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Eccentric Festivals That Celebrate Single Foods (PHOTOS)

Posted: 02/23/2012 7:00 am

Food festivals can be divided into two categories: those that showcase a broad and diverse culinary spectrum and those that hone in on a single ingredient and celebrate it to the tens.

The first category is where you find the top chefs and $200/ticket tastings. The single-food festivals draw the specialists, the peculiar traditions and the devotees. Whenever hundreds of people gather to wrestle in gravy or hurl buckets of overripe tomatoes at each other, thousands of gawkers will follow. They generally get an eyeful. From bizarre to gourmet, these single-food festivals demonstrate all the ways that an ingredient can transcend the plate.

International Eelpout Festival
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When Jay Leno sends a crew to film an obscure midwinter fishing contest for his show, it's a reason for the whole state to celebrate and to stage a press campaign as well. Hence, 2012 is the year of the media blitz for the International Eelpout Festival. This Minnesota lake-fishing, eel-loving tradition is actually in its 33rd annual run this February 16 through 19, and draws about 10,000 people. Even if you don't want to kiss an eel for luck or jump into an iced-over lake, you might enjoy the "frozen" wet tee-shirt contest or the ice bar on the lake.
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