With only 442 citizens, 100 of whom reside in the local retirement home, La Tour Blanche in southwestern France is a quiet town. Okay, a very quiet town. Except for one weekend in August, when it becomes a very silly town. Once a year since 1985 the closet overachievers of La Tour Blanche work themselves into a foolish frenzy and host the Unusual Records Festival, whereat the world’s greatest number of asinine world records are set. You want silly? Behold the largest ever clog, which stretches almost 11 feet and weighs more than a ton. No? How about the biggest beach chair—7.87 feet high. Still not satisfied? Be quiet and watch the world champion date-pit spitter in action as he hits his peak by spewing a pit—drum roll—54 feet.
“It’s a little crazy, isn’t it?” admits Mayor Paul Malville. Seconds later, 22-year-old Pascal Leparc is crawling behind a frozen pea and, puffing like a man possessed, coaxing it to glory down a mile-long course in 70 minutes, 33 seconds—a world record.
This year’s festival drew 6,000 visitors from all over…well, all over southwestern France. The outré Olympiad is the brainchild of Daniel Ponceau, 42, a banker and devotee of The Guinness Book of World Records, who says it has become “a local obsession” to hatch ever goofier games. “People sit around saying, ‘Why not…?’ ” he says, and nobody can think of why not. This year, why not crepe tossing? Tying knots in cherry stems inside your mouth? Why not?
Cynics might say all this is to woo tourists, but cynics don’t set world records. “It’s strictly for a laugh,” Ponceau insists, but he is too modest. Already his town has gotten Guinness to accept 15 of its wacko records, including world’s longest paper-clip chain (almost 24 miles). And wait till next year!