Offbeat events: a proven travel and leisure marketing strategy to create buzz and drive traffic.

The Roswell UFO Festival attracts 20,000 earthlings every year.

If you’re marketing a destination travel or attraction brand, developing an offbeat event can draw attention, interest and traffic.

For years, cities and towns across America have created wacky events to attract big crowds.  Savvy marketers of destination travel and attraction brands are borrowing a chapter from this textbook with unusual events and promotions of their own.

For those of you who still need more inspiration, I submit 10 unusual events featured in a recent Reuters article:

1.  15th Annual Summer Redneck Games-July 10, Dublin Georgia

This year, they’ll feature a mud-pit belly flop contest, armpit serenade, watermelon seed spitting contest, and Redneck Horseshoes.

2. Barnsville Potato Days–August 27-28, Barnsville, MN

This annual celebration attracts 16,000 potato lovers for 40 events, including mashed potato wrestling, and mashed potato sculpturing.

3. Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab Challenge–July 10, Virginia Beach, VA

Competing hermit crabs are showcased in uniquely decorated displays, with prizes for the Friendliest Crab, Shyest Crab, Most Unique Crab Display, and more.

4. The Wayne Chicken Show–July 9-11, Wayne, Nebraska

This three-day event includes the world’s largest chicken dance, best chicken legs competition, and a chicken impersonation contest.

5. Roswell UFO Festival–July 1-4, Roswell, New Mexico

From promoting extraterrestrial education, to an alien pet costume contest, festival goers are sure to experience a healthy dose of paranormal activity.

6. Weird Contest Week – August 16-20, Ocean City, New Jersey

This five-day extravaganza of eccentricity will see a quirky contest held daily including taffy sculpting, biting a cookie to create an artwork, or french fry sculpting.

7. Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw – September 3-4, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin

Dried dung takes on an altogether different use at this annual event,  attended by some 40,000 people each year. The current record of 248 feet is the mark to beat.

8. Hemingway Days Festival – July 20-25, Key West, Florida

The 30th annual offers a “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, and an annual “Running of the Bulls” featuring liquor barrels on wheels.

9. World Championship Cardboard Boat Races – July 31, Heber Springs, Arkansas

Some 4,000 spectators gather to cheer on the competing corrugated cardboard craft. Awards include the Pride of Fleet trophy and the Titanic Award.

10. National Tom Sawyer Days – July 1-4, Hannibal, Missouri

Now in its 55th year, the festival’s events are pulled straight from the pages of classic Twain tales, such as the frog jumping contest and mud volleyball.

Do you use wacky or unusual events to attract guests to your travel or attraction brand?  Tell us about your successes and learning experiences.

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6 Responses to Offbeat events: a proven travel and leisure marketing strategy to create buzz and drive traffic.

  1. This is an interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. […] Offbeat events: a proven travel and leisure marketing strategy to create buzz and drive traffic. […]

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