Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce
Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce

9 Weird and Wonderful Festivals in June

Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce
Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce

It’s summertime, and there are celebrations going on all over the U.S., often centered around something that makes a community unique. Perhaps you’ll find an event that’s worth a road trip for you!

1. Combine Demolition Derby

Photograph by Flickr user Brian Bennett.

The 2014 Lind Lion’s Club Demolition Derby pits giant farm combines against each other in Lind, Washington. The Derby is Saturday, June 14th, but the festivities begin Friday and last through Sunday, with car and pickup truck races, a parade, a community barbecue, and a coaster car race to wrap things up on Sunday. The Lion’s Club has sponsored the Combine Demolition Derby since 1988, and now prizes worth over $10,000 are given to the demolition winners, as well as the contest for the best-decorated combine.

2. Spock Days

Photograph by Flickr user kurt_eh.

Vulcan, Alberta, was not named for the planet of the Star Trek universe, but they’ve taken the opportunity the name presents seriously in welcoming Star Trek fans. The town boasts a monument to the Enterprise and a tourist museum dedicated to Star Trek. And they have a festival! Spock Days, an annual event in Vulcan celebrating all things Star Trek, will be held on June 13-15 this year. Meet Star Trek celebrities, this year featuring actors from Deep Space Nine. Other events include stargazing, sports tournaments, laser tag, dancing, and barbecue.

3. Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival

Photograph from Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival at Facebook.

The Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival celebrate the tape that holds the world together. Duck Brand duct tape is produced in Avon, Ohio, and the company sponsors the festival on Father's Day weekend every year—in 2014, that’s June 13-15. In addition to the usual concerts, parade, and carnival rides, the festival features duct tape fashions, sculptures, and a craft contest. The parade floats are even made of duct tape! See more pictures of the Duct Tape Festival. 

4. Hatfield & McCoy Reunion Festival

Photograph from the Reunion Festival Facebook page.

The Hatfields and the McCoys feuded across the Tug River for generations. A hundred years after the famous fights, their descendants officially ended it with a party that became an annual festival. The Hatfield & McCoy Reunion Festival will be June 20-22 this year, in Matewan, West Virginia. The festival features bus tours of historic sites pertaining to the Hatfield-McCoy feud, as well as concerts, crafts, food, and a gun show. Don’t miss the tug-of-war!

The annual Hatfield McCoy Marathon will be on June 14th this year. The race goes through two states and three communities: Matewan and Williamson, West Virginia and Pikeville, Kentucky. The course passes through historic sites in both states where feud events occurred.

5. RC & Moon Pie Festival

Photograph from the Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce.

RC Cola and a Moon Pie make for a fine Southern lunch, as they are very popular and available at grocery and convenience stores throughout the South. As a tribute to this tasty tradition, the RC & Moon Pie Festival is held annually in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. This year’s festival will be on Saturday, June 21. Events include the usual festival fare: the Moon Pie Parade and the Moon Pie Fun Run, games, concerts, food, plus the world’s largest Moon Pie!

6. Coney Island Mermaid Parade

Photograph by Paul Stein.

The annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade will be held on June 21st this year, along Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk in Coney Island, New York. The art parade will feature about 1,500 people displaying the seaside eccentricities and history of Coney Island and the rest of New York City. The theme, as always, is centered around the mythology of the sea, and the Grand Marshals are King Neptune and the Queen Mermaid. The Mermaid Parade was founded in 1983 as a Mardi Gras-like celebration of the beginning of summer. This year, it occurs on the day of the Summer Solstice.

7. Okie Noodling Tournament

Noodling is a method of catching fish, usually catfish, with one’s bare hands. The Okie Noodling Tournament happens on June 21st at Wacker Park in Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma. More than $4,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded for the biggest catfish caught within the tournament hours. Of course, there are other distractions during the tournament, like food, vendors, and a beauty contest. The tournament was started by Bradley Beesley, who was filming a documentary on the sport. The tournament was such a hit, it became an annual event. See pictures of noodlers with their catches here

8. Nalukataq

Photograph by Floyd Davidson.

The Nalukataq is a festival to celebrate the completed whaling season, held the third and fourth week of each June in the northernmost U.S. community of all: Barrow, Alaska. In the Arctic Circle, a summer festival can go on 24 hours a day without artificial lighting! Whale meat and blubber are distributed to community members, and the festival continues with dancing, storytelling, feasting, and the traditional blanket toss. Other communities have their own, smaller Nalukataqs.

9. Luling Watermelon Thump

Photograph from Watermelon Thump at Facebook.

I hope you can make it to Luling, Texas for the Luling Watermelon Thump, organized to bring attention to the local watermelon industry. It’s always held on the last full weekend of June, which will be the 26th through the 29th this year. In addition to the continuous concert entertainment, arts and crafts fair, and the carnival, you can enter the watermelon eating or seed-spitting contest, attend the rodeo, enjoy the car show, and bid on championship watermelons.

11-Headed Buddha Statue to Be Revealed in Japan for First Time in 33 Years

Buddha statues come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The various poses and hand gestures of the Buddha represent different virtues, and any items he happens to be holding—say, a lotus flower or a bowl—have some religious significance.

But not all Buddha relics are created equal, as evidenced by the reverence paid to one particularly holy statue in Japan. The 11-headed figure is so sacred that it has been hidden away for 33 years—until now. Lonely Planet reports that the Buddha statue will be revealed on April 23 during the Onsen Festival in Kinosaki Onsen, a coastal town along the Sea of Japan that’s famous for its hot springs. The statue is kept inside Onsen-ji Temple, a religious site which dates back to 738 CE.

Al altar inside Onsen-ji temple

Patrick Vierthaler, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The big Buddha reveal, however, will be held elsewhere. For that, festivalgoers will need to ride a cable car to the top of Mount Taishi, where they’ll catch a glimpse of Juichimen Kanzeon Bosatsu, a name which means “11-faced goddess of compassion and mercy.” It will be hard to miss—at 7 feet tall, the statue would tower over most NBA players. Considered a natural treasure, it’s displayed in three-year blocks once every 33 years. So if you miss the initial reveal, you have until 2021 to catch a glimpse.

“The people of Kinosaki are very excited about this event, especially the younger generation," Jade Nunez, an international relations coordinator for the neighboring city of Toyooka, told Lonely Planet Travel News. "Those who are under 30 years old have never seen the statue in its entirety, so the event is especially important to them."

After paying their respects to the Buddha, festival attendees can take a dip in one of three hot spring bathhouses that will be free to use during the Onsen Festival.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

Miami to Host Inaugural Canine Film Festival

There’s an annual festival dedicated to internet cat videos, so it only makes sense that dog-lovers would create their own film event. As the Miami New-Times reports, the Magic City will host the inaugural Canine Film Festival on July 15 and 16. The fundraising event encourages movie lovers to enjoy submitted flicks with their furry friends.

The festival will take place at the Cinépolis Coconut Grove and Hotel Indigo in Miami Lakes. Festivities kick off on the first day with “A Day at the Movies With Your Dog,” featuring film screenings attended by dogs and humans alike. Other events scheduled throughout the weekend include a dog fashion show, dog yoga, silent auctions, a canine costume contest, an after-party at Miami Lakes' Hotel Indigo, and an awards ceremony.

Admission costs $10 to $1000, and 50 percent of ticket proceeds will benefit local animal rescues and shelters. For more information, visit the Canine Film Festival's website.

[h/t Miami New Times]


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