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Photo courtesy of Rodney Wood

The 6 Kooky Small-Town Festivals You Should Pencil in This Summer

If you're all Velorama/Telluride Bluegrass/Cherry Creek Arts festival-ed out, try one of these lesser-known, super weird—and wonderful—gatherings instead.

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Mike the Headless Chicken Festival | June 1–2, Fruita
For the past 20 years, Fruita has celebrated the courage of Mike, a rooster who survived for 18 months without his noggin. The locals honor his impressive will to live with a 5K starring a mascot in a headless chicken costume (if weather permits), chicken wing and Peeps eating contests, and a poultry show—basically a dog show, but with chickens.

Madam Lou Bunch Day | June 16, Central City
When a tuberculosis epidemic broke out during the late 1800s, Central City’s most famous madam began servicing miners in a different way, turning her house of ill repute into a makeshift hospital. Now she’s honored each year by “madams” and “miners,” decked out in their 19th-century best (read: corsets and nightshirts), who race brass beds down Main Street.

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Telluride Nothing Festival | Unannounced summer weekend
This nonfestival was born when disgruntled locals grew fed up with Telluride’s crowded summer festivals and decided to toast everyday things, such as gravity continuing to be in effect. Happen upon the tiny mountain town on the right weekend and you just might catch the only real event: the Nothing Parade, during which residents bike, run, and skateboard down the town’s main street, wearing—you guessed it—absolutely nothing.

Burro Days Outhouse Race | July 27–29, Fairplay
Heard of the coffin races at Nederland’s Frozen Dead Guy Days? This wacky race is similar, except competitors wheel outhouses they’ve built themselves down a small-town street. While the designs are as varied as the participants, one element remains the same: The outhouses must each contain a toilet seat, a roll of toilet paper, and one team member wearing a helmet to compete for the coveted golden toilet seat.

Yeti Fest | July 21, Gould
This Sasquatch salute was forged from a suspicious biped sighting and serves as a fundraiser for the North Park Community Foundation. The kooky festival features Bigfoot-themed events such as a raffle (grand prize: a Yeti cooler) and a fun run sponsored by Lafayette run club the Lafayetis. Plus, the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization will present casts of abnormally large footprints to convert any nonbelievers.

ArtoCade | September 7–8, Trinidad
The outrageous yet fully drivable contraptions at this parade make the roadsters of Pimp My Ride look like kindergarten craft projects. “Cartists” from across the country bring their tricked-out wheels to this massive event: Last year, ArtoCade garnered more entries (100-plus) than similar festivals in San Francisco and Seattle combined. Some recent favorites: a giant Radio Flyer wagon and a dragon-themed car that breathed actual fire.

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