Small Towns With The Weirdest Claims To Fame
Big cities may have glitz and glamour, but small town America has cornered the market on being incredibly strange. Small towns with bizarre names and claims to fame stretch across the country, showing off their collections of giant objects and hosting competitions for things you’d never believe people actually want to win. The odd things for which small towns in America are famous are as unique as the towns themselves. While some communities decorate their buildings with painted quilts, others model their entire architecture after that of another country. It’s a weird world out there — and these towns only scratch the surface.
Many of these weird claims to fame began as a way to increase tourism, but over time they became a defining feature of the towns and their residents. Vote up the quirkiest small town claims to fame, then pull out your atlas or your favorite map app and start planning your next road trip.
- Photo: Will OHare / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
Marfa, a town so entrenched in West Texas it's almost Mexico, became an instant art hub in 2005 when artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset installed a replica Prada store along Highway 90. With the help of the Art Production Fund, a group helping to create public art, the store was built with the hope it would slowly fall apart in the middle of the Texas desert.
At the time, Yvonne Force Villareal of the Art Production Fund told the New York Times, "If someone spray-paints graffiti or a cowboy decides to use it as target practice or maybe a mouse or a muskrat makes a home in it, 50 years from now it will be a ruin that is a reflection of the time it was made." However, the duo have had to maintain a semblance of upkeep due to overzealous vandals, and at least one thief.
- 2220 VOTES
Dublin, OH: Cornhenge
Dublin, OH, is a quintessential small town in the Midwest. It has a large Irish population, as well as a major obsession with golf — but that's not what makes the town so interesting. In 1994, sculptor Malcolm Cochran created a field of 109 concrete ears of corn that each stand over six feet tall.
After its construction, locals weren't crazy about what they referred to as "Cornhenge," but it's pretty cool looking and definitely worth a look if you're passing through central Ohio.
- 3210 VOTES
Casey, IL: The Smallest Town With The Largest ObjectsPhoto: J.G. Park (is catching up) / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
There are a lot of spots across the US where you can find a large recreation of an inanimate object, but if you'd like to see eight large, Guinness World Record-holding objects in one place, stop in Casey, IL.
The large objects arrived thanks to local businessman Jim Bolin's desire to increase tourism in the area. In order to bring in more people, he commissioned the construction of objects like the world's largest mailbox, the world's largest pencil, and the world's largest wind chime, which was dedicated to his grandmother. There's also a giant bird cage in which you can take a seat.
- Photo: Justin.A.Wilcox / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
In 1974 in Montpelier, VT, a local businessman wanted to advertise a new set of sneakers he had on sale. So, he set up a contest for the most rotten sneakers in the world at the Montpelier Department of Recreation. What began as a very strange advertising gimmick has turned into a very big deal in the area.
In 1988, Odor-Eaters became a sponsor, and in 2014, Ripley's Believe It Or Not took over the day to day of the contest and moved the whole shebang to New York City. Despite big business getting into the smell game, Montpelier will always be the heart of rotten sneaker country.
- 5157 VOTES
Eau Claire, MI: The Cherry Spitting Capital Of The WorldPhoto: fauxpork / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
Every year on the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire, MI, the International Cherry Pit-Spitting Championship takes place. People come from all over to show off their projectile skills. In 2004 Brian "Young Gun" Krause set a record for spitting a cherry pit more than 93.5 feet during the competition.
The International Cherry Pit-Spitting Championship is an all-day affair that begins at 10 AM, so if you want to go the distance you better make sure your jaw is in shape.
- 6165 VOTES
Riverside, IA: The Future Birthplace Of Captain Kirk
It's a huge deal to be the birthplace of arguably the greatest Starfleet captain ever. Captain James Tiberius Kirk won't be born until 2228, which gives residents of Riverside, IA, enough time to prep the town for the emergence of the future space commander.
Riverside wasn't written into Kirk's backstory initially, although series creator Gene Rodenberry did state the character was from Iowa. Seeing an opening to put Riverside on the map, Trekkie and city council member Steve Miller brought up the idea to rechristen Riverside as the future birthplace of Captain Kirk at a meeting in 1985. Everyone embraced the idea. The town changed their slogan from "Where the best begins" to "Where the Trek begins," and began hosting "Trek Fest."