June 12-21, Grand Rapids, Minn.
You don't have to click your heels three times to go to Judy's hometown (pop. 8,000), where seniors claim to remember the diva's debut, at 2 l/2, at the New Grand Theatre in 1924. This year the Itasca County Historical Society Museum will display the blue-check gingham dress and ruby slippers Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz as well as the Oscar she clutched as Vicki Lester in A Star Is Born. Yellow brick roadies can also check out a lawn fair, a fashion show with Judy's real gowns (June 18), an emerald hunt and two performances on June 20th by—gasp!—Garland herself (or so female impressionist Jim Bailey would have you believe).
July 4, Stroud, Okla.
In 1959, Stroud, Okla., and Stroud, England, realized that each boasted a brick factory and a nutty need to compete. Later, Canadian and Australian Strouds pitched in (the Aussies suggesting a distaff rolling pin heave to hype a factory of their own). England owns the brick mark at 142 feet, America the rolling pin record at 156.
July 4, Kenwood, Calif.
Kid stuff? No. Contestants fight on a greased pole over a thigh-deep mud pit. If that's not hot enough for you, fire up with the chili cook-off.
July 23-25, Clute, Tex.
Repellent to most folks, mosquitoes are celebrated in Clute (55 miles southeast of Houston), which claims the ubiquitous blighter as its only natural resource. Frolics include a Mr. and Mrs. Mosquito Legs contest (skinniest wins), a Ms. Quito pageant and a songwriting competition.
July 29, Waynesburg, Pa.
Only 20 times since 1876—the year informal record-keeping began—has Waynesburg (50 miles south of Pittsburgh) failed to see rain on July 29. Each year since 1927 a local or larger dignitary has bet his or her hat on zip precip, usually losing. (In parched 1981 the fire department in desperation sprayed hoses heavenward.) Fun includes free ice-cream sundaes served in a 116-foot foil-lined rain gutter set up on Main Street.
Aug. 7-8, Murray, Idaho
To honor Molly B'Damn, a big-hearted hooker who nursed miners through an 1880s smallpox epidemic, the living ghost town of Murray (pop. 53 and two very popular pubs) runs a carnival and a use-your-imagination Molly Look-Alike contest.
Sept. 4-6, Marfa, Tex.
For some unexplained reason, the night sky over Marfa has glowed eerily at least since the 1840s. Residual Stardust from Liz Taylor and James Dean filming Giant in the desert town in 1956? Or George Bush's thousand points of light? Whatever, there'll be a parade and a roundtable (all welcome) to discuss the phenomenon.
The pursuit of happiness lends to get wackier as the mercury rises. But, hey, that's what makes summer special.