- Bald is Beautiful Convention: This bizarre convention takes place annually in September in Morehead City, NC. The Bald is Beautiful Convention is located on Bald Street. You qualify for the convention if you have a haircut with a hole in it, fringe around your head or a forehead that reaches back five inches from the eyebrows; any of these and you can all yourself a proud bald-headed man. The convention is based around ceremonial chants, feel-good clinics and advice on how to care for your bald head. And, of course, there are many contests, prizes and awards given out for titles like Sexiest Bald Head, Most Distinguished Bald Head, as well as a Montel Williams look alike award! All baldies and guests welcome.
Burning Man: Every summer in late August the empty Nevada desert of Black Rock City, which is usually desert, becomes an instant city during the Burning Man event with as many as 24,000 people coming from all over to fill this space for a week long event. Burning Man is made up of miles oo unlabeled art, theatre and creations laid out on the desert floor for all to view and enjoy while no one takes credit for any of the magnificent art displayed. One of the most important aspects of this event is there is no money inside. Tickets at the gate cost $100, but the focus inside the gate is on expression, passion and gifts. Instead of money, participants bring their own food, water and shelter as well as extra to share or trade with others, which encourages others to make things to give away. The idea that the event and all attendees are self-reliant makes this a truly artistic event.</li>
- All American Soap Box Derby: This event, held in August of every year in Akron, Ohio, is known far and wide by young and old in the U.S. Since 1934, this classic sport involves kids of all ages making vehicles, powered by the decline of a hill, racing against others in small towns across the nation. Once qualified in local sanctioned events, participants then move on to the All-American Soap Box Derby. The event attracts more than 15,000 spectators and about 300 racers that compete in three divisions. The Stock division is for first-time builders who create their cars from kits. The Super Stock division is for kids who want to build more advanced models and the Masters division is the advanced class, where participants build crafts that look like mini dragster cars without the motors. The course consists of a 954-foot straightaway with an 11% decline allowing racers to reach over 30mph.
- Bean Fest and the Great Championship Outhouse Race: Come enjoy a full weekend of food and music in October in Mountain View, Arkansas. Here you will find about 30 two-person teams that show up annually to compete in one of the world's only bean cook-offs. All of the equipment and beans are provided by the Mountain View Chamber except the herbs and spices, which must be brought by the teams. While the judges rate each team, the crowd chows down on over 1,000 pounds of beans and loads of cornbread. This is not the only exciting part of this free event, however! There is also an outhouse race where the outhouses are decorated, mounted on wheels and raced through town.
- Hands on a Hard Body Contest: If you're around Longview, Texas in September, check out this outlandish contest! Every year since 1992, 24 contestants are chosen to attempt to outlast the competition by standing under the hot sun with one hand on the body of a brand new Nissan Frontier Truck without leaning. There is a 5-minute break every hour but this contest is brutal enough where physical strength, mental stability, diet and choice of footwear are major factors in winning. During the actual event, many participants warn of blood pressure rising, ankles swelling and hallucinations. The winner, however, wins a brand new truck!
- Milk Carton Derby: Come on down to Seattle, Washington in July during their Sea Fair and participate in the annual Milk Carton Derby! Nearly 100 colorful milk carton boats of all sizes and shapes compete on the waters of Green Lake for $10,000 in prizes. Each boat consists of at least 50 half-gallon milk cartons with the goal to get the boat across 1200 feet of water to the finish line. Each milk carton only supports 4 pounds of weight which means folks start collecting these cartons months in advance. Awards are given out in multiple categories including most impressively designed and decorated craft.
Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest: Hungry for some hot dogs? Come on down to Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York on July 4th to catch the action! Each year crowds come from all over the area to witness eleven regional champs and four international champs compete to see who can eat the most hot dogs and buns in twelve minutes. 2011's champ was 130-pound Japanese victor Hirofumi Nakajima, who downed 24.5 dogs.</li>
- Polar Bear Plunge: Just because it's February, doesn't mean you can't enjoy a nice outdoor swim! Each February, Point Pleasant Beach in NJ offers the Polar Bear Plunge, where 1,200 plungers brave brisk waters and 100,000 spectators watch them do it! The event is held to raise money for Special Olympics New Jersey and each participant must raise at least $100 in order to take the plunge in the 36 degree Atlantic Ocean. Afterward, participants and friends enjoy a "Post Plunge Party" to celebrate their bravery.
- Santacon: Santacon is noted as a "non-denominational, non-commercial, non-political and non-sensical Santa Claus convention that occurs once a year for absolutely no reason." An event held every December in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Santacon is a convention of unusual character. Thousands of participants dress up in holiday costumes and parade around the streets of New York City spreading holiday cheer. The event also holds donation banks at each initial meet-up location to collect canned goods and food for the local area food banks. If you want to spread some holiday cheer, this is the event to attend!
- Vegas Ventriloquist Convention: This convention held every June in Las Vegas, Nevada, is put together for a crew of worldwide ventriloquists ranging from ages 10 to 100. The event is held to teach the public the art of figure manipulation and ventriloquism. Throughout the weekend workshops are held on topics ranging from the basics of comedy writing to making your own figure using light and sound. One of the biggest attractions is the dealers' room, where attendees can purchase joke books, scripts, figures and memorabilia. Amateurs from all over flock to the festival for a chance to get noticed by talent scouts as well. Many non-ventriloquists also come to enjoy the events and excitement. </ol>
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.