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World's Strangest Conventions

Twins Day Festival, Twinsburg, Ohio

John Robinson

Imagine a hotel where, in a single weekend, Brad and Angelina, Jennifer Aniston, John Mayer, and Jessica Simpson all stay under the same roof—without a single catfight or a single tabloid reporter there to document the drama. Sound impossible?

It’s not if the “celebrities” are look-alikes, and the hotel is hosting the annual Celebrity Impersonators Conference. Here, not only do all of today’s A-list stars get along—even long-gone VIPs come to join the party. This might be the only place in the world (apart from a wax museum) where you can get a photo op alongside Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.

This gathering for faux celebrities—and those who appreciate them—is just one of the wacky conventions that happen around the world every year. And given the thousands of people who congregate at these fetes to celebrate their shared passion for horror movies, cake decorating, and TV sitcoms, the fun of uniting around a common interest seems abundantly clear.

“The community of celebrity impersonators and tribute artists is one huge family,” says Janna Joos, director of the conference. “These kids are amazing to see networking with each other—Cher sharing with other Chers, Tina tapping out dance steps with other Tinas, Tim McGraw comparing cowboy hats with other Tims, or Oprah dishing the gossip with Whoopi.”

No matter the common ground, it’s fair to say conventions bring people together—both literally and figuratively.

Perhaps the best-known example of this phenomenon is Comic Con, the annual comics convention in San Diego that draws a motley crowd of geeks, celebrities, artists, writers, and gamers. The event has such broad appeal and is so heavily promoted and anticipated that even non-comics enthusiasts around the world know about it. (As such, it’s become enough of a cultural norm that it didn’t even make our “World’s Strangest” list.)

The annual World Toilet Summit & Expo, however, is another story.

It may seem bizarre that a quotidian fixture like a toilet could inspire an entire weekend convention—one that brings together droves of toilet-industry professionals, innovators, buyers, and, ahem, everyday end-users. But such gatherings aren’t unusual at all. Witness the LEGO World conference, for example, where lovers of the brightly colored childhood building blocks amass each year. Or the Sunshine State Eggfest, a Florida convention for devotees of a particular brand of barbecue grill.

It seems, in fact, that for every human activity or passion or fad, there’s a conference somewhere where people can commemorate it. And if some of these mass gatherings seem odd, well, it’s also kind of nice—heartwarming, even—that they exist. No matter how eccentric or unusual your secret hobby is, these conventions will make you realize: you’re not alone.

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