Fall Festivals That Celebrate Animals

Every writer wants the setting in his story to be as authentic as possible. You want the reader to feel as though he is part of the story and is right there experiencing everything right along with your characters. If your story happens to take during the fall of the year, all or some of it could take place at one of the following festivals.

adult and juvenile turkey vultures, flickr

The Vulture Fest takes place in Makanda, Illinois. The festival celebrates the migration of two different kinds of vultures to the region: the black vulture and the turkey vulture. The return of vultures to the region signals the end of summer. It takes place for two days during the third week in October. While you watch the sky fill with these returning black birds, you can buy some of your typical fair food and look at the homemade arts and crafts of local vendors.

Troop’s grave in Coon Dog Cemetery, wikimedia commons

The Coon Dog Graveyard Celebration takes place every Labor Day in Tuscumbia, Alabama, the only city in this nation in which a coon dog graveyard exists. Troop, on September 4, 1937, was the first coon dog to be buried in Freedom Hills Cemetery. Every year, members of the Tennessee Valley Coon Hunters Association gather at the cemetery to throw a huge party with music, food, and wine while they pay their respects to their departed brethren.


elephant polo tournament, flickr

There are four countries in which the Elephant Polo World Championship can take place: Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. One week out of the month of September is chosen for riders to play polo while perched on these huge lumbering pachyderms. These animals are so large that at times they unintentionally hide the ball while the polo is being played. Then there is the enormous amount of dung, 1200 pounds of the smelly stuff, that the seven elephants have to get rid of sometime during the day. The championship might be fun to watch on television, but I don’t think I would want to attend.

The Great Gorilla Run in London, wikimedia commons

The Great Gorilla Run is a charity event that has taken place in London, England every year since 2003. Hundreds of people don gorilla outfits; they run (or walk) a 7-kilometer route through the sights of London. A gorilla dressed as Superman could be running alongside a gorilla dressed as a ballerina. Proceeds from this run go to help save the remaining 720 mountain gorillas left in the world.

Carlsbad Caverns in Carlsbad, New Mexico is home to thousands of Mexican Freetail Bats for 6 months out of every year. The International Bat Festival, which takes place during September, not only provides a lot of fun for those who attend, it also teaches the public the truth about bats through lectures, lore, and stage exhibits.

The Monkey Buffet Festival, wikimedia commons

On the last Sunday in November every year, there is a Monkey Buffet Festival in Lopburi, Thailand. Macaques, who freely roam through the city, are thought to bring good fortune. During the festival, the locals provide food, ranging from fruits to soda, for these little primates who can practically inhale more than 4 tons of this all-you-can-eat feast. I wonder, are the monkeys so used to being freely fed on this day each year that they would attack if one year the free food didn’t appear?

Part of the Royal Adelaide Show in Adelaide, Australia is a sport that I bet you never knew existed – the Pig Racing and Diving Event. No, the pigs are not thrown into the pool of water; they jump willingly. It is a blast to watch their graceful diving. Why do they have this event? I couldn’t find a reason. Maybe it is just held for the fun of it.

The Tübingen Duck Race is an annual event in Tübingen, Germany every October. How does one get the ducks to race? It is a lot easier when they are not of the feathered variety but are members of the plastic yellow species whose natural habitat is the bathtub. Their bottoms weighted, these bright yellow ducks bob along the River Nekar from Alleenbrücke to Neckarbrücke, with the crowds watching cheering them on their merry way.

The International Goat Days Festival takes place in Millington, Tennessee, every September. The festival was originally founded with the intent of holding goat races, although I’m not sure how you would persuade goats to race each other. Now it has grown so much more than that and has the feel of a county fair, even though the main focus is on goats. Puck Fair, an 800-year-old celebration of goats that takes place in Killorglin, Ireland, has become its sister festival across the ocean.

Visiting one of these festivals would enable you to experience the sights, sounds, and smells first-hand. If you aren’t able to take part in one, you can probably find videos of all of these festivals on YouTube.

monkey typing, wikimedia commons

Writing Prompts
Vultures flying in for the Vulture Fest could find the body of a town resident that has been missing for days.

During the Coon Dog Graveyard Celebration party, two old friends who have been searching for each other for years could finally find each other again.

Someone travels overseas to witness the Elephant Polo World Championship. Why? Is it because of a love for elephants? Is it because this person is afraid the elephants are abused in some way? Is it because a loved one has been kidnapped and going to see this championship is somehow part of what must be done to get this person back?

During the Great Gorilla Run, all of the participants are in gorilla costumes. At least one of them could be a thief planning some great robbery. One could be a murderer with plans to kill someone during the festival. One could be an alien scoping out the city for a takeover. You never know who the gorilla next to you is.

You get the idea. Whether you write adventure, mystery, romance, or horror, you could use any of the festivals as part of your story.

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