From the world-famous Twins Festival to some lesser known festivals commemorating a failed presidential candidate to worms, small cities and towns throughout the U.S. are home to some of the quirkiest festivals around.
As we enter into summer and with vaccines available, many festivals are holding their annual events after postponing last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Below, we have found some of the most unique festivals across rural America.
Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk, North Carolina
Each October, Banner Elk — a town of about 1,000 residents in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina — holds the Woolly Worm Festival. This year marks the 44th annual event, scheduled for October 16 to 17, 2021.
Local lore says the 13 bands on the woolly bear caterpillar represent the 13 weeks of winter. Black bands mean cold, snowy conditions, while brown bands mean mild weather is in store.
But each worm is different, so which one should be trusted? For more than 40 years, Banner Elk has held woolly worm races to determine the season’s official winter weather forecaster. Anyone can race a worm, and the grand prize is $1,000, plus prognosticating power.
Twins Day Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio
This annual world-famous event, scheduled this year for August 6 to 8, 2021, brings together twins and multiples from around the world. Since the 1970s, more than 77,000 sets of twins and multiples have attended. The Twins Days Festival is recorded as the Largest Annual Gathering of Twins in the World by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Mile High Kite Festival in Beech Mountain, North Carolina
The Beech Mountain Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Mile High Kite Festival as part of the town’s Labor Day Weekend festivities. Why “Mile High”? Because Beech Mountain is 5,506 feet above sea level. As the highest town in eastern America, Beech Mountain is the perfect place to fly a kite. The elevation almost guarantees great breezes and the temperatures remain in the 70’s while most of the Southeast is still hot and humid at that time of the year.
Kite clubs will be on hand to demonstrate flying techniques and run kid-friendly contests. Free kites will be given to the first 100 children under the age of 13 each day. The Chamber also awards prizes for the biggest kite flown, the most original handmade kite flown, the kite to fly the highest, and more.
Kool-Aid Days in Hastings, Nebraska
More than 80 years ago Edwin Perkins invented Kool-Aid in his hometown of Hastings, Nebraska. The sweet drink quickly became the state’s official soft drink and is now celebrated each year with Kool-Aid Days in August. The festival attracts over 20,000 visitors and includes a variety of events, games, a parade, and the world’s largest Kool-Aid stand. This year’s event is scheduled for August 20 to 22.
Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Known as “The Mushroom Capital of the World,” the region produces over 64% of the nation’s crop. Quakers who settled Pennsylvania and were prolific gardeners who began looking for other crops to grow in hothouse beds is the short version of how mushroom farming took root. Kennett Square is the home of an annual Mushroom Festival, celebrated for over 30 years and taking place each September on the weekend after Labor Day. People can taste-test the best mushroom soups and discover creative ways to enjoy mushrooms – think mushroom ice cream!
And New Year’s Eve is marked with none other than the dropping of a mushroom – an 8-foot, 700 hundred pound, illuminated, stainless steel mushroom.
Wendell Willkie Days in Rushville, Indiana
Wendell Wilkie Days, named after the failed 1940 presidential candidate who lived in Rushville, is a three-day festival that takes place in Rushville and Rush County. The long weekend kicks off with dinner on an old covered bridge. On Saturday there is a parade through town, vendors and live music. Highlights of the festival are the meal on the covered bridge and the “Five in 50,” a 50-mile bike ride that passes over five covered bridges. The event takes place during the third weekend in September.
This festival features over 200 up-and-coming artists that perform free shows with live, 100% original music. The artists are hosted at over 60 venues throughout the downtown Fox Cities area – from indoor coffee shops to outdoor stages of every size. Festival-goers can explore restaurants, shops, museums, bars and theaters that run along the Mile. This year’s event runs August 5 to 8, 2021.
Sea Glass Festival in Cayucos, California
At the heart of the Sea Glass festival are amazing works of art created from sea glass by different artists around the country. Possibly the best part of the event is the Mermaid Ball in which contestants vie for “Best Dressed Mermaid” and “Best Mermaid-MerMan Couple” prizes. And as with any festival there is lots of food and good music. The next installment is scheduled for March 12 to 13, 2022.