Labor Day weekend is fast approaching, and for many, it heralds some of the best concert fests of the summer—like the Bumbershoot festival in Seattle or the Jazz Aspen Snowmass concert in Colorado. But don’t let the large, famous celebrations overshadow some of the more quirky festivals that will take place across the country this Labor Day:
Kansas City Irish Fest, Kansas City, Missouri. Who knew that Kansas City was home to one of the country’s biggest Irish celebrations? Irish and non-Irish alike are invited to participate in musical jam sessions, watch Celtic rock performances and traditional dance competitions, and even attend an outdoor mass.
The Irvington Stomp, Irvington, Virginia. The White Fences Vineyard hosts this event, touted as "small town America at its best." Participants can stomp all the grapes they want, and watch the stomping contest between town officials and residents as they vie for the title "King and Queen of the Stomp." An outdoor concert and kite show with a make-your-own-kite workshop will also be featured.
Marshall County Blueberry Festival, Plymouth, Indiana. Last time I checked, Indiana was known more for its race cars than its blueberries. But the Blueberry Festival boasts “the very best in blueberry delights” (think pie, doughnuts, ice-cream...), along with a fun run, baking contest, and a mascot named Blueberry Hank. And what berry-themed fair would be complete without a pie-eating contest? Though I am left to wonder what the “Blueberry Cheerleading Event” might entail…
Hard Crab Derby and Fair, Crisfield, Maryland. Ah, something closer to home. This festival, held on the Eastern Shore in the small crabbing town of Crisfield, offers crab cakes, crab crafts, crab games, and even crab hats. My favorites are the crab picking contest, the crab derby—in which the race participants are actual crabs—and the beauty pageant that ends with the crowning of Miss Crustacean.
New York State Festival of Balloons, Dansville, New York. Hot air balloons, to be exact, with six balloon ride launches scheduled. Other events include concerts, an international food court, an arts and crafts show, and a roving clown named Rosco.
Albuquerque/Denver Tango Festival, Albequerque, New Mexico. The Denver Tango Festival has been shuttled to Albuquerque this year as hotels fill up for the Democratic National Convention. But that doesn’t make the tango any less vibrant; this celebration attracts some of the country’s best dancers, with classes and workshops offered and evening dances scheduled. But be warned: The high caliber of dancers the event attracts means these lessons are not for beginners.
Photo: New York State Festival of Balloons website.