For the Love of Funk: 8 of the Messiest and Most Awesome Events in the US

Some of the best adventures happen when you let loose and get a little dirty. For some, that literally means rolling around in mud in the name of competition, while others might look forward to stuffing their faces with barbeque and not worrying about keeping it off their T-shirts. (If some of it does happen to land on your fresh new tee, we’ve got you covered.)

No matter what your definition of messy is, there’s an event out there for you. Here are a few of our favorites from around the country to add to your event bucket list.

1. Tough Mudder: Around the United States

If crawling through the mud, splashing in dirty water, and getting sweaty with thousands of other people sounds like a good time, stop what you’re doing (okay, finish our list first) and sign up for a Tough Mudder. As obstacle races have become more popular over the years, Tough Mudders have stood out among the rest as some of the most fun—and challenging—events in the country. Race distances range from a one-mile showdown to a 5K to a 12-hour event that takes all night. Events are held around the country, so there’s surely one happening near you!

2. Cow Chip Throw: Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin

For more than 40 years, people have gathered in Marion Park along the Wisconsin River to chuck cow pies farther than their neighbor. There are categories for kids, adults, and teams, and the rules are simple: Choose two chips from the wagon (at least six inches in diameter) and throw them as far as you can. By the way, you can’t wear gloves, but you may lick your fingers before you throw (this part is optional, but highly recommended to get the best, um, grip).

Tough Mudder competitions range from one-mile races to 12-hour, all-night events. Igor Rodrigues

3. Cupid’s Undie Runs: Around the United States

Billed as the “largest pantless party and mile(ish) run in the nation,” this event is held annually on Valentine’s Day weekend. Since 2010, more than 98,000 people have come together to run a mile in their underwear, have a few drinks, and canoodle with their new Valentine at an epic, post-run dance party. The best part? It’s all for charity, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting neurofibromatosis (NF) research.

4. International Bar-B-Q Festival: Owensboro, Kentucky

This festival was created in 1979 to celebrate local bbq in Daviess County. Competitors take the event very seriously, which means spectators get to enjoy the spoils of their efforts. Bring your appetite to sample sandwiches and burgoo (a stew common in the South), or get serious yourself and sign up for the mutton sandwich-eating contest or pie-eating contest. Stick around to see who wins the coveted Governor’s Cup and consider yourself a winner, too, if you manage to keep your shirt clean.

5. Bay to Breakers: San Francisco, California

A staple on the San Francisco running scene for more than a century, the Bay to Breakers 12K has become so popular that it now attracts more than 50,000 runners each year. Runners range from serious competitors to people out for a Sunday Funday run, wearing everything from running shorts to funky costumes to their birthday suits. The race starts near the Embarcadero (by the bay) and ends near the Pacific Ocean (the breakers).

Bonnaroo has emerged as one of the premier music festivals in the country. Krists Luhaers

6. Bonnaroo: Manchester, Tennessee

There’s nothing like spending four days in the humid Southeast dancing with thousands of other people to some of the best artists in the country, right? Since its inception in 2002, Bonnaroo has been one of the premier summer music festivals in the United States. Music lovers travel from all over to attend and listen to artists ranging from The Avett Brothers to Kendrick Lamar to Kacey Musgraves. Expect to get sweaty, dirty, and have the time of your life.

7. Zombie Walk: Chicago, Illinois

If you’re a Walking Dead fan, bust out your best zombie makeup and add this one to your calendar. The Zombie Walk is just one of many events put on by a group known as Dark Chicago, and it’s gained in popularity every year. The Zombie Walk is open to children and adults, and organizers emphasize respect and creating a fun atmosphere for everyone. Practice your ambling and head over to Millenium Park to express your inner zombie.

8. Whoopie Pie Festival: Ronks, Pennsylvania

Few people can resist a whoopie pie, with its sweet, creamy frosting in between two rounds of chocolate cake. So it should come as no surprise that there’s an entire festival dedicated to this tasty treat. From a whoopie pie launch to an amateur whoopie pie eating contest, there are plenty of events to show your appreciation of this Northeast specialty. Keep an eye out for the largest whoopie pie ever made—some years pies have weighed more than 250 pounds!

Written by Abbie Mood for Matcha in partnership with Defunkify and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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