From mud-drenched obstacle courses to gravity defying stunts at the Summer X-Games, TakeGreatPictures.com selects the best photo opportunities across the country. The website recommends unique contests, festivals, celebrations, and sporting events where all photographers, from beginning novices to advanced pros, can create and refine their artistic abilities while also making new memories in the summer sun. When photographing these events, keep in mind the many ways to preserve and to share these pictures. Have a great picture of an X Games competitor going vertical? Consider making a poster-size print. Have a sequence illuminating African heritage? Make a photo book.
Below is TakeGreatPictures.com's list for Summer 2008.
1. FIESTA MEXICANA (TOPEKA, KS) / JULY 15 - 19
Into its 74th year, Fiesta Mexicana in Topeka, KS has grown tremendously through the decades. Ask a longtime parishioner what "memorias" come to mind from past Fiestas, and the answers would be as colorful as the event itself, including children relishing raspas (snow cones), cracking cascarones (confetti eggs), and the sound of gritos (Spanish for a long shout of happiness) to ranchero or corrido music played. Link: olg-parish.org/fiesta/history.html
2. MIGHTY MUD MANIA (SCOTTSDALE, AZ) / JULY 18
"Mighty Mud Mania" began in 1976 as the "Shout It Out Decathlon," a promotional gimmick for Johnson's Wax "Shout" Spray pre-wash. Johnson's dropped the program because the Arizona mud was too tough for the pre-wash. However, the City of Scottsdale continued the annual activity with mud-drenched obstacles courses for kids of all ages. Link: www.scottsdaleaz.gov/Page7446.aspx
3. GARLIC FESTIVAL (GILROY, CA) / JULY 25 - 27
Gilroy claims to be the garlic capital of the USA and at this festival the fragrant bulb is incorporated into every possible offering - a garlic lover's paradise. The festival's Gourmet Alley is the setting for some truly delicious cooking. Numerous delicacies are on the menu, and you can try them all thanks to the "combo" plate, a selection of all the most popular dishes. Link: gilroygarlicfestival.com/
4. SUMMER X-GAMES (LOS ANGELES, CA) / JULY 31 - AUGUST 3
The annual Summer X-Games are held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles this year. Over 300 of the world's best alternative sports athletes compete for medals and nearly $1 million in cash. The competitors defy gravity and test fate by launching off jumps, sliding down rails, spinning and flipping in a variety of sports. Link: expn.go.com/expn/index
5. AFRICAN WORLD FESTIVAL (MILWAUKEE, WI) / AUGUST 2 - 3 The African World Festival is an annual celebration of African heritage and culture. The event is held each year on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan at the Maier Festival Park, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The festival's mission is to promote and share the culture and heritage of all people of African descent with the global community.
6. ELVIS WEEK (MEMPHIS, TN) / AUGUST 9 - 17
Each August, Elvis fans of all ages from around the world gather in Memphis, Tennessee for Elvis Week -- a commemoration of the music, magic and memories associated with the legacy of Elvis Presley. Long-time fans and those who are new to it enjoy a full week of music, dance, sports, social and charitable events -- all in an atmosphere of international friendship and camaraderie. Link: www.elvisweek.com/events/default.aspx
7. WEIRD CONTEST WEEK (OCEAN CITY, NJ) / AUGUST 18 - 22
Each August, Ocean City invites visitors to partake in their annual Weird Contest Week. Events occur daily and range from the intriguing to the bizarre. Previous events have featured Taffy Sculpting, French Fry Sculpting, Artistic Pie Eating (boats, seagulls, the state of New Jersey), Wet T-shirt Tossing (record: 165 feet), Putrid Puns and Celebrity Super Hero Impersonations. Link: www.2camels.com/weird-contest-week.php
8. BURNING MAN (BLACK ROCK DESERT, NV) / AUGUST 25 - SEPTEMBER 1
People from all over the country make the journey to the Black Rock Desert, NV for one week out of the year to be part of an experimental community, which challenges its members to express themselves and rely on themselves to a degree that is not normally encountered in one's day-to-day life. The result of this experiment is Black Rock City, home to the Burning Man event, where a giant wooden effigy is set on fire as part of the ritual. Link: www.burningman.com/
9. LABOR DAY CELEBRATION AND MOON PIE EATIN' CONTEST (BIRMINGHAM, AL) / SEPTEMBER 1
The family-orientated Annual Labor Day Celebration and Moon Pie Eatin' Contest is held at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park. Expect craft stalls, music, a barbecue and, of course, the contest to see who can eat the most moon pies. Link: www.tannehill.org/
10. UNITED STATES DANCE CHAMPIONSHIPS (ORLANDO, FL) / SEPTEMBER 2 - 6
Contestants from over 30 countries dance their way to Universal Orlando for the United States Dance Championships. Spectators enjoy an atmosphere charged with Latin fire as both amateur and professional couples fight it out in the most elegant way possible. Fierce competition determines the outcome of four major World Championships. Link: www.unitedstatesdancechampionships.com/
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