Mike the Headless Chicken! Wood ticks! Nyckelharp Lag!

It’s our almost-annual look-ahead to some of the strangest summer fests.

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Sorry for the late notice if you're planning to head to Mike the Headless Chicken Days. It's this weekend.

Mike the Headless Chicken Days
Where: Fruita, Colo.
When: June 3-4
What: For nearly 20 years, Fruita, Colo., has held Mike the Headless Chicken Days, a two-day festival in celebration of a chicken who lived for 18 months after his head was cut off. Sure, Mike was featured in Life magazine in 1945. And it's stunning to consider that the chicken was kept alive by his owner/almost executioner, who "inserted grain and water into Mike's neck hole with an eyedropper." Still, there's something slightly disturbing about celebrating the decapitation of a chicken with a chicken eating contest, a chicken run, and the Chicken Dance Marathon (last year's winner lasted 26 minutes).
All you really need to know: "Inserted grain into Mike's neck hole."

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Beanhole Days
Where: Pequot Lakes
When: July 12-13
What: Since 1935 (with a patriotic pause during the World War II years), Pequot Lakes has celebrated the "day the pioneers buried the beans." According to legend, Pequot Lakes pioneers were cooking a bean dinner when rumors of an Indian attack forced them to flee, but not before burying their bean pots. When the pioneers returned and unearthed the beans, they were "tastier than ever." Today, 2,000-plus beanholers (their term, not ours) turn out for the annual Raising of the Pots (now done with backhoes) for the 150-gallon bean feed.
All you really need to know: You get to eat beans that have been made tastier by being stored in the ground. Also—and this is right from their brochure: "People are lined up for blocks. There’s an aroma in the air. It’s Beanhole Days!"

Wood Tick Races
Where: Cuyuna
When: June 11
What: Annually for the past 43 years (including a small event last year just to keep the streak alive), the city of Cuyuna (and a few other towns in northern Minnesota) has hosted the Wood Tick Races, in which the insects are placed in the center of a 1-foot-radius ring and scurry to the circular finish line. Human contestants can bring their own ticks or buy them on site for a dollar. More than one news report documents the fact that Cuyuna kids will walk through tick-infested areas in their shorts to collect and sell the creatures.
All you really need to know: Cuyuna kids will walk through tick-infested areas in their shorts to collect and sell the creatures.

Spelmansstämma: Gammalgården
Where: Scandia
When: Aug. 20
What: In addition to the theme — "Celebrating The Immigrant Fiddle!" — this year's Spelmansstämma: Gammalgården also features Nyckelharp Lag, ASI Spelman Lag, Hillebola, Gammelkyrkan, Stuga, Landugard, Butik, Prasthus, Teknikomradet, Spelmansstämma, and Gammalgården!
All you really need to know: Spelmansstämma! And Gammalgården!!


Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

Opinion by Steve Lange
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