety of instruments, some sculpted specifically for the event by local artist August Powers. Microphones suspended from boats pick up the music to be broadcast on FM radio. Those who attend by boat can hear the music in the water and on the radio with a slight delay, and say it’s an ethereal experience.
7. BORYEONG MUD FESTIVAL // JULY 15 - 24, 2016
Hypnotica Studios Infinite via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
The Boryeong Mud Festival at Daecheon Beach Mud Plaza, Boryeong, South Korea, celebrates the simple joy of rolling around in the mud. It does have a connection with the local economy, as Boryeong has mineral-rich mud flats which are used to make cosmetics. The festival began in 1999, as a way for people to learn more about these minerals and products made from them. Every July, the city trucks tons of mud to the beach for events such as mud slides, mud baths, mud obstacle courses, mud massages, mud sculpting, and mud games.
8. HEMINGWAY DAYS // JULY 19 - 24, 2016
Erin Borrini via Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Key West, Florida, has a festival centered around its most famous resident, Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway Days is scheduled around the author’s birthday, on July 21. The main event is the Papa Hemingway look-alike contest and a Pamplona-style “running of the bulls” with the look-alike contestants, but you’ll also want to take in the marlin fishing tournament, tours of the Hemingway House, an arm wrestling competition, literary events, and the birthday party. This year’s festival will also include a salute to playwright Tennessee Williams. See the full schedule of events here.
9. YALE BOLOGNA FEST // JULY 29 - 31, 2016
Yale, Michigan, is the unofficial bologna capital of the world. It is the headquarters of C. Roy Processing, the manufacturer of Yale Bologna. So while towns all around are celebrating their local vegetables, Yale stages the Yale Bologna Fest. The festival includes a parade, races, craft show, car show, and entertainment, plus an outhouse race, cardboard boat race, bologna toss, and a tour of the C. Roy bologna plant.
10. WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CARDBOARD BOAT RACES // JULY 30, 2016
Heber Springs, Arkansas, is celebrating 30 years of cardboard boat races with this year’s World Championship Cardboard Boat Races. The boats in competition are made of corrugated cardboard, with only waterproofing, tape, and oars allowed—no metal, no wood, no motors. Participants come from all over the world to show off their engineering ingenuity, craftsmanship, and paddling skills—and to have a good time. Awards go to the race winners, but also to the boat with the best design and the crew with the best spirit, and there’s the Titanic Award for the most spectacular sinking. Spectators can enjoy a treasure dig, watermelon eating contest, and a volleyball tournament in addition to the races.