We begin playing with our food when we sit in a highchair as a toddler, so with these insane food festivals, we can keep up the shenanigans as adults. Slightly on the crazy side—wearing watermelon boots, mashed potato wrestling, gorging on bugs (yes, creepy crawlies), cheese rolling, pancake races, pig racing, and to top this outlandish list off, a Yorkshire pudding boat race. Of course, food festivals are nothing new, with some having long histories behind the reason for playing with food in such an unhinged way.
Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, Italy
Arguably one of the largest food fights in Italy, the Battle of the Oranges is held annually in the northern town of Ivrea. Groups of locals form nine squads of orange throwing demons at the 'enemies' clad in armor who arrive on carts in the heart of the village. The whole affair dates back to the Middle Ages when the then city's tyrant raped a milliner's daughter on the eve of her wedding. He ended up beheaded, and the oranges are said to symbolize either stones or the tyrant's testicles that were removed. Initially, beans were thrown, then it was apples. Finally, in the 19th Century, it changed to oranges brought from the leftovers of southern Italy's winter season—think 265,000 kg of projectiles to be thrown in wild abandonment.
Herring Festival, Hvide Sande, Denmark
Fried, pickled, filleted, or minced into a fishcake—the Herring Festival held in Hvide Sande, Denmark, will have fanatical fish-eaters scoffing more than their fair quota. This festival celebrates the migration of schools of herring to the protected water of Ringkobing fjord to spawn. There's a fishing competition and workshops for learning how to cook this fatty fish full of omega-3—which is excellent for your health. Plus, a 'pickling' school if you are into dousing your herring in vinegar and water with some allspice, bay leaves, and peppercorns thrown in. Fishermen from all over Scandinavia flock to the small village in April each year. If you aren't into gorging on herring, I would go somewhere else.
Chinchilla Melon Festival, Queensland, Australia
A bi-annual festival in February held in the town famous for being the melon capital of Australia. Chinchilla is where not only watermelons are grown, but honeydew and rockmelons as well. A small rural town west of Dalby, over 20,000 zany people clamor to the area to experience the unique and demented Melon Festival. Hilarious vibes ripple throughout the city as people go skiing with their feet in melons, see how far they can spit a melon pip, join in the crazy chariot race, or have a go at the melon tossing events. In addition, you can take a farm tour, pig out on melons, and get involved in the street parade. There's even a melon ironman challenge for anyone wishing to show off their stamina.
Night of the Radishes, Oaxaca, Mexico
This festival sounds more like a B Grade horror movie such as the 1977 'Attack of the Killer Tomatoes' that had giant tomatoes chasing people down the road. Held every December in Oaxaca in Mexico, you won't have gigantic radishes trying to kill you. What you will get to see—local artists and a few wannabes attempting to create the most stunning carved radish or elaborate scenes made entirely out of carved radishes. It's quite intense, as the radishes have a limited perishable timetable. The festival is rooted in the colonial period of Mexico when Spanish monks introduced radishes. And Mexicans have been carving this root-vegetable into art and sculptures since the 16th Century. No ordinary radishes are whittled, slashed and shaped, as particular varieties are grown purely for carving, not for eating. Quite often, the radishes weigh as much as 3kg and are as long as 50cm. The event became a tradition from the year 1897, courtesy of the mayor at the time.
La Tomatina, Buñol, Italy
And so the story goes that a few teen males wreaked havoc during a street parade in the tiny village of Buñol near Valencia in 1945. Their antics caused a participant of the parade to get seriously mad at them. He proceeded to raid a nearby vegetable stall for missiles to throw at the aggressors. Hence the whole town joined in with the throwing free-for-all. Predominantly, tomatoes were thrown around, as they do make an unforgettable mess when you hit someone. You have to be over 18 years to join into this messy red lark of tomato throwing. And, not worry about becoming a dripping mass of scarlet pulp. The festival begins at midday when trucks arrive loaded up with about 120 tons of over-ripe red tomatoes. You only have one hour of total tomato mayhem. Participants of this loony activity come from all over the world.