On a global scale, it seems our festivals are far too normal. We've waded through the weird and wonderful to bring you a collection of the world's strangest food festivals.
Aussies love a good food festival. We have the prestigious ones that pull in the celeb chefs (Noosa Food & Wine Festival); the drop-dead stunning festivals that show off our natural beauty (Margaret River Gourmet Escape) and the crowd pleasing festivals (Taste Festival in Sydney and Melbourne).
On a global scale however, it seems our festivals are far too normal. Here, Alex Conomos shares 9 of the most bizarre food festivals from around the world.
1. BugFest, North Carolina USA
If you’ve ever wanted to get a taste of entomophagy (the practice of eating bugs), then this is the festival for you. Each year over 35,000 visitors come to BugFest to taste delectable dishes featuring creepy crawlies (chocolate-covered roasted crickets anyone?) and learn more about the world of bugs. Last year’s theme was stink bugs, we can’t wait to find out what this year’s theme is...
2. Cheese-Rolling Festival, Gloucestershire UK
If eating cheese seems a bit ho hum then what about hurtling it down a hill for crazed participants to chase after? This is exactly what happens on an annual basis on Cooper’s Hill. The giant roll of semi-hard, unpasteurised Double Gloucester cheese is the prize for the person who can catch it first.
3. La Tomatina, Buñol Spain
If the idea of a food fight appeals to you, just like in the movies, then this is the festival for you. The usually sleepy town of Buñol goes from a population of 9,000 to well over 40,000 on the last Wednesday in August as people travel from all over the world to hurtle tomatoes at each other and turn the town into one giant tomato soup. BYO goggles and waterproof camera for this one.
4. Testicle Festival, Montana USA
Yes, you read right. And actually there isn’t just the one but there are over a dozen festivals around the world that pay homage to this part of the male anatomy. The biggest and the original takes place in Clinton, Montana and is dedicated to serving deep-fried bull testicles. If that turns you off then don’t worry, you can have them marinated instead! The best part of all is telling your friends you had a ball at the Testicle Festival!
5. Cucumber Festival, Suzdal Russia
In the Russian town of Suzdal, the cucumber is king. Every household makes some part of its living by growing cucumbers, so it was only natural that they would want to honour this vegetable with its own festival. During July, every house is decorated with cucumbers, there are various art performances (all using cucumbers), people wear cucumber masks, and of course there is a cucumber eating competition.
6. Monkey Buffet Festival, Lopburi Thailand
Not technically a festival for the people, this one is all for the monkeys. Held in late November, 4,000 kilos of fruits, vegetables, cakes and sweets are offered up to the 3,000 monkeys in the area for their enjoyment. Humans are invited to dress like monkeys, dance like monkeys, and decorate the streets with money sculptures.
7. Night of the Radishes, Oaxaca City Mexico
This annual event is a competition dedicated to the carving of oversized radishes into human figures and other inventive forms. Farmers in the area have been carving radishes for years and it became an official competition in 1897. Unfortunately it’s a short lived glory; radishes wilt quickly after being cut, so visitors only have a matter of hours to see all the entries.
8. Waikiki Spam Jam, Hawaii, USA
More Spam is consumed per person in Hawaii than in any other state in America. From this loyalty was born a festival, devoted entirely to the iconic canned meat product. Hawaii’s top chefs create new recipes featuring the gelatinous meat product, and guests can sample these along with classic Spam recipes such as Spam burgers and Spam sushi. One lucky couple is even crowned Mr. and Mrs. Spam!
9. Chinchilla Melon Festival, Australia
Okay so we’ve snuck an Aussie festival in here for good luck! Chinchilla is the ‘Melon Capital of Australia’, producing 25 per cent of our nation's crop. They celebrate this achievement every February with a messy melon-strewn street parade, melon skiing, melon bungee, melon iron man and a pip spitting competition. It’s melon mayhem!