State-By-State: 50 Unique & One-Of-A-Kind Festivals & Fairs

Bookmark this for summer travel fun!

By Macaroni KID June 6, 2024

Summer in the United States doesn't mean just scorching temperatures and lazy beach days. It also means fairs and festivals. We love hearing about the unique, quirky, and one-of-a-kind festivals that showcase the diverse cultural landscape of our nation. From the charmingly bizarre to the downright wacky, each state boasts at least one eccentric celebration that could really only be celebrated in that town.

We asked our Macaroni KID publishers for the weird, wacky, and downright bizarre festivals in their states, and they didn't disappoint! Here is a whirlwind tour of wacky festivals and fairs in all fifty states. So grab your sunscreen, your Tums, and a sense of adventure as we hit the road for an eccentric state-by-state tour of America's one-of-a-kind summer festival circuit:

Please note: The dates listed are when the festivals and fairs are traditionally held. This may have changed, so do your homework!

Alabama: The 9-1-1 Festival

Did you know that Haleyville, Alabama, is the birthplace of the country's 911 emergency call system? It's true! To celebrate, the town holds an annual 911 Festival each year. June

Alaska: Chickenstock Music Festival

Shake your tailfeathers at the annual Chickenstock Music Festival at Chicken Gold Camp in tiny Chicken, Alaska. One of the highlights is the "Peep Drop," when a bush plane flies over and drops Peeps on the festival goers below. It’s a "Cluck'n good time!" June

Arizona: Standin' On the Corner Festival

There's only one place in the country that could host this festival: Winslow, Ariz. Come and stand on the corner in the town where the Eagles' classic "Take it Easy" comes to life. During this annual festival, groove to music, take part in a horseshoe tournament, and don't forget to get a picture on the famous corner. September

Kara Ault | Macaroni KID

Arkansas: Prairie Grove Clothesline Fair

This historic arts and crafts festival features food, vendors, a parade, and gospel music, but is perhaps most well known for the square dancing competition. More than 600 kids on 80 square dancing teams (that's a thing in Arkansas!) took part in 2023. A sight to behold! May

—Recommended by Kara Ault, publisher of Macaroni KID Rogers-Bentonville, Ark. and Macaroni KID Fayetteville, Ark., and Mary Pointer, publisher of Macaroni KID Little Rock Metro, Ark.

California: Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee

Join the annual celebration in the Sierra Foothills, where Mark Twain's legacy lives on through four days of frog jumping competitions inspired by "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," alongside classic Americana events like a livestock rodeo, carnival rides, and the notorious Destruction Derby. May

Colorado: Mike The Headless Chicken Festival

The Headless Chicken Festival in Fruita, Colorado, celebrates the legendary tale of Mike the Headless Chicken with quirky activities, including a "Run Like a Headless Chicken Race," poultry games, live music, and delicious food vendors, embodying Fruita's unique history and sense of humor in one event. June

Connecticut: Milford Oyster Festival

Enjoy great food and fabulous entertainment for adults and children alike. More than 30,000 locally harvested oysters and clams are consumed during this 50-year-old festival. Don't miss the oyster shucking and eating contest! August

Delaware: The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival

The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival is the largest free jazz fest on the East Coast. Over the course of four days, audiences can bask in the amazing live performances and immerse themselves in the culture and magic of jazz in downtown Wilmington at this festival, named for the Wilmington-born jazz trumpeter. June

Florida: Hemingway Days

Celebrate the legacy of Ernest Hemingway at Hemingway Days in Key West, Florida, featuring look-alike contests, literary events, and exploration of Hemingway-related landmarks, including his former home-turned-museum. July

Georgia: Firefly Festival

Fireflies, kids and families are invited to Madison, Ga., for the Firefly Festival. Don't miss the annual kids' night featuring stilt walkers, music, bubbles, face painters, inflatables, crafts, and family entertainment. July

Hawaii: Duke's Oceanfest

Join the celebration of Hawaiian surf legend and Olympic champion Duke Kahanamoku at Hawaii's premier ocean festival on Oahu's Waikiki Beach, featuring a variety of ocean sports events like surfing, paddleboard racing, and beach volleyball, alongside cultural highlights such as the sunrise lei draping ceremony on the Duke Kahanamoku Statue. August

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Idaho: Spud Day

Gather to celebrate Idaho's most famous crop with potato-themed events, including potato sack races, a potato parade, potato peeling contests, and the crowning of the Potato King and Queen, all while enjoying delicious potato dishes. September

Illinois: Superman Celebration

The town of Metropolis — yes, that's really its name — honors the fictional superhero each year with costume contests, comic book vendors, and Superman-themed activities during a four day event. June

Indiana: Valparaiso Popcorn Festival 

Valparaiso celebrates the state's popcorn heritage with popcorn-themed food, contests, and a parade each year. Pop to it! September

Iowa: Britt Hobo Days

Since 1900 the City of Britt, Iowa, has been hosting a National Hobo Convention. Now this weekend festival includes a parade, entertainment, arts and crafts, food, and lots of fun. The highlight of this festival is the election of the King and Queen of the Hobos. Not to be missed is the Hobo Memorial Cemetery, where many steam-era hobo have been laid to rest, and the National Hobo Museum, where many authentic hobo artifacts are on display. August

Photo courtesy of Mitchell County, Ks.

Kansas: Twine-A-Thon

Cawker is home to the world's largest ball of twine ... definitely something to celebrate! During the annual twine-a-thon event, there are entertainers, a community picnic, and the chance to add your own twine to the ever-growing ball of twine. You have to see it to believe it. August

Kentucky: The World Chicken Festival

An egg-citing international celebration of chicken heritage and legacy takes place in London each year to honor the legacy of Colonel Sanders (his first restaurant was in London) and boasts four fun-filled days of Kentucky's largest festival, including the World’s Largest Stainless Steel Skillet, crazy contests, free music, vendors from across the country, carnival rides, and mouthwatering food. September

Louisiana: Beauregard Watermelon Festival

Take part in the watermelon seed spitting and eating contests and watermelon games, and enjoy live music, carnival games, and more. June

Maine: Yarmouth Clam Festival

Highlights include a clam shucking contest, clam cooking competition, and various clam-themed dishes. And don't miss the Diaper Derby for the youngest festival-goers. July

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Maryland: HONfest

HONfest celebrates the working women who helped make Baltimore the great city it is! Hon, short for honey, is a classic Baltimore term of endearment used by the city's mothers and grandmothers. The festival has grown over the past three decades from a tiny pageant to a nationally recognized festival. Many women dress in fashion from the '50s and '60s, complete with a beehive hairdo. June

Massachusetts: Pink Flamingo Day

Flamingos may not be the first thing you think of when you think of Massachusetts. But it's time to change that mindset. Leominster is the birthplace of the plastic pink flamingo! They celebrate at this unique festival each year. Make sure to wear all your flamingo wear. June 

Recommended by: Emily Cabrera, publisher of Macaroni KID Leominster-Clinton, Mass.

Michigan: National Cherry Festival 

Since 1925, the National Cherry Festival has offered eight days packed with food, fun, family-friendly activities, and entertainment, all with a cherry on top. Kicking off the festivities, the United States Navy Blue Angels thrill spectators with an Air Show. But that's just the start, with more than 100 events throughout the week, including a Cherry Pie Eating Contest and Cherry Pit Spitting Contest. June and July

Minnesota: Henderson Sauerkraut Days 

While most towns opt for conventional fruits or vegetables in their celebrations, Henderson, a quaint southern Minnesota town, devotes its fervor to kraut, hosting a delightful parade, a car show, and a spirited sauerkraut eating contest, all accompanied by ample servings of free kraut during its annual summer festival. June

Mississippi: Tupelo Elvis Festival

Celebrate the King of Rock 'n' Roll's legacy with hip-shaking performances, blue suede shoes, and plenty of southern charm at the Tupelo Elvis Festival in Mississippi. June

Missouri: Twain on Main Festival

Hannibal celebrates the Twain on Main Festival each year to celebrate the author. The Wild West-themed festival includes a frog-jumping contest, Tom and Becky look-alike contests, and literary-themed activities. May

Montana: Whoop-Up Days

This annual summer celebration in the small town of Conrad, called Whoop-Up Days, includes a pancake breakfast, a run, parades, live music, and tons of rodeo fun. June

Nebraska: Kool-Aid Days 

Hastings holds an annual weekend festival to celebrate the inventor of Kool-Aid, their own Edwin Perkins, who created the drink mix in 1927 in his mother's kitchen. There are Kool-Aid drinking contests, a Kool-Aid stand contest, a parade, and much more. Come and stain your lips red. June

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Nevada: Burning Man

Creativity knows no bounds at this electrifying festival, held amidst the vast Nevada desert. It includes captivating art installations, boundless self-expression, and a vibrant community proud to hold the biggest party ever held in the middle of a desert. August and September

New Hampshire: North Country Moose Festival

Colebrook holds an annual moose festival with highlights including a Moose Cruise Parade, a Moose Calling Contest, Cow Plop Bingo, and shows by the Axe Women Loggers of Maine. August

New Jersey: The Wildwoods International Kite Festival

Kites transform the Jersey Shore into a vibrant rainbow of cheerful colors every spring as kite enthusiasts from around the globe converge in Wildwood for a spectacle of giant kites, creative designs, engaging workshops, and contests. May

New Mexico: Roswell UFO Festival 

Welcome to Roswell, the site of an alleged UFO crash in 1947. Each year, UFO enthusiasts gather here for a festival where they commemorate the alleged UFO crash in Roswell with alien-themed events, including costume contests, a UFO parade, and lectures on extraterrestrial phenomena. July

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New York: Mermaid Parade

Not technically a festival, but this annual can't-miss Coney Island, Brooklyn, parade seemed like it should make the list. This wild spectacle honors a century of seaside artistic spirit with crowned royalty, fantastical creatures, marching bands, and more. Organizers say it is the nation's largest art parade. June

North Carolina: North Carolina Black Bear Festival 

The 'wildly' successful Black Bear Festival takes place near Plymouth, the home to the world’s largest black bears. The Black Bear Festival was created to celebrate these magnificent animals. Highlights include the B’Air Show, featuring the US Army’s elite skydiving team, boat rides, tubing and other water fun, and a foot race called "Can You Outrun a Black Bear?" There's also plenty of educational presentations and opportunities to go out with wildlife experts to try to spot a black bear or two. June

North Dakota: Chokecherry Festival 

The chokecherry festival in Williston celebrates the superfood that grows in abundance in the area. Highlights of past festivals include a kid's money dig, cherry pit spitting contests, a Lite Brite Fun Run, and free ice cream with chokecherry syrup. August

Ohio: Twins Days Festival 

In Twinsburg — where else — an annual gathering of twins and multiples from around the world takes place each year. The festival includes twin contests, a parade, and various twin-related activities. August

Recommended by: Erica Alhorn, twin mom and publisher of Macaroni KID Wheaton, Ill.

Oklahoma: Okie Noodling Tournament 

Step right up to the 2024 Okie Noodling Tournament & Festival, where the noodles aren't for dinner, but for daring hands diving deep into Oklahoma creeks to catch catfish. This event started as as tournament 20 years ago at Bob’s Pig Shop, but has grown into the world’s largest hand-fishing tournament, and also includes festival fun like a Catfish Cook-Off, Kids Catfish Eating Contest, Watermelon Crawl, and more. June

Oregon: PDX Adult Soapbox Derby

This may not be a fair or festival by the strict interpretation of the word, but it's an all-day event that thousands of people come to watch in Portland each year. Homemade soapbox cars race down Mount Tabor at speeds up to 50 MPH, offering a wild ride of creativity and community spirit that's as wacky and wonderful as it sounds. Come and watch, or better yet, build your own soapbox car and take part!

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Pennsylvania: Kecksburg UFO Festival 

Built around the 1965 crash site of what might have been a meteor, part of a Russian satellite, or, maybe, a UFO (locals say the government came and took the object away and haven't ever revealed its origins), this festival becomes more and more popular each year. Past festivals have included a UFO-themed parade, a hospital bed race, a hot dog eating contest, and a hay bale toss. E.T.s would be so confused.

—Recommended by Kayla Hawley, publisher of Macaroni KID Uniontown, Pa.

Rhode Island: Gansett Fest

This weekend festival in Narragansett features all the summer New England fun you can pack in, from old-fashioned fun like potato sack races to the Calamari Festival, which has grown to be one of Narragansett’s biggest events, serving more than 1,500 lbs. of calamari each year and drawing in thousands of people from across Southern New England. September

—Recommended by Joyce Campbell, publisher of Macaroni KID Southern Rhode Island

South Carolina: Charleston Caribbean Jerk Festival

Don't be a jerk, bring the good vibes and get yourself to this finger-lickin' good festival in Charleston featuring Caribbean food, culture, and music. Judges will taste test to decide on the Top Jerk Chef 2024, while the Jerk Wing King or Queen is determined in a chicken wing eating contest. July

South Dakota: Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo

The annual Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo takes place in late July at the Horseman's Sports Arena in Mitchell, near the iconic Corn Palace. You'll find a multi-day event that includes rodeo fun, a chili cook-off, live country music, and even a rodeo parade. Bring your cowboy boots. July

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Tennessee: RC Cola and MoonPie Festival 

The annual RC-Moon Pie Festival is a wacky, fun-filled event celebrating the South's original fast food duo — an ice-cold RC Cola and a fresh MoonPie. Visitors from around the globe gather for music, cloggers, quirky contests, MoonPie games, and a parade. The culmination of the event includes the cutting of the World's Largest MoonPie — an out-of-this-world dessert for all! June

Texas: World Heritage Festival 

San Antonio is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas. It celebrates that distinction with its annual World Heritage Festival that includes biking tours, light projections, local bands, and amazing food. September 

Utah: Strawberry Days

It's a berrylicious extravaganza at Pleasant Grove’s Strawberry Days. Established in 1921 and still going strong, this berry bash is Utah's pride and joy, boasting everything from parades to pet shows, rodeos to 5K runs, and of course, the star of the show: juicy strawberries in every form imaginable. June

Vermont: Festival of Fools

This 3-day festival features 100+ free performances by international performers, including acrobatics, dancers, music, comedy, street theater, and a grand finale on the last day featuring all of the performers. August

Virginia: Blackbeard Pirate Festival

Every June, Hampton's waterfront comes alive with dozens of pirate reenactors costumed in historically accurate garb, and Hampton is transformed into the busy seaport it was in the 18th century. The fun includes impromptu street skirmishes, full-scale sea battles in the Hampton Harbor, and a re-enactment of Blackbeard's final battle. Tall ships and 50+ private sail and powerboats fill the harbor, decked out in their own pirate gear. June

Find more local fun on our Event Calendar!

Washington: National Lentil Festival 

Farms within a few hours of Pullman, Wash., grow about 90% of lentils in the U.S. To celebrate the little lentil and its local importance, Pullman hosts the National Lentil Festival each year. Lentil Festival fun includes the legendary lentil cookoff, a pickleball tournament, and Lentil Land, just for the kids. August

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West Virginia: West Virginia Bigfoot Festival

Get ready for some hairy fun as the West Virginia Bigfoot Festival stomps back into Sutton with vendors, live tunes, interesting speakers, and even a bigfoot calling contest. July

Wisconsin: National Mustard Day 

Hosted by the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, National Mustard Day features mustard sampling, live music, games, prizes, and mustard-covered food, including hot dogs, brats, and even ... mustard-covered ice cream. Can you do it? August

Wyoming: Gold Rush Days 

Vintage baseball, gold panning, mining demos, and a stagecoach are just some of the activities for families to enjoy at this event in South Pass, which includes 17 restored original structures from a mining town turned ghost town. July 

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