1. Tomatoes, potatoes, radishes and cheese - it may sound like the fixings for some exotic foreign dish, but each is actually the main ingredient for some of the weirdest and wackiest festivals (not to mention tourist attractions) in the world.
2. Potatoes, not tomatoes, rule in another food-related festival held in August. About 15,000 gather in a small Minnesota town each year for Barnesville Potato Days, a weekend fest which includes such spud-centric fun as potato-peeling and potato-picking contests, potato sculpturing, potato sack races and a massive human 'mash' pit (above).
3. Orange you glad he wore a helmet? A participant gets a face full of instant o.j. at the annual Battle of Oranges in Ivrea, Italy. Several teams in elaborate costumes compete by flinging oranges at each other, a custom said to have originated in 1266 when p.o.-ed peasants dissed a tyrannical feudal lord and his men by winging oranges at them.
4. It's all downhill from here at the Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, a Gloucestershire, England, festival where participants risk life and limb to follow a wheel of cheese down a steep and bumpy hill. The rolling cheese can reach speeds up to 70 mph, and injuries are common in this event said to date from Roman times. But it's worth it considering the first prize - the winner gets to keep the cheese, if not his dignity.
5. Chasing cheese has spread to other shores - Canada now has its own version, albeit a little safer. Men in helmets (above) run after an elusive, 11-lb. wheel of c
6. Belly-floppin' into mud pits is just some of the down n' dirty fun at the annual Summer Redneck games, held in East Dublin, Ga., as a way of celebrating, well, being a redneck. Other contests and events include bobbing for pigs' feet, throwing 'horseshoes' (toilet seat covers) and spitting watermelon seeds.
7. The Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab Challenge in Virginia Beach, Va., is tailor-made for crabby people - owners of hermit crabs who enter their beloved pets in such competitions as 'beauty' contests and the Crustacean 500 (above), where hundreds of crabs race each other - very, very slowly - along an eight-foot track.
8. This annual Thai fest is more fun than a barrel of you-know-whats. At least it is for the thousands of monkeys who live in the Lopburi province near Bangkok and are offered a lavish feast of food, fruit and vegetables - washed down with soda pop - by local residents during the Monkey Festival in November. Feeding the critters is said to bring good luck - not to mention a heavy influx of curiosity-seeking tourists.
9. No, Night of the Radishes is not a B-movie horror flick - it's an annual event held on Dec. 23 in Oaxaca, Mexico, that attracts thousands of revelers and dates from 1897. Known in Spanish as Noche de Rabanos, it's when the main plaza in town is turned over to clever sculptures made from huge radishes specially grown for the festival.
10. Spain has festivals centered on running with bulls and the tossing of tomatoes, so is it really a surprise that a festival in Castrillo de Murcia features... jumping over babies? During 'El Salto del Colacho' (Jump of the Devil) men in devil costumes take a flying leap over a mattress full of infants. The tradition dates from the 1620s and is meant to bless the babies. Providing the leapers don't misjudge their trajectories.