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World's Strangest Conventions
From LEGO blocks to UFOs to toilets, the weird pursuits that bring people
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
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