Life

The Best (And Weirdest) Festival In Every State

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best festivals in the us
Uproxx

We love festivals at Uproxx. From music to food to the odd, every so once in awhile, eclipse festival, we’re into them all. Because festivals, no matter the subject of their celebration, can be an incredibly joyful way to experience the culture of a place. And the best annual ones give you a chance to look forward to them every year, plan larger events like campouts, and road trip across America. It’s always great to head to a concert or to a museum exhibit in a new city, but festivals are a unique way to get a multi-layered microcosm experience — there’s food, music, art, and the vibe of a city all packed into one park or street.

With that in mind, we’ve curated a list of some of the best and coolest festivals in each state in the U.S., from Alabama to Wyoming. These, we feel, are festivals that are worth traveling to for the experience. There are the obvious music festivals, but there are also film, food, and sport fests that are completely stellar. In addition to each of these events, we also picked a weird one for each state. Yep, that means UFOs, Bigfoot-like creatures, fire ants, blueberries, and vinegar are all getting celebrated somewhere.

Whether it’s the sun beating down on you while you scream in the front row of the crowd or the wind biting through your ski clothes as you work the slopes before taking in a live band, these are the kinds of experiences that will stay with you and show you a snapshot of a place at its happiest.

ALABAMA — ROCK THE SOUTH

Called the “biggest party in the South,” Rock the South was originally intended to be a one-year celebration of recovery from the tornadoes that ripped across the state in April of 2011. Instead, the festival has grown into a huge celebration of Alabama and Southern Culture. Billboard named it one of the best country music festivals in the United States. Plus, the festival donates a lot of money to the local community, so you get to party and feel good about where your money is going. Since 2012, it has given over $639,000 to a number of community partners.

Date: May 31 – June 1
Cost: General Admission: $89, Platinum: $159, VIP: $329, Ultimate VIP: $629
Visit the website for more.

If you’re looking for something weirder: The Peanut Butter Festival in Brundidge includes the construction of the state’s largest PB&J, a recipe contest, and a 5k Peanut Butter Run.

ALASKA — GIRDWOOD FOREST FAIR

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Founded in 1975 by a group of artists looking to sell their wares, the Forest Fair has been held in the same location since its inception. Crowds have grown steadily each year with people pouring into town from across the state just to attend. And why wouldn’t they? It’s a festival that highlights arts, crafts, and music. There’s even a Forest Fair Parade on Saturday featuring anyone who wants to bring a costume and/or a float. As for the music and performances, there’s a wide variety. Tightrope walkers and fire dancers have been featured, as have bands playing rap, folk, jazz, country, Irish, and more. And the Forest Fair has a few rules: no dogs, no politics, and no religious orders. We can get behind these.

Date: July 5 – July 7
Cost: Free
Visit the website for more.

If you’re looking for something weirder: The Cordova Ice Worm Festival began as a way to break up the long winter and now includes a beard contest, a paper plane competition, and the crowning of Miss Ice Worm.

ARIZONA — PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL

Named one of The 25 Coolest Film Festivals, as well as Top 50 Worth the Entry Fee, by MovieMaker Magazine, the Phoenix Film Festival has proven a consistent hit with film buffs since 2000. Many consider it one of the most filmmaker-friendly fests out there. In the past, the Phoenix Film Festival has included over 300 screenings, filmmaking seminars to audiences as large as 28,000, and some killer parties.

Date: April 4 – 14
Cost: Single Ticket: $15, Golden Ticket: $25, Flex: $45, Super Flex: $120, Festival: $200, VIP: $400, Platinum: $450
Visit the website for more.

If you’re looking for something weirder: The Tucson Fringe Festival is an uncensored performing arts festival where you are sure to find the strange, the unique, and the moving.

ARKANSAS — BACKWOODS MUSIC FESTIVAL

The fine people who run the Backwoods Festival at Mulberry Mountain point to the following philosophy: Good music. Good people. Good times. This is what drives the event. And it’s working for them because this festival has distinguished itself as one of the best places in Middle America to see amazing independent bands and nationally recognized musicians. It makes for a completely unique weekend — especially when you factor in the gorgeous landscape surrounding the venue to camp in. Plus, in addition to seeing various acts, festival goers can also take yoga classes, participate in interactive art installations, and a ton of other activities.

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