By Frisco Rosso
Now that the northern hemisphere’s summer is all but at an end, it’s time to reflect on some of the world’s less orthodox and more peculiar events and festivals.
Ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous to the downright retarded, here are some of the spectacles that tend to slip under the media radar, in some cases for obvious reasons.
Anvil Shooting World Championship
The art of stuffing 2lbs of gun powder under a 100lb anvil and blowing it as high into the air as possible seems more Wile E Coyote than something amateur science enthusiasts would be interested in.
However, the temptation of being awarded points for height and close landing area is too great to resist for the explosives fans that flock to the event in Mississippi every year. This year the event took place in April in Bay Springs, to the sound of multiple “dang” and “yeehaw” calls from participants and spectators alike, who presumably love the smell of gunpowder in the morning.
World champion anvil shooter Gay Wilkinson was quoted as saying, “People talk about the joy of sex, but it doesn’t last like the joy of shooting anvils”. Sceptical at all? Then give common sense the cold shoulder and head to the festival to try your hand. Certainly one activity best not tried at home.
Berlin Fetish Ball
If you’d fancied being figuratively and literally tied up for the weekend in June, then the German Fetish weekend would have been right up your alley.
At this annual event, munch fans from all over the world have the chance to meet at an anything but vanilla rendezvous from Friday through to Sunday to mingle, shop ‘til they drop and finally dress to impress for the weekend’s grand finale. Fifty Shades of Grey readers and newbies to the BDSM scene are likely to need their eyeballs surgically retracted from their stalks upon arriving, as this is one festival for über-enthusiasts.
So if this spanks your fancy set your hard limit and get yourself booked in for the next Ball in May 2013. Collar and cuffs matching is seemingly optional.
In Italy, where the passion for football and giving opposition supporters a hiding flows through locals’ veins in equal measure, an annual event takes place that combines the brutal elements of soccer, rugby and bare-knuckle boxing.
The Calcio Storico, usually held in June, has been a Florentine tradition for some 500 years, as the period costumes and perhaps one or two epitaphs in the local cemetery suggest.
Each game consists of two teams of 27 players, a giant sandpit for a pitch with opposing goals running the length of each side, a referee and linesman and a maniacal crowd creaming for blood. After 50 turbulent minutes the winning team is crowned.
Got bloodlust? Then strap on some striped hose and puffed sleeves and head to Florence next year.
Cow Dung Festival
As far as this newly found festival is concerned, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d inadvertently strayed onto the set of Father Ted. Held for the second year in the seaside town of Enniscrone, Ireland, the Cow Dung festival has put an alternative spin on gambling and family entertainment.
A suitable field is divided into squares like a bingo sheet and punters can then buy tickets for squares at €5 a pop or five squares for €20. Once bets are placed, one of the local cows is let loose in the field to drop its bovine bombs – to the delight of the hushed crowd, one presumes. The ticket holder of the befouled square then collects the tidy sum of €200, while the eight squares around it also receive a prize.
Visitors that haven’t exploded with excitement already can then spend time enjoying live music, food, booze, events and games “for young and old”. Although the fabled Tunnel of Goats wasn’t one of the highlights of this year’s festival in August, the mind-blowing presence of the Gerry Guthrie Band more than made up for it I’m sure.
Kanamara Matsuri Festival – Festival of the Steel Phallus
Held each year at the Kanamara Shrine in Kawasaki, Japan, the Kanamara Matsuri Festival celebrates fertility and attracts the following: Japanese couples seeking good luck in the reproductive department, members of the gay and lesbian community, and mesmerised tourists keen on the sight of a giant pink cock bobbing along the street. The event also raises a healthy sum for HIV/AIDS research.
If Wang Laboratories were still on the scene, the sponsorship potential for the festival would have been mind blowing, assuming Dr An Wang wasn’t to side with the Chinese in the ongoing Diaoyu/Senkaku islands dispute.
But this is certainly no festival to be scoffed at. Its origins date back to Japan’s Edo period when Kawasaki’s prostitutes would descend on a local penis-venerating shrine to pray for sexual safety and now serves as a liberal spiritual source for couples seeking marital harmony and eventual ease of delivery.
So if you’re in Kawasaki next during next year’s cherry blossom season, make a beeline for the Kanamara Shrine and discover there’s more to a giant phallus than meets the eye.
Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships
Symbolic of the practice of current Nokia shareholders is the annual Mobile Phone Throwing Championships where mobiletes (yes I made that up) have the option of casting aging handsets long distances in the name of competitive sport.
Originating in Finland in 2000 the competition has been going from strength to strength with unofficial world records being broken in freestyle and original (length) tournaments.
Perhaps members of the prima donna set (such as Russell Brand and Naomi Campbell) could guest star at next year’s competition, and show off their skills in the freestyle category.
This somewhat tongue in cheek festival, held every year in Georgia, attracts hicks, sons of the soil, Daisy May Moses lookalikes and John-Boys to celebrate and compete in all things redneck, while raising money for the Franklin County Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Some of the unique competitions at the festival include bobbing for pigs’ trotters, toilet seat throwing, dumpster driving, the obligatory wet t-shirt competition and the never tedious armpit serenade.
So if you’re sharp as a cue ball or nuttier than a port-a-potty at a peanut festival, then make like a turd and hit the trail for the next Redneck Games in 2013, where you’re guaranteed to have more fun than a tornado in a trailer park.
World’s Largest Machine Gun Shoot
Defining the world’s largest machine gun shoot is a tricky business considering there are approximately 40 countries around the world blasting the living daylights out of one another with the aid of automatic weapons. That said, the odd people at Knob Creek Gun Range in West Point, Kentucky think they have it nailed, at least for a few days a year.
Billed as “Three days of explosive family fun” with the safety strap of “Nothing brings family together like blowing stuff apart… Safely”, it is presumably one of the few festivals where troublesome children and cantankerous grandparents can be pistol-whipped and dispatched at the discretion or responsible parents without fear of reprisal.
So, if you need inspiration before planning to ‘go postal’, or simply want to brush up on how best to blow your neighbour’s brains across his front lawn, then mosey on down to the next gathering, scheduled for October and blast away to your heart’s content.
With more tension than your mother’s suspension, I am Frisco Rosso. I’m likely to deliver a few lines worth at any given moment regarding film, music, sport, books and anything morally unsound that strikes a blow between the eyes in the name of entertainment.