I decided to get brave. You know, braver than barreling down a racetrack on a camel’s back. Plus, the timing finally worked out. I’m usually back east for young George’s birthday when Virginia City is having their annual Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry, also called the testicle festival. I’ve long been curious about the event, though.
This year, curiosity morphed into excitement when I realized the calendar gods would allow me to be in Nevada for this year’s festivities. That, of course, was quickly followed by trepidation as the reality of being there hit me—the reality of eating testicles.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t try some of the offerings. Yet making the mental leap into eating testicles? That takes some effort. As far as cuisine goes, I struggle with texture much more than flavor. So in the days leading up to the Oyster Fry my anticipation danced between trying to prepare myself mentally and not over thinking the whole thing.
The testicle festival
Each March, brave souls throng to C Street to get their fill of testicles. The running joke is that it’s the “other other” white meat. Vendors take their liberties with preparing dishes in all manner of ways—tacos, chili, egg rolls, sandwiches, and more. Festival-goers buy tasting tickets for their chance to sample the chefs’ creativity with the non-mainstream meat. Lines at the booths grow into the day as visitors emerge on a lazy Saturday morning. They share their experiences with the various testicular offerings, pet each other’s dogs, and enjoy the wacky St. Patrick’s Day costumes many are wearing.
The weather here is notoriously volatile. Sure enough, a snow storm blew through in the days leading up to the event, leaving the landscape a picturesque winter wonderland. That meant the St. Patrick’s Day parade was cancelled so the organizers could be certain they’d have the streets ready for the festival. The fickle weather that day flitted between the fabulous warmth of winter sunshine and swirling snow flurries. Visitors were not at all flustered. The combination of lively music, beer, quirky food, and enthusiasm keeps the momentum through the day.
Going all in
After poking around a bit to get a sense of the festival and grab some photos, I finally put my money where my mouth is and dove into the testicular offerings. For my first taste, I went with Virginia City’s chili which seemed a good way to ease into becoming a testicle eater. Honestly, it was easy. It tasted like chili. The ground meat texture was a little chewier than ground beef and the flavor milder but good.
I was relieved. I was over the biggest obstacle of having my first taste and it wasn’t a problem. So I moved through various other vendors, sampling different styles of tacos, batter-fried bits, eggroll-type creations, stuffed jalapeños, sandwiches, and the like. The dishes made with ground meat seemed to be the most appetizing. Those that that used the testicles in a more natural state were less so.
While I survived the experience and the flavor was fine, it’s not something I’d seek out other than for the novelty of a fun event like this. Other meats taste better and have better texture. It was certainly fun to try and expand my life experience. Plus the event itself is simply a great way to spend time in Virginia City. One of the highlights was chatting with the various vendors who were having a ball with the crowd and joking about the nature of their creations. The most surreal moment? That was standing in the middle of C Street in a snow flurry with testicles stuck between my teeth. That’s a different kind of adventure travel, y’all. 😉
The best in testicles
Along with the festivities and frolicking, this is also a contest. The festival culminates with awards for best taste, presentation, creativity, and the people’s choice. So amidst the fun the participants are under the pressure of winning a title. Watching the vendors prep, I couldn’t help but be nervous and excited for them… and rooting for all of them even though not everyone can win. In the end, they’re all lovely people in pursuit of an odd achievement. I dig that.
Testicle festival in a nutshell
Many thanks to the good folks at Virginia City Tourism for setting me up with a tasting package for the event. Here’s a short video of my experience at the festival. Enjoy!
Adventure on, friends! In every way you can imagine. Even if that means eating testicles.