Regional and city festivals celebrate ostriches, grits, Colonial history, jazz, cow chips and more things that make the United States great.

Chandler Ostrich Festival -- Chandler, AZ, March 9-11, 2007

Ostrich ranching is big in Chandler, Arizona and for 19 years, the people of this town have welcomed the world to Tumbleweed Park (over 300,000 annually) to celebrate with a weekend of competing avian rituals including both eating and racing these giant birds. Races take place three times a day with "jockeys" jumping on board for the ride of their lives. Although the ostriches themselves are the main draw, other activities include music, a carnival, a dog show, appearances by other exotic animals, arts and crafts, a parade, entertainment and food stalls. An all-day pass including the carnival costs $17 in advance or $25 at the gate. General admission tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for seniors or $5 for children 6 to 12. See the festival website for more details.

Atlantique City Spring Festival -- Atlantic City, NJ, March 24-25, 2007 Get the cash and credit cards ready and head to what is considered the largest indoor art, antique and collectibles show in the world. The Atlantic City Convention Center is hope to this massive display of goods from exhibitors across the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. There's a little something for everyone with 10 acres jam-packed with 18th, 19th and early 20th century period antiques including furniture, metalwork, glassware, ceramics, art, jewelry, toys, autographs, Americana and collectibles. So if you've ever wanted to experience Antiques Roadshow, this is the next best thing. Bring you own treasures for expert celebrity appraisal or just browse dealers' wares. In case your eyes (and wallet) are bigger than your suitcase or the trunk of your car, the show offers free shipping within a 200 mile radius. Tickets bought in advance online cost between $25 for two days and $15 for one day. Tickets bought on-site are $30 for two days' admission and $20 for a single day. Children under 12 are admitted free. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes -- this fair is huge. See for more information and to purchase tickets.

World Grits Festival -- St. George, SC, April 13-15, 2007 If you thought Spamarama was bad, get ready for a festival that celebrates the ingestion (or should I say indigestion) of one of the South's beloved side dishes -- grits. I've never quite understood what Grits was (although I believe it is mashed corn kernels) and despite tasting it several times, I'm still not sure. Now in its 22nd year, the festival was conceived by a Piggly Wiggly Supermarket store manager who determined that St. George was the grits eating capital of the country. As you can imagine, the festival centers around grits eating contests, but also includes supplementary corn-themed events like the messy "Rolling in the Grits" competition, corn shelling, the crowning of Miss Grits and corn tossing. Two outdoor stages are set up in the town with local bands playing each night. For more information and grits data visit the official festival website at

World Cow Chip Throwing Championships -- Beaver, OK, April 21, 2007

I never fail to be amused by some of the more obscure displays of U.S. culture and oddity expressed through its bizarre events and this one ranks pretty high on the list of all time strange ones. Your first question may be what is a cow chip? Well there is no pretty way to say that a chip is actually a piece of dried dung that is at least six inches in diameter. This unique event has been taking place annually since 1970, with contestants from all over the country attempting to break a record for hurling the rather smelly frisbees that was set almost 30 years ago when one of these things was thrown some 182 feet. Throwing styles vary from an underhand softball approach to a more traditional discus toss. Historically, cow chips in this area were used as an alternate fuel source for fires. Apart from the actual throwing events, Beaver celebrates with an entire week leading up to the big day including arts and crafts shows, chili cook-offs and stock car racing. For more information about previous championships (no 2007 event information is available as yet) visit the official excrement website at

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans, LA, April 27-29 and May 4-6, 2007 The spirit, soul and passion that is New Orleans comes alive each spring to the sounds of international music and celebrations. Held over two consecutive weekends, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is more than music, concerts and performances -- it is a showcase of authentic New Orleans culture, cuisine and the arts at the Fair Grounds Race Course and other venues around the city. Despite its Jazz title and heritage, you name the musical genre and it is represented -- Jazz, Gospel, Blues, Cajun, Afro-Caribbean, Latin, Rock, Country, Bluegrass and Rap. 2007 promises yet another full program including local son Harry Connick, Jr., Norah Jones, Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Counting Crows, Ludacris, Steely Dan, John Legend, Rod Stewart, Brad Paisley, Van Morrison, Jill Scott, Irma Thomas and ZZ Top. Tickets are available from the festival website at with single day tickets costing $35 in advance or $45 after April 26 for the first weekend and after May 4 for the second weekend. Children's (ages 2-11) tickets are a flat $5 each. Or enjoy Jazz Fest 2007 in VIP style with a Big Chief Pass for $600 that includes daily admission to the Heritage Fair, entry and re-entry each day, access to VIP viewing stands, private viewing areas at three major Jazz Fest stages and a private VIP hospitality lounge. Big Chief VIP tickets are available online at or by calling tel. 800/488-5252.

America's 400th Anniversary Weekend -- Jamestown, VA, May 11-13, 2007

It's not too often that you get to attend a 400th birthday party. May 11-13 marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of America's first permanent English settlement at. The events on this weekend take place at Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement and nearby Anniversary Park, and include performances by the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, a contemporary music concert, a 1,607-member chorale and 400-piece orchestra made up of musicians and singers from around the nation, Journey of Destiny -- an original production using the words of John Smith and a spectacular fireworks salute. Tickets provide admission to Jamestown Settlement, Historic Jamestowne and Anniversary Park, satellite parking and bus transportation to and from each site. On site, there will be cultural presentations featuring Native American, European and African works; guided tours and presentations by interpreters; children's theater productions; and demonstrations including military drills, cannon firings and dramatic readings of period materials. Wht weekend will also include special evening productions and entry to the following: Jamestown Settlement's "World of 1607" exhibit, "The Crafting of America" (a special artisans' village where blacksmithing, pottery making, glass blowing and other crafts will be performed), and Anniversary Village, which highlights information about destinations and history throughout Virginia and Jamestown Settlement's new 30,000-square-foot galleries. Tickets are available for $30 for adults and $15 for children 6-12 years of age through Colonial Williamsburg (tel. 866/400-1607; For more information visit the website

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