Episode 68 – Weird Festivals in Florida

People at concert

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What’s up this week?

This week, we will take you all over Florida to the weirdest festivals in Florida. Florida has some incredible festivals all year round. But we also have some funny, unique, and just plain weird ones.

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 Fiddler Crab Festival  in Steinhatchee happens on President’s Day weekend. The 2023 dates for the Fiddler Crab Festival are February 17-19. Fiddler crabs are little guys with one giant claw – and they walk sideways. Experience fiddler crab races. The festival supplies the crabs – or you may bring your own – and they are raced along metal troughs, ten at a time, to see which one finishes first. The contest is open to adults and kids … pretty much anyone who wants in on the fun. They also have Swampwater chili Cookoff

Aerial view of Ono Island, Alabama and perdido beach, Florida
Photo by Aranxa Esteve on Unsplash

Flora-Bama Interstate Mullet Toss. If you listen to nothing else in this episode, listen to this! What is a mullet?  You thought it was a really bad haircut. A mullet is one of the more popular and plentiful fish indigenous to this area. It is the only fish with a gizzard and is said to possess mystical properties. Known as baitfish on the east coast and a local delicacy here. What Is A Mullet Toss?  A Mullet Toss consists of individuals on the beach throwing a mullet, from a 10-foot circle in Florida across the state line into Alabama. Why Toss A Mullet? A contribution for each fish flung will go to Local Youth Charities, including local school education and prevention program from the Community Drug & Alcohol Council, Inc. (CDAC) which offers programs, community support and collaboration to address drug and alcohol abuse, tobacco, mental health issues and violence both in the home and on our streets.  Each year, they have raised and contributed over $40,000 to local charities, especially youth organizations on both sides of the state line.

Possum Fest in Wausau, Florida No dates for 2022 yet, but last year it was August 7, 2021. They have a Possum King & Queen contest, Miss Funday Pageant, Possom Parade, Hog Callin’, rooster Crowin’ and Cow Lowin’ contests. “the characteristic sound uttered by cattle; a moo”

Hemingway Days in Key West celebrates the literary success and lifestyle of Ernest Hemingway, one of America’s most famous writers. Every year, to honor Hemingway’s birthday, Key West comes to life with lively literary events. During Hemingway Days, locals, visitors, and fans celebrate Hemingway with a look-a-like contest, poetry readings, and a three-day marlin tournament. 

Great American Cooter Festival Inverness is a Florida festival that was dreamt up to honor the noble river cooter. You may also know these freshwater turtles as Yellow Bellied Sliders and have seen them basking on many a fallen tree in a Florida river. The GACF brings 3 days of live music, food trucks, and carnival rides to this small town in north-central Florida and attracts over 10,000 people every year. There’s also the Cooterween Halloween Party, the Cooter Scavenger Hunt, and of course the Cooter Races. Every hour live cooter races are held where onlookers are welcome to watch and root for the “fastest” turtle across the finish line. You won’t want to miss the water skiing cooter.

Young women at a music festival
Photo by Aranxa Esteve on Unsplash

King Mango Strut is the silly and rather strange parade was conceived in 1982 by two Coconut Grove residents, Glenn Terry and the late Bill Dobson, after being denied entry to the Orange Bowl Parade. The reason for the snub? “Unsuitable instruments” such as kazoos, conch shells, and garbage can drums. Terry, Dobson and their satirical band of Grovites, the Mango Marching Band, decided to create their own parade in their neighborhood, and the King Mango Strut was born. The parade was an instant hit in the bohemian Coconut Grove community, with locals constantly pushing the boundaries of good taste with hilariously irreverent costumes and signs, many of whom choose to use local and state politicians as the butt of their jokes. The King Mango Strut isn’t entirely in jest though, there are serious titles handed out and every year the parade features a float packed with young boys and girls, all carrying the titles of Little Miss Mango and Little King Mango. (Likely a mature audiences event)

Fantasy Fest takes place in late October, is a 10-day extravaganza of costume competitions, masquerade balls, and street fairs that climax in a grand parade through Key West. The big celebration, which is something of a cross between Rio’s Carnivale and a Halloween party, is the kind of event where the bystanders are as interesting as the participants. Many of the 60,000 or so Fantasy Fest revelers are typically covered in body paint – and often little else – as they cheer on the caravan of costume characters and floats. (Warning: Despite efforts by townsfolk to tone down the parade, Fantasy Fest is something reserved for, er, more mature audiences.)

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