Each American state carries a personality all its own, a set of characteristics that sets it apart from every other member of the union. As with any personality, there are oddities and quirks that come along with it, which may explain some of the weirdest state traditions. Every state boasts at least one custom or practice people from other states simply shake their heads at in confusion and wonder. Bizarre state laws and outrageous food laws ensure a state's peculiarities get official notice, but strange state traditions ensure said peculiarities are celebrated.
In most cases, the tradition in question connects to the state in some way. In others, finding a link between the custom and the state is much more difficult. Nevertheless, residents come together to take part in these unusual festivities and celebrate the quirkiness that makes their state unique. In this day and age of divisiveness and division, communities gathering together is a good thing indeed - even if the reasons for such gatherings are a little odd.
New York – The Keg Tree
In Rochester, the Genessee Brewery assembles a huge tree made of beer kegs every holiday season. Each year, the tree grows taller and wider, with its 2016 total ringing in at 26 feet high.
Alaska – Blanket Tossing
In Alaska, several communities take part in something called blanket tossing, which is based on an age-old practice by the Iñupiaq. Basically, someone stands in the middle of a blanket (traditionally a hide) and others grab an edge of the blanket before tossing the person high into the air. Sometimes, the soaring person chucks gifts to an assembled crowd while fighting to keep their balance.
Nevada – Las Vegas Lucky Duck Family Festival
Las Vegas may have all manner of adult entertainment, but the state's most unusual tradition is family-friendly, heartwarming, and a force for good. The Las Vegas Lucky Duck Festival happens each September, and competitors buy rubber ducks and put them in the Towne Square pond for a race; winning duckies bring in prizes, and all money goes to charity.
Hawaii – Waikiki Spam Jam
You might think that Spam is a uniquely Midwestern delicacy, but Hawaiians love their Spam in a way that outshines the most ardent Minnesotan. Case in point: the annual Waikiki Spam Jam, a food festival that celebrates all things Spam.
Alabama – MoonPie Drop
More than just delicious chocolatey marshmallow cookie treats, MoonPies are part of Alabama's culture. On New Years' Eve, Mobile drops a massive, 600-lb electric MoonPie to ring in the New Year. Think of it as the Mobile version of the Times Square ball-drop.
Pennsylvania – Hillbilly Fever Days
In Beavertown, the peculiarities of the hillbilly are the focus of the annual Hillbilly Fever Days. The family-friendly festivities include games, a petting zoo, hayrides, and much more.
Connecticut – Neon Turkeys
Each year as Thanksgiving draws near, a turkey farm in Guilford paints its flock bright neon colors, and people come from miles around to take a gander. The tradition started in the '70s as a form of entertainment for children.
Virginia – Peanuts In Coca-Cola
Generations of Southerners have enjoyed putting peanuts in their Coca-Cola, and though it's hard to say where the tradition started, Virginians seems to have special love for this unusual treat. You just pop open a bottle of Coke, pour in peanuts, and sip/crunch away.
Maryland – National Hard Crab Derby
Held over Labor Day Weekend, this Crisfield celebration honors all things blue crab. Crab-themed cooking, artwork, parades, and rides are on the menu. The highlight is the crab derby, in which people race their crabs along a specially made track to victory.
Indiana – The Greening Of The Canal
St. Patrick's Day is apparently a big event for many Hoosiers. Each year in Indianapolis, the state lottery sponsors an event in which folks gather to see the city's canal dyed green.
Rhode Island – The Big Blue Bug
Providence is home to the Big Blue Bug, the mascot for a pest control company. The massive bug statue is plainly visible near the I-95 interchange. Every year, locals anticipate how the bug will be dressed up for seasons and holidays, such as sporting reindeer antlers at Christmas or a glass of lemonade during the summer.
New Jersey – Pirate Voyages
Take to the high seas... in New Jersey? It's true: Pirate Voyages in Ocean City aims to give visitors an authentic swashbuckling adventure aboard their impressive replica pirate ship, the Sea Dragon.
Minnesota – Lutefisk
Lutefisk can be enjoyed any time of the year, but those who live in Minnesota most often prepare it at Christmas. For most people, once a year is quite enough for this Norwegian fish dish, which consists of cod soaked in lye for days and often served with melted butter.
Louisiana – Christmas Turducken
North Dakota – Redneck Relay Race
Every summer, the North Dakota State Fair holds the annual Redneck Relay Race, where the events are exactly what you expect. Teams compete in a variety of stereotypically redneck events, such as a greased watermelon race and a moonshine spit.
Idaho – New Year's Eve Potato Drop
Boise pays homage to its most famous export every New Year's Eve. New York City may have the ball, Boise is the only city to drop a giant potato from the sky.
Michigan – National Cereal Festival
South Carolina – God's Acre Healing Springs
People come from all over South Carolina to visit God's Acre Healing Springs, located deep in the woods near Blackville. Legend says Native Americans urged dying British soldiers to drink from the well, and they were miraculously cured. The land was officially "deeded to God" in 1944.
Arkansas – The Hog Drop
Every New Year's Eve, the folks of Fayetteville usher in the New Year by watching a huge pig drop into the town square. There's also live music, fireworks, and an after-party.