Feature Article - January 2006
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Festival Fundamentals

Six habits of highly effective special events

By Stacy St. Clair



Isn't That Special

Some of the best festivals and other special events celebrate a town's quirkiness or its claims to fame. Think your community doesn't have any thing special to fęte? Consider the things to which these towns pay homage:

INTERNATIONAL TOMATO FESTIVAL (YURBA CITY, CALIF.)
The event honors the city's long association with the fruit that eats like a vegetable. In addition to the standard carnival rides and music, this year's festival featured an Iron Chef-style cooking contest and a salsa-making competition. www.tomatofestival.net

COLE PORTER FEST (PERU, IND.)
The legendary songwriter's hometown gets a kick out its most famous son with a high-spirited annual festival. The event includes an art show, garage band competition, a classic car show and, naturally, plenty of Porter's music. www.coleportersummerfest.org

GRAND SALINE SALT FESTIVAL (GRAND SALINE, TEXAS)
The NaCl capital of Texas celebrates its salt-mining tradition with an event that features a greased-pig competition, street dance and rodeo. Plenty of breakfasts and lunches sponsored by local businesses—but, remember, no complaining that the food tastes salty. www.grandsaline.com/chamber/salt.html

POPCORN FESTIVAL (MARION, OHIO)
Organizers take great pride in saying their festival has been popping since 1981. The three-day celebration honors Marion's role as the nation's biggest producer of raw popcorn. www.popcornfestival.com

SASSY VINTAGE BASE BALL FESTIVAL (STUHR, NEB.)
Each summer the city hosts a baseball tournament in which participants play the game the way the prairie town's settlers did. Among the rules employed: Hurlers pitch underhand, female participants wear dresses, and no one uses a mitt. www.stuhrmuseum.org/baseball.htm