Quirky Fests Old and New

A proudly foolish pigdude marches in the Occidental Fool's Day Parade 4/1/12 Photo by Heather Granahan

All the fooling has calmed for another year; this last weekend’s Fool’s Day Parade in Occidental, CA was a hooting success. The Lunapillar floated by and fools from babes to certified geezers pranced and drummed and honked their way to the all-day street party.

Lest any newly arrived Quirks mistakenly believe that this whacky of a festival is a recent phenom here in Quirkutopia, be assured – we walk in the glittering shoes of many the festing Quirk before us.

An Ariolimax columbianus in top racing form.

Do not forget the Banana Slug Festival that ran in the 80’s, complete with slug races, slug Queen and the “Super Slug” contest for pure weight – the winner was paraded on a velvet cushion, sporting a crown and cape. The “Russian River Cockroach” is far from endangered and endured the inevitable slug cooking contest, juried by anyone running for political office.

The Humming Toadfish Festival sweeps the country - er, County; circa 1988

The Humming Toadfish Festival in Marin County, CA was born in the 80’s as well, when the houseboat-dwelling hippies of Sausalito were driven from sleep by the amorous croonings of the homely Porichthys notatu, aka Plainfin Midshipman, which also sports 4 lights on his belly to signal danger and loving intentions. Rather than take extreme measures against the annoying fish songs, the Festival was born, replete with costumes and marching kazoo players.

Oh-so-juicy poison oak, awaiting your "unguided tour" of the woods...

Yet another gala that saw its peak in the late 80’s was the Poison Oak Festival here along the Russian River, complete with an itchy queen and “guideless tours of select patches of poison oak.” It would attract five times the population of Forestville, CA, the tiny town it was held in.

The contraptions ready for a heat at the Great Handcar Regatta, Santa Rosa, CA. Photo by Andrea Granahan

The last few years saw the explosion of the steampunk fest The Great Handcar Regatta, which features contraptions racing along a stretch of rail down at the old train station in Santa Rosa, CA, many performing and attending revelers costumed in Jules-Verne-meets-Burning-Man-burlesque. This has outgrown its own knickerbockers and is now morphing into a new fest called Dr. Erasmus P. Kitty’s Kinetic Frenetic Opera of Mechanical Mayhem. It has also spawned the nearby steampunk Rivertown Revival festival in Petaluma, CA. Keep your ears peeled!

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One response to “Quirky Fests Old and New

  1. how about the infamous May Day celebrations that used to be in Monte Rio in back of what used to be “the Knotty Room” before it burnt down , there was some good times had ,back in the “good ol’ days”

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