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8 Cool and Quirky Festivals on the West Coast
February 25, 2020
Coachella—been there. Comic-Con—done that. Seafood and Wine Festivals—they’re a dime a dozen. There are certain festivals that people know and love, but honestly? There are so many more festivals along the West Coast that are way cooler and way quirkier than the big guys. Plan a road trip along the I-5 corridor and stop at some of these bizarre but fun festivals in California, Oregon, and Washington.
Chula Vista Lemon Festival in Chula Vista
Chula Vista, just south of San Diego, is known as the “Lemon Capital of the World,” so it’s only natural that they would have a festival to celebrate the sour citrus. Visitors can watch contests like lemon peeling, pie eating, and sour tasting then relax in the beer garden while throwing back a couple of local craft beers. The event occurs during the first week of August. Keep an eye on the website for details.Photo credit: Third Avenue Village Association / Facebook
Avocado and Margarita Street Festival in Morro Bay
Avocados and margaritas? Yes, please! This fun festival celebrates two of the best things to ever exist combined with live music, art, and dancing—all taking place on the gorgeous waterfront of Morro Bay. As if this early-September festival couldn’t get any better, they have a contest in which the grand prize is a year’s supply of avocados. Expect delicious food incorporating avocado and hand-crafted margaritas that are to die for. Check their website for details
California Pine Cone Festival in Running Springs
Pine cones! They’re everywhere in the California forests, so why not make a festival for them? The California Pine Cone Festival takes place the first week of October in Running Springs, between San Bernadino and Big Bear. Although it’s meant more for families with innocent contests like ‘Biggest Pinecone’ and pinecone crafts, it’s still worth a visit. You can learn a little bit about the California forest and eat some good tacos after perusing the homemade craft stands. Not too shabby. Plus? It’s free. Learn more about the Pine Cone Festival on their website.
Pasadena Doo Dah Parade in Pasadena
Once a year, thousands of people flock to Pasadena for one of the quirkiest and flamboyant parades to exist—the Doo Dah Parade. With no themes and no rules, dozens of entrants go frolicking down the streets of Pasadena in zany costumes, floats, and decorated cars. The November event is totally free and there are tons of after-parties that take place in bars and restaurants around town. Get more info on this year’s parade here.
Oregon Country Fair in Veneta
Now, you might be thinking—what’s so special about a fair? Well, the Oregon Country Fair is most definitely not your average fair with carnival rides and ring toss games. Taking place just outside of Eugene in the small town of Veneta, the three-day festival is a hippie-culture on steroids. Expect art, entertainment, food, parades, and lots of semi-naked people. It’s tradition for many people to paint their bodies in lieu of clothing or wear costume pieces like foxtails to cover their bums. You have to see it to believe it. Get the details about this summer festival here.
Portland Adult Soapbox Derby in Portland
Held the third Saturday of every August, thousands of people gather at Mt. Tabor in Portland to watch brave souls race down the mountain in homemade soapbox cars at the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby. Powered only by gravity and courage, spectators watch as they fly down the course in crazy costumes and elaborately decorated coaster cars. And since Portland loves their beer, you can be sure there are craft beer stands all along the course for you to quench your thirst. Get more information here.
UFO Festival in McMinnville
Move over Roswell, McMinnville is rapidly rising as the ‘alien capital of the U.S.’ thanks to its annual UFO Festival that takes place every May. UFO enthusiasts and paranormal believers gather at this quirky four-day festival every year to talk all things aliens, dress up in costumes, watch live music, and drink beer in the beer garden. And for the extreme alien-lover, there are guest speakers to give talks on alien abductions, implant removal, and crop circles. Their website has all the information you’ll need.
Viking Fest in Poulsbo
Celebrate your Viking heritage or at least pretend to be one for three days in May at the Viking Fest in Poulsbo. Attendees can people-watch as revelers dress up in their finest Viking wear. Be sure to catch the donut eating contest and lutefisk eating contest before watching the insanely impressive Strong Man Competition. Plus, the adorable Norweigan town of Poulsbo is really charming and fun to explore. Get more information here.
Pig Out in the Park in Spokane
Six days of food, music, and beer—so, pretty much heaven. That’s what Pig Out in the Park in Spokane is all about. The food and music festival features 57 food booths with over 245 menu items, 85 concerts on four stages, and four adult beverage gardens. Can this dreamy festival get any better? It sure can! Why? Because it’s free! There really isn’t a better way to spend Labor Day. Get information on vendors and live music here.
Written by Ashley Brewer for Knockaround.