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Fair play

Put down that corn dog and try your luck at some of summer's strangest games. Just be sure to wash your hands afterwards.

Photograph: Jennifer A. Niles/JenGraph Designs

Ah crap, it’s summer. That’s the sentiment in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin—and it’s not because the northerners prefer cold weather. Every year, the small town hosts the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival(Sept 3–4, free festival entry, $3 to enter the chip toss). Dried patties of real cow poop—chosen from a giant tray—are hurled as far as possible by competitors standing behind a line in the grass. The state record is an impressive 248 feet.

Ah crap, it’s summer. That’s the sentiment in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin—and it’s not because the northerners prefer cold weather. Every year, the small town hosts the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival(Sept 3–4, free festival entry, $3 to enter the chip toss). Dried patties of real cow poop—chosen from a giant tray—are hurled as far as possible by competitors standing behind a line in the grass. The state record is an impressive 248 feet. Don’t miss the fair mascot: a giant cow patty sporting a clothespin on his nose. You might want to take the hint.

Who knew tug-of-war stakes could grow after middle school? Tug Fest (Aug 12–14) is a tug-of-war between Iowa and Illinois, held at the riverfronts of LeClaire, Iowa, and Port Byron, Illinois. The 2,400-foot tug-of-war rope spans the Mississippi at the state line. Volunteer for the Illinois tug team (225 people make up each state’s team) and help us keep our lead—the current score is Illinois 13, Iowa 10. The actual tugging is done at 1pm on August 14, but arrive any time to enjoy rides, vendors and live music. The Iowa side holds a pancake breakfast—but you wouldn’t go over to the Iowa side, now, would you?

At the DuPage County Fair’s (Jul 21–25) Great American Duck Race (several races a day, free with $10 fair entry), kids and adults (yes!) are chosen from the audience to release mallard ducks onto a watery “racetrack.” Winners—or rather, the human handlers of the winning ducks—get prizes like a duck-bill-shaped duck whistle. The track is 16 feet long, and the world record is 83/100ths of a second. Duck and you’ll miss it.

 

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Festival cover bands | Fair play | Festival food pyramid | Sunning spots | What to wear to this year’s festivals | Greasy festival food | Summer festival bathroom guide | Ethnic street festivals | Festival survival pack | Local craft beer at festivals | Summer festival organizers

 


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