The Roadkill Festival And Cook-Off You Didn't Know Existed

There is no shortage of food festivals out there that celebrate the yummiest epicurean treasures this country has to offer. Whether you wish to honor the humble pickle at Pittsburgh's Picklesburgh Festival, pay homage to all-things-grilled at Lexington's Barbecue Festival, or show some love to your favorite fruit at Traverse City's National Cherry Festival, there seems to be an event to suit every palate. In fact, Food Reference lists over 7,700 local American food events. Yes, based on that number, you could attend 21 events each day for a whole year and never run out of food fairs or gourmet galas to check out. 

One epicurean extravaganza — and the word "epicurean" is applied quite loosely in this case — is Marlinton, West Virginia's Roadkill Cook-Off and Autumn Harvest Festival. Yes, if squashed squirrel and other furry, flattened carcasses activate your salivary glands, this fall feast was custom-designed for you. Who needs to check out a festival dedicated to Spam or the famed Denver festival, Chowdermeister (yes, combining chowder and Jägermeister is now a thing), when you can dig into a steaming dish of roadkill? 

The cook-off judges deduct points for asphalt in the food

If you're picturing a protein with tire tracks across its flesh and aren't happy about it, there is good news. Wide Open Eats says foods prepared at the festival don't have to feature animals that have actually fallen victim to the roads. They simply have to consist of creatures that you'd typically find flattened on highways and byways. Yes, deer, turtle, squirrel, possum, and groundhog all qualify. 

The best roadkill dish can win a $1200 prize for its creator. According to Atlas Obscura, the rules stipulate, "All judges have been tested for cast-iron stomachs and have sworn under oath to have no vegetarian tendencies." For those who would object to consuming actual roadkill, this BBC admission might cause some discomfort. Apparently, competitors can lose points if the judges come across a piece of gravel in their dishes, and the meals that contain actual roadkill are kept top secret.

You likely won't find a lobster bisque recipe or parmesan risotto on the menu here. This festival's dishes are apparently as much about the catchy monikers as they are about the offbeat ingredients. Past offerings have included Predator Prey Chili, Drunken Deer in the Headlights, and Fender Fried Faun smothered in Vulture Vomit (via Facebook). So maybe attendees turn out for the humor as much as they do for the food. 

This festival boasts a Miss Roadkill pageant

So how do you go about landing yourself a heaping helping of asphalt-smeared turkey, rabbit, or crow? RAD Season states that this year's festival will take place on September 24. It goes on to add that if you're not particularly keen on eating wild animals (no matter how they met their end), there are plenty of other things to do including playing a game of horseshoes, taking part in a five-kilometer run, watching the Miss Roadkill pageant, and shopping for homemade crafts. This festival even offers square dancing lessons, a marching band showcase, and they host a cornhole tournament (FB). 

Whether you're game for wild game meat or simply want to partake in a completely unusual festival that offers the wildest foods you'll find at a food fair, this is a unique gathering. Maybe attendees will hit it lucky and they'll be serving up some "Ma, Them Hogs are Runnin' Wild in the Pineapple." Mm. Hogs in pineapple.