World Championship Punkin Chunkin
World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association

World Championship Punkin Chunkin
(Nov. 1-3, 2013)
The weekend after Halloween, competitors launch leftover pumpkins from giant compressed-air cannons, catapults and treb­uchets that send the gourds hurtling thousands of feet through the air. The annual event, which is held in Bridgeville, Del., lasts three days and attracts crowds of more than 20,000 people. It began in 1986, when four Delaware men were inspired by a news story about physics students throwing pumpkins at nearby Salisbury University. They decided to compete to see who could hurl a pumpkin the longest distance. The winner used a catapult to launch his pumpkin 126 feet. In 2008, a team at the World Championship set the world record, flinging a pumpkin 4,483 feet. I loved the incredible engineering. Debbie loved the abundant pumpkin pie. www.punkinchunkin.com
WEIRDNESS FACTOR:  ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

The Roadkill Cook-Off
(Sept. 27, 2014)
In Marlinton, W.Va., we sampled such backcountry dishes as squirrel gravy over biscuits, teriyaki-marinated bear, deer sausage and porcupine stew. Begun in 1991, the annual Roadkill Cook-Off awards a $1,000 top prize, attracts more than 10,000 people and is host to the Little Miss Roadkill pageant (“Every girl’s dream,” says our daughter, Julia). The official cook-off rules specify, “All entries must have, as their main ingredient, any animal commonly found dead on the side of the road,” although the judges urge contestants to refrain from procuring critters from the highway. With entries (and entrées) bearing names like Pothole Possum Stew, Fricasseed Wabbit Gumbo and Smeared Hog with Groundhog Gravy, it’s no surprise the official rules declare, “All judges have been tested for cast-iron stomachs and have sworn ­under oath to have no vegetarian tendencies.” www.pccocwv.com/roadkill_cookoff_and_festival.html
WEIRDNESS FACTOR:  ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

Outhouse Races
(Jan. 18, 2014)
We were flush with excitement as teams of three, dressed in outlandish costumes, pushed decorated outhouses mounted on skis down snow-covered Main Street in Conconully, Wash. One team member sits inside the outhouse wearing a helmet while two others plunge the outhouse along the 100-yard track as spectators cheer. Launched in 1984, the annual January event is the longest-running outhouse race in the United States. The “head-to-head” races culminate with the Bucket Race (with pushers wearing five-gallon plastic buckets over their heads while the rider directs them). www.conconully.com/outhouse-races
WEIRDNESS FACTOR:  ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

Rubber Duck Regatta
(Aug. 31, 2014)
At precisely 3 p.m. on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend in Cincinnati, two massive cranes tilt a cargo container over the Purple People Bridge and drop more than 100,000 rubber ducks into the Ohio River for a ­quarter-mile race. Founded in 1995, the annual Rubber Duck Regatta, the largest and longest-running rubber-duck race in the nation, has raised more than $5.5 million for The Freestore Foodbank, a charitable group that distributes food through pantries and soup kitchens. The group sells the rubber ducks for $5 each (or $25 for six). The owner of the first duck to cross the finish line wins a new car and possibly $1 million if the numbered rubber duck is the pre­selected “million-­dollar duck.” The downside? I couldn’t get the Sesame Street song “Rubber Duckie” out of my head for weeks.
WEIRDNESS FACTOR:  ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

Superman Celebration
(June 12-15, 2014)
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Superman (currently set by 867 people during the July 2013 Kendall Calling festival in ­Cumbria, U.K.). Every June since 1979, the small town of Metropolis, Ill., welcomes thousands of Superman fans to celebrate the Man of Steel with four days of “truth, justice and the American way.” You can have your picture taken next to the 15-foot-tall bronze statue of Superman standing in Superman Square, visit The Super Museum (housing the largest collection of Superman memorabilia outside the Fortress of Solitude), enjoy outdoor screenings of Superman cartoons (our kids loved that) and be officially sworn in by the mayor as “Honorary Citizens of Metropolis” — provided you leave your kryptonite at home. www.supermancelebration.net
WEIRDNESS FACTOR:  ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ 



JOEY GREEN is a former contributing editor for National Lampoon and the author of The Ultimate Mad Scientist Handbook, Contrary to Popular Belief and Dumb History