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Hot Times at the Garlic Festival

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Still, on the weekend of Oct. 8, they'll serve up 12,000 pounds of sauerkraut to some 350,000 cabbage lovers, and folks there won't have a single beer to wash it down.

Despite being located in a dry county, Waynesville two-day fest is heading into its 36th year, after a few neighbors cooked up the idea on a porch one summer night in 1970. Now, they hand out Sauerkraut scholarships and award prizes for the largest head of cabbage, as German oompah bands roll out barrels of fun to the clanging of Pepsi-filled beer steins.


3. Lentils: Even if they run out of soup spoons, you can chow down on spicy lentil enchiladas, authentic Sicilian lentil lasagna and lentil chili in Pullman, Wash. Just save room for the lentil ice cream and lentil chip cookies.

About 25,000 people are expected again on the weekend of Aug. 19 at the 17th annual National Lentil Festival. The state's Polouse region once supplied 80 percent of the world's lentils, and now produces 5,500 metric tons annually.

You can cheer on the intrepid bikers at the Tour de Lentil bike race while the kids frolic with the fun-loving Taste T — a 7-foot furry legume mascot in blue farmer's overalls. Just remember, unless you've arrived in a tractor-trailer, don't enter the 250-gallon lentil chili sweepstakes giveaway.

4. Salsa: If you can't stand the heat, stay out of Scottsdale on the third weekend in April, when the weather's mild, but the competition at Arizona's Salsa Challenge is red hot.

This year, the crowds dipped more than 2,500 pounds of Tostitos chips into 819 gallons of salsa, and washed it down with more than 7,000 margaritas, 10,000 soft drinks and 15,000 beers.

"This is our Mardi Gras," says Mad Coyote Joe, a local chef and Salsa Challenge organizer. "It's a wild, two-day party, with Frisbees flying, girls in tank tops, and fun for families, couples and kids.

Supporters of the Hemophilia Association of Arizona started the event in a parking lot 21 years ago, and more than a decade ago, it moved into Scottsdale Stadium, where restaurants, salsa manufacturers and others vie for gut-busting honors.

This year's event raised $250,000 to sponsor a weeklong camp for kids with hemophilia. "It's getting so big, we're going to need a larger home," Joe says.

To cool the lips of 25,000 chip-chompers, organizers say they had to truck in 15,000 pounds of ice.

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