CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- From Dunbar's Commode Bowl fall football classic parade to Marlinton's Roadkill Cook-off, West Virginia has more than its share of colorful festivals, fairs and parades. With summer's arrival just a couple of weeks distant, I thought I would use this space to list a few festivals that didn't make the Division of Tourism's official list:
Marginal Conditions Days -- On March 25, the state's ski areas celebrate the end of the snow season with a tribute to slush and mud. Activities include an all-comers Marginal Conditions Wrestling tourney in an outdoor pit, a marginal conditions four-wheeler bog run, and a patchy snow downhill race. Rental gear not available.
Fire in the Hole on the Mountain Fest -- This July 4 festival combines the fireworks of an Independence Day celebration with a month's worth of mountaintop removal blasting condensed into a single hour's worth of eye-popping pyrotechnics. Person whose car is most severely damaged by flyrock wins door prize: Huffington Post video clip of festival host Ted Nugent insulting liberal of choice.
Governor's Cup Construction Cone Slalom -- Road work on Interstate 79 in the Clendenin area is put on hold on July 14 to give commuters the chance to vent their frustration over delays and slowdowns while testing their driving skills. Contestants weave through a two-mile-long array of orange construction cones at the maximum construction speed of 50 miles per hour, touching as few cones as possible. Trophy filled with tar removal products and relaxation tapes goes to winner.
Hell's Kitchen Hellgrammite/Hellbender Cookoff -- Two of West Virginia's least-appetizing river critters are braised, broiled, poached and planked by amateur chefs in this mid-summer food fest judged by foul-tempered Hell's Kitchen host Gordon Ramsay. Takes place Aug. 15 along lower Gauley River near Pure Screaming Hell rapid.
Trout Truck Tailgate Party -- Celebrate the start of the state's fall trout stocking program on Oct. 10 with a car caravan parade down scenic Williams River Road, led by a DNR hatchery truck. Caravan ends at a trout rearing pond at Edray Hatchery, where trout truck tailgaters can legally snag, seine and dip-net trout for one hour, or until pond empties -- whichever comes first. Prizes awarded for largest and most inventively taken trout, best roadside cooking.
Mountain State Methamphetamine Cook-Off -- Whether the preferred technique is down-home shake-and-bake or involves an intricate German-style anhydrous ammonia process, meth cooks from across the state are invited to gather and tweak their favorite DIY dummy dust recipes at a landfill to be named later. Competitors may be eligible for two to five years' free lodging courtesy of event sponsor, the West Virginia State Police.
The Pie Cake Festival -- On the first Saturday of September, the Mingo County community of Pie pays tribute to its crusty baked goods heritage with a cake baking and decorating competition.
Fridge Day -- On the second Saturday in October, the highest interstate highway bridge in America -- 700-foot-tall Glade Creek Interstate 64 Bridge in Raleigh County -- is closed to traffic to let visitors connect with a once-traditional Appalachian solid waste disposal system. Re-enactors working under contract to the National Park Service will drive pickup trucks to a mid-span drop zone, where they will lift an assortment of major appliances to the rail and let them fly, aiming for targets in the streambed below. All dropped appliances will later be retrieved, recycled and reused.