Bon Appetit: World's Top 12 Food Festivals To Go Eat And Play

The world is full of strange food, even with stranger festivals to celebrate it.

1. Chinchilla Melon Festival, Australia

Once every two years in February, Chinchilla - the "Melon Capital of Australia" - celebrates the bounty with a messy melon-strewn street parade and "sports" like seed spitting, melon tossing, melon bungee, and skiing with feet embedded in the fruit.

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2. Olney Pancake Race, England

What began more than 500 years ago with one woman's attempt to finish making pancakes has turned into a 415-yard dash in Olney, UK, every year on Shrove Tuesday, with contestants in aprons carrying skillets.

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3. Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling, England

In this annual event each May, a nine-pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down Cooper's Hill in Brockworth, England and then chased by contestants trying to catch it, no small feat as the wheel can reach up to 70 miles per hour.

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4. Barnesville Potato Festival, United States

For two days in August, the small town of Barnesville in Minnesota celebrates the versatile veggie with potato wrestling: contenders compete inside a large wrestling ring filled with gloppy mounds of mashed potatoes.

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5. La Tomatina (Tomato Festival), Spain

What's rumored to have originated as an attack on city council members by disgruntled townspeople in Bunol, Spain, has turned into the world's largest food fight: 20,000 people fling ripe tomatoes at each other in an every-man-for-himself free-for-all for an hour of tomato-tossing carnage.

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6. Giant Omelet Celebration, France

Legend has it that Napoleon enjoyed the omelet he had in Bessieres, France so much that the next morning he ordered every egg in town broken to prepare a giant omelet for his troops. Bessieres carries on the tradition to this day, with a 15,000-egg omelet.

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7. BugFest, North Carolina

Attendees of this festival held by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh dare themselves to eat insect dishes prepared by local chefs - and cheer on bugs at the Roach Race 5000.

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8. Night of the Radishes, Mexico

In this annual carving contest, each December in Oaxaca, Mexico, local artisans carve the veggies into cultural or religious figures, such as the Virgin Mary. Because the radishes are perishable competition to see the best pieces can be intense.

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9. Maine Lobster Festival, Maine

The Maine Lobster Festival, held the first full weekend in August each year in Rockland, Maine, steams up some 20,000 pounds of lobster. Other popular festival events include the sea goddess coronation, a parade and a foot race across lobster crates bobbing in the water.

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10. Battle of the Oranges, Italy

A three-day food fight dating to the Middle Ages, the annual Battle of the Oranges takes place just before Mardi Gras each year in Ivrea, Italy. During the battle, townspeople are divided into nine uniformed squads and throw oranges at attacking enemies who arrive in carts in the center of town.

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11. Gilroy Garlic Festival, California

The centerpiece of the annual late-summer Garlic Festival is Gourmet Alley, featuring an outdoor kitchen with enormous fire where chefs prepare garlicky dishes including garlic fries, garlic bread, and even garlic ice cream.

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12. Candy Festival, Spain

"Fat Tuesday" celebrations kick off in Vilanova i La Geltrú, Spain, where the whole town becomes a sticky mess from the "candy war", with shoes sticking to the pavement after an estimated 80 tons of candy have been thrown during this sweet food fight.

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