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There’s something about the change of seasons that must bring the “weird” out in all of us. Maybe it’s Halloween knocking at our door step or that we got a bit too much sun during the summer. No matter the cause, here’s three of the quirkiest, funkiest, and downright weirdest festivals you’ll see, not just in the High Sierra, but quite possibly the United States!

Poison Oak Festival

September 28th, 2019

Learn more about the ‘itchy’ festival

Poison Oak Festival Columbia California
Image Appears Courtesy: Columbia Chamber Of Commerce

Out east in New England, visitors might be going googly-eyed on brightly colored landscapes sipping mulled wine, but in the High Sierra, residents risk it all by creating bouquets made out of poison oak. Every year in late September, along with the fall tapestry, the poison oak festival is held in the Columbia State Historic Park within the confines of the Saint Charles Saloon. The eleven categories in the “flower” contest include such unique features like the biggest branch, best edible, best arrangement and even best rash!

Coyote Festival

September 27th-28th, 2019

Learn more about this ‘howling’ festival

Coyote Festival Coulterville
Image appears courtesy: Coulterville History Center

What do Teddy Roosevelt, the crookedest railroad in the world, Buffalo Bill’s brother Cody Nelson, and Whistling Billy all have in common? The town that’s “too tough to die” or as we know it, Coulterville. Every fall, this gold rush town hosts the largest and funnest festival in northern Mariposa County, known as the Coyote Festival. Activities include live music, a pet parade, a car show, and the star of the show – a coyote howl contest.

Tarantula Festival

October 26th, 2019

Learn more about the eight-legged festival

Tarantula Festival
Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

Arachnophobes may want to take cover during this festival. Held in Coarsegold, locals have gathered every year for more than two decades for all kinds of eight hairy-legged fun. This is about giving these misunderstood arachnids a chance to teach us about themselves in a fun way. Expect to see lots of displays, tarantula races, food and even a costume contest.

From creepy crawl-ees to itchy leaf-ees, howl your way into fun this fall when you visit these three weird, off-the-wall festivals.

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at

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