18 Bizarre Self-Proclaimed Capitals of the World

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Lots of places claim to be the world capital of something -- animals, fruits, vegetables, consumer goods, other odds and ends. But sometimes, that something is really, really strange.

1. Pearsonville, California: Hubcap Capital of the World

Image credit: Center for Land Use Interpretation

While Pearsonville, California, only has a population of 17, it’s still the Hubcap Capital of the World due to one woman’s efforts. Lucy Pearson, “The Hubcap Queen,” has collected thousands of hubcaps spread across three separate wrecking yards. The strange collection has led to television appearances for Pearson and made Pearsonville a filming location for several films, television shows, and commercials.

2. Anthony, New Mexico/Texas: Leap Year Capital of the World


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Anthony, a city straddling the border between Texas and New Mexico, started its Worldwide Leap Year Festival for a very simple reason: no one else was doing one. They established the Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club in 1988 and now, every four years, the little city with a dual-identity holds a mass birthday party for anyone and everyone born on February 29th.

3. Scottsboro, Alabama: Lost Luggage Capital of the World


Image credit: Unclaimed Baggage Center

Ever wondered what airlines do with all their unclaimed luggage? They don’t just stuff it all in a huge warehouse. After making every reasonable attempt to find the owner of a piece of cargo, the airlines will typically sell it to Scottsboro’s Unclaimed Baggage Center: a huge store filled with the stuff other people have left behind. The weirdest thing ever found there? Hoggle, David Bowie's dwarf-goblin minion from the 1986 movie Labyrinth.

4. Willow Creek, California: Bigfoot Capital of the World


Image credit: Bigfoot's Blog

A small, mountainous town in Northern California with fewer than 2,000 residents typically wouldn’t be a big draw, but Willow Creek is different. It’s a huge tourist destination for people interested in Bigfoot, with an annual festival, a museum, dozens of statues and murals, and even foot-shaped burgers dedicated to the elusive creature.

5. La Crosse, Kansas: Barbed Wire Capital of the World


Image credit: KansasTravel.org

If you're big into devil's rope, head over to the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum, located in La Crosse, Kansas. They claim over 2,000 varieties of vintage barbed wire, dioramas, educational films, and antique fencing equipment. The Antique Barbed Wire Society, the group associated with the museum, even has its own magazine if you want to keep up with barbed wire year-round.

6. Bardstown, Kentucky: Bourbon Capital of the World


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If bourbon is your drink, you should make plans to visit Bardstown, Kentucky, where an incredible 97% of all bourbon is made. Their Bourbon Festival, held annually, is six whole days of celebrating the drink and the culture surrounding it. Bardstown is so associated with bourbon that the city has even trademarked its “Bourbon Capital of the World” moniker.

7. Rayne, Louisiana: Frog Capital of the World


Image credit: Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration, 1938

Frogs may not be welcome in your backyard, but they are in Rayne, Louisiana. Formerly a frog exportation center for restaurants worldwide, the town remembers its history with frog murals, statues, and even a yearly Frog Festival, which includes rides and events like the Frog Derby, where frogs dressed in elaborate costumes race against one another.

8. Colon, Michigan: Magic Capital of the World


Image credit: Vintage postcard via MichiganBackRoads.com

When you think of illusions, you probably think of Vegas, but Colon, Michigan, is the real home of magic. Legendary magician Harry Blackstone came to Colon in 1925 and, together with Percy Abbott, started Blackstone Magic Company, later Abbott’s Magic Company. Today, it’s one of the most popular manufacturers of illusions in the world and holds the yearly Abbott’s Get Together magic convention.

9. Dalton, Georgia: Carpet Capital of the World


Image credit: Deej at The World of Deej

You probably have no idea where your carpet comes from, but after reading this you’ll be able to make a pretty good guess: approximately 90% of the world’s carpet comes from the city of Dalton, Georgia. More than 30,000 people are employed by Dalton’s huge carpet industry, which is especially impressive when you consider that the city itself only has a population of just under 35,000.

10. Anoka, Minnesota: Halloween Capital of the World


Image credit: Roxie O. at The Halloween Honey

Today, we take big Halloween celebrations for granted, but back in 1920, it wasn’t really a thing yet. Sick of kids vandalizing everything on Halloween night, the city of Anoka, Minnesota, decided to throw a huge party to keep the youngsters distracted. It worked so well that it became an annual celebration and spread to other cities. By 1937, Congress had officially named Anoka “The Halloween Capital of the World.”

11. Auburn, California: Endurance Capital of the World

It seems like it would be difficult to consider yourself the capital of an abstract concept like “endurance,” but Auburn, California, pulls it off handily. Their Auburn State Park hosts dozens of the toughest endurance-based sporting events in the world every year. From running to biking to horseback riding, Auburn covers the whole spectrum.

12. Binghamton, New York: Carousel Capital of the World


Image credit: seller louloupostcards61 on eBay

The carefree antique carousel is endangered. Fewer than 200 still exist throughout the U.S. and Canada. So, if you want to hit up as many as possible in one trip, head to Binghamton, New York. The city currently holds six of them, each listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One even has Rod Serling’s name carved into it, an event recreated in the “Walking Distance” episode of The Twilight Zone.

13. Beaver, Oklahoma: Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World


Image credit: Beaver Cow Chip News

If you didn’t grow up on a farm, you may not be aware of the phenomenon of cow chip throwing. Simply put, a cow chip is a large, flat, dried piece of cow poop. You take this and throw it as far as you can, like a Frisbee. If that sounds like your idea of a great time, Beaver, Oklahoma, has the world’s largest cow chip throwing competition every April. Knock yourself out!

14. Huntsville, Texas: Execution Capital of the World


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While you may know that Texas executes the most prisoners of any U.S. state, you may not be aware that they all go to the same place to die: the Huntsville Unit, located in Huntsville, Texas. Naturally, their title of “Execution Capital of the World” is unofficial and typically only used by critics of the death penalty, but it is still a fact that more criminals are put to death within those walls than anywhere else in the country.

15. Belleville, Dundee, and Elmwood, Wisconsin: UFO Capitals of the World


Image credit: Flickr user Kables

Traditionally, Roswell, New Mexico, is the place to go for UFOs, but no one told Wisconsin. There are not one, but three UFO Capitals of the World in the Badger State. Belleville, Dundee, and Elmwood, Wisconsin, all lay claim to the title, each at a different end of the state. It’s not just some oversight, either. The three towns have been arguing with each other that they are the true UFO capital for decades.

16. Dyersville, Iowa: Farm Toy Capital of the World


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Dyersville, Iowa, is known for being the location of the movie Field of Dreams. But Dyersville has another feather in its cap. It’s the location of the National Farm Toy Museum, the largest collection of its kind. The museum attracts approximately 30,000 visitors each year.

17. Bloomer, Wisconsin: Jump Rope Capital of the World

Jump rope isn’t an unusual thing in elementary school gym classes, but in 1960, Bloomer Elementary P.E. teacher Wally Mohrman took it to the next level. He began a speed jump roping contest with his students that continues to this day. Whoever jumps his or her rope the most in the time allotted is the winner. If that sounds interesting to you, be aware that even non-students are eligible to compete these days.

18. Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin: Snowshoe Baseball Capital of the World


Image credit: Lake Tomahawk website

Most towns have their beloved local football teams. Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin, has its beloved Snowshoe Baseball teams. It’s exactly what it sounds like. The players strap snowshoes onto their feet and play a game of baseball. That’s not the weirdest part, though -- they play it in the middle of summer with six to eight inches of sawdust spread over the diamond.

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July 24, 2012 - 5:21pm
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