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Coarsegold Tarantula Festival

late October – Coarsegold, California

This creepy, crawly festival – one of California's top events, paying respect to spiders and Tarantulas in particular is fun for the whole family.

While some people tend to run away from tarantulas, one small town in California’s gold country celebrates them, and some people even embrace them.

Coarsegold originally started as a mining town in 1849, when large nuggets were found in a nearby stream. Since then, the city has made its living by ranching and, thanks to the numerous tourists that come through the area on Highway 41 in their way to Yosemite, tourism. Coarsegold holds its own for attracting tourists each October, however, as the small town pays homage to tarantulas.

The annual Coarsegold Tarantula Festival is a favorite event among locals and visitors alike, as they take part in numerous events all honoring this eight-legged denizen of the region.

“When we first moved here, I accidentally ran over a tarantula and was severely admonished by a neighbor,” said Dian Boland, the founder of the event, now running strong in its 11th year. That incident inspired her to learn more about this misunderstood creature. The more she learned, the more she wanted to celebrate it. “I wanted to make people aware of how interesting they are, how they really are good for the environment and unique to the mountains up here and really a lot of fun,” she said.

It’s true that the city has built a cottage industry around the tarantula. A massive sculpture of one sits atop the city’s Historic Village. Residents go out of their way to protect the creatures, as killing one is definitely considered a faux paux.

The festival has helped to increase the lifespan of area tarantulas as well, according to Boland. “I’ve had hundreds of people who say they spared the life of a tarantula because of the festival,” she said. People are reporting they now gently move them from places they’re not wanted, instead of resorting to a shoe or bug spray.

Numerous events take place as part of the festival, from a cheesecake contest, to a hairiest leg contest, with men and women’s categories. “The girls at the Yosemite Bank who are our sponsors, it’s their favorite thing. They can’t wait to come down and see the thick, hairy legged men running around. To top it off, we have thick, hairy legged women too,” Boland said with a laugh.

The highlight, however, are the Tarantula races. Locals come with what they hope is the fastest tarantula for the race. “It is amazing. We are very careful with them. You can bring your pet, but we ask if someone found one in the wild to take it back where they found it once the race is over,” Boland said.

The races consist of heats of ten tarantulas making their way through a dryer tube, with a handler at each end. “People get really excited with the $50 gift certificate and trophy up for grabs,” said Boland.

Other competitions and events include a pizza eating contest, a Trick or Treat parade for kids, poetry contest and a “scream off” where vociferous competitors, or perhaps horror movie victim wannabees, can see who has the most blood curdling scream. “It’s all a lot of fun for the whole family,” said Boland.

For more information about the annual Coarsegold Tarantula Festival, visit:

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Battle of Horseshoe Bend
Moundville Native American Festival

Bisbee 1000 Great Stair Climb
Navajo Nation Fair
Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival
World Championship Hoop Dance Contest

Bay to Breakers 12K
Coarsegold Tarantula Festival

Annual Craft Expo
Antique & Classic Boat Rendezvous

Jacksonville Jazz Festival
Pensacola Beach Air Show
Tallahassee Springtime Festival
Tallahassee Winter Festival and Celebration of Lights

Savannah Music Festival
Blessing of the Fleet

Honolulu Marathon

Coeur d'Alene Resort Holiday Light Show

Indianapolis 500
Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration
Indiana State Fair
Feast of the Hunters’ Moon

Des Moines Arts Festival

Dodge City Days
Smoky Hill River Festival

American Quilter’s Society National Quilt Show
Great American Brass Band Festival
Hillbilly Days
International Bar-B-Q Festival
Jerusalem Ridge Festival
Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Festival
Mainsstrasse Village Oktoberfest
St James Court Art Show
World Chicken Festival

Lake Charles Contraband Days

Ocean City Sunfest

The Boston Marathon

Holland Tulip Time Festival
Great Lakes Folk Festival

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival

The Mississippi Delta Blues Festival

Burning Man

New Hampshire
League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair
New Hampshire Maple Weekend
New Hampshire Seafood Festival
Strawbery Banke Museum Candlelight Stroll

New Mexico
Albuquerque International Balloon Festival
Santa Fe Indian Market
Santa Fe Spanish Market

New York
Oswego Harborfest

North Carolina
` • Biltmore Festival of Flowers
North Carolina Azalea Festival
North Carolina Seafood Festival

Columbus Arts Festival
The Vectron Dayton Air Show

Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival

Fall Kite Festival
Whale Watching Events

Rhode Island
Newport Jazz Festival
Newport Winter Fetival
Rhode Island International Film Festival

South Carolina
Beaufort Water Festival
Carolina Cup

South Dakota
Fort Sisseton Historical Festival
Tabor Czech Days

Dogwood Arts Fetival
Mule Day
Secret City Festival

Terlingua International Chili Championship

The Moab Music Festival

Washington DC
The National Cherry Blossom Festival

Washington State International Kite Festival
National Lentil Festival

American Birkebeiner
EAA AirVenture
Milwaukee Irish Fest
Milwaukee Summerfest

Cody Stampede Rodeo
Woodchoppers Jamboree and Rodeo