Do in Small Towns
of us are already planning summer vacations to exotic, foreign places,
but the smart money will go with small towns in the U.S. They not
only afford more fun, but help our economy. Always eager to be of
service to my country, I offer the following generous selection of
stuff to do in American small towns.
The folks of Victor, Colorado, which calls itself "One of those places
that time likes to forget," have an annual pothole update and all
are invited to join in the count. Tourists are welcome.
Pioche, Nevada, snorts at claims by both Tombstone,
Arizona, and Dodge
City, Kansas that they were the baddest of the wild west mining
camps. Mind you, Pioche was "so tough we imported 20 hired killers
each day" and "75 men were killed in gun fights and already buried
in the cemetery long before anyone died of natural causes." The town
was said to be peaceful only "if you stayed out of the way of the
Rose, Texas, proudly referred to as the Whiskey Woods Capital
of Texas, is the only American town where you can get a Dinosaur Hunting
Erick, Oklahoma, is raising
money for a Roger Miller Museum.
It's not up and running yet, but you can visit Glenda in the bank
and talk about it, or visit one of the ladies sewing his likeness
into the first-prize quilt to be raffled off this summer.
Earlville, Illinois, claims to be the source of "The World's Best
Dirt," though it's most eagerly anticipated event is the annual Find-A-Pig
Contest held at The Crazy Horse Saloon.
Morehead City, North Carolina, hosts a Bald Men's Convention each
September, which generously offers self-help sessions for the wives.
The convention's motto is: "If you haven't got it, flaunt it."
Booger Hollow, Arkansas, Population 7 ("countin' one coon dog"), boasts
the only two-story outhouse in the land. You can get a Boogerburger
at the Trading Post.
Livingston, Montana, has a Duck Derby, where rubber ducks are released
into the water for a two-furlong (1/4 mile) race, with a grudge match
to be held in the event of a tie. Face off will take place at the
Montpelier, Vermont, holds an annual Rotten Sneaker Contest, spotlighting
"stinky feet." A search for the "best of the worst" in rotten sneakers,
this Odor-Eaters-sponsored contest was created over two decades ago,
and has become a traditional Rite of Spring in Montpelier.
The teeming metropolis of Park Falls, Wisconsin, is more than just
the Ruffed Grouse Capital of the World. Residents are mighty proud
of the fact that Park Falls is the only town in all of Price County
with two traffic lights.
each year hosts a reenactment of the "Trial of the Century," based
on an 1870's local murder trial. "Diamond
Bessie" Moore, rumored to have once been a high-priced "soiled
dove" out of Arkansas, was traveling with one Mr. A. Rothschild. Suspicians
of foul play were aroused when Mr. Rothschild, who had left on a picnic
with Bessie, returned alone that evening, sporting Bessie's diamond
rings on his fingers. Two weeks later, Bessie's body was discovered
and, it was graciously noted by the ladies of Jefferson, "She was
very well dressed, considering the hole in her forehead." After fleeing
to Cincinnati, Mr. Rothschild was subsequently returned by Ohio authorities
to Jefferson where he unsuccessfully attempted suicide with the same
BB gun he had used on poor dead Bessie.
In Loda Cemetery Prairie in Iroquois County, Illinois, a visitor might
partake of The Hairy-Jointed Meadow Parsnip.
"Chainsaw" Elmer fondly remembers his youth in Sunnymeade, California,
where the local children found a unique way to fight boredom. They
lifted up the eyelids of the bull sleeping in grandpa's pasture, then
ran like hell. Can't really beat that for down home entertainment.
I haven't even told you about the bareback ostrich races, pumpkin-flinging
contests, tombstone tilting races, bayonet-polishing competitions,
and the Byron, Illinois, Annual Turkey Testicle Festival. (All true,
Perhaps you already live in a small town that's not famous for anything,
and you want to attract tourists. You could have a television-watching
contest, or a drywall buckling night, or build a triple-decker outhouse,
thereby outdoing Booger Hollow, AR.
The possibilities are endless.
Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In
May 5, 2004 Column