5. Ostrich racing, Arizona
Ostriches were first brought to the US in the 1880s, and ostrich-riding races sprung up in several states across the country. The biggest current race is in Arizona, at the , which will celebrate its 30th year in 2018.
The event is a bit like a horse race, though riders have (unsurprisingly) significantly less control. The ostriches can run up to about 40mph (70kmph) – fairly similar to horses – and leap up to 16 feet (5m) in a single stride.
With so much wildlife roaming around in the US and so many SUVs cruising on the highways, there’s bound to be some unfortunate collateral damage.
But every September, people in Marlington, West Virginia, have a , where you can try such delights as biscuits covered in squirrel gravy, teriyaki-marinated bear or deer sausage, all scooped up from the side of the road after an unfortunate accident.
7. The National Hollerin’ Contest, North Carolina
Before the invention of the telephone, hollerin’ was more than just a simple yell. A cross between a yodel and a hunting cry, hollerin’ was a highly developed form of communication over long distances, especially popular in the American southeast.
In 1969, in Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina, The National Hollerin’ Contest was started to uphold this entertaining tradition, and has been going every year since.
8. Pumpkin chucking, Delaware
Not only are pumpkins used as an ingredient in a dizzying array of seasonal dishes, with total disregard for the sacred division between sweet and savoury, but these huge orange squashes are also ceremoniously lobbed into the air as far as possible as part of a time-old ritual.
The country’s original and largest pumpkin chucking contest, , is held annually in the state of Delaware. Contestants use trebuchets, catapults, torsions and air cannons to make those pumpkins fly. The furthest has travelled 4694 feet (1.4km).
The 2017 contest was cancelled due to an incident at the previous year's event. Check for future details.
9. The imperial system
The practice of using feet and inches, pounds and ounces and pints and gallons was passed to the USA by the British, modified slightly, and has stood the test of time in the face of strong opposition. The rival metric system was considered atheistic by some when it first emerged in the nineteenth century.
A periodical published in Ohio in the 1880s defended the traditional system as “a just weight and a just measure, which alone are acceptable to the Lord.”
Despite the fact that the metric system was formally sanctioned by Congress way back in 1866, the US remains the only industrialized country in the world not to have adopted it as the official system of measurement.
Explore more of the USA with The Rough Guide to the USA. Compare flights, find tours, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go.