ENTERTAINMENT

15 Things That Make Riot Fest The Freakiest Music Festival In America

Large-scale music festivals have become a staple of summertime fun, but none of them get quite as weird or wonderful as Riot Fest.

Among the marquee events for Riot Fest's 10-year-anniversary in Chicago over the weekend was a panel that featured the Russian activist band Pussy Riot, whose members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina were jailed for nearly two years after criticizing the Russian government.

Though Pussy Riot didn't perform, there were ample activist messages laced in performances from the likes of NOFX and Patti Smith. Acts like Andrew WK and The Flaming Lips made weirdo fun the focus point of their shows, while bands like Gwar just made sure the crowd got good and (fake) bloody.

The mix of activism, entertainment and sheer oddity has become Riot Fest's hallmark. Now a three city-strong summer event, Riot Fest has remained stubbornly unique, complete with a carnival, a sideshow and 13 more strange sights that you definitely won't find combined at any other music fest. Check them out:

  • Fire Eaters
    Tess LaCoil, the "Pain Proof Pinup" of the Hellzapoppin circus sideshow group, takes a taste of flame during a mid-day perfor
    Kim Bellware/The Huffington Post
    Tess LaCoil, the "Pain Proof Pinup" of the Hellzapoppin circus sideshow group, takes a taste of flame during a mid-day performance.
  • Pizza Mini Golf
    Riot Fest isn't shy about it's love of 'za, and put it on a Riot Putt-Putt course for all to see.
    Kim Bellware/The Huffington Post
    Riot Fest isn't shy about it's love of 'za, and put it on a Riot Putt-Putt course for all to see.
  • Luchadores
    While the metallic masked pros go a few rounds in the ring at Riot Fest, fans are welcome to step in and challenge one anothe
    Kim Bellware/The Huffington Post
    While the metallic masked pros go a few rounds in the ring at Riot Fest, fans are welcome to step in and challenge one another, as well.
  • Burlesque Dancers
    Performers from the Gospel For The Guilty burlesque troupe entertained the crowd between Luchadore wrestling matches. Pro tip
    Joseph Erbentraut/The Huffington Post
    Performers from the Gospel For The Guilty burlesque troupe entertained the crowd between Luchadore wrestling matches. Pro tip for next time via the emcee: the louder you clap, the faster the disrobing happens!
  • Rock Stars With One-Eyed Pups
    No dogs allowed at Riot Fest -- unless you're Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips and your dog is the one-eyed rescue, Lillian.
    Kim Bellware/The Huffington Post
    No dogs allowed at Riot Fest -- unless you're Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips and your dog is the one-eyed rescue, Lillian.
  • A Zombie Containment Unit
    Outside of "The Walking Dead," you won't find one of these anywhere -- let alone another music fest.
    Kim Bellware/The Huffington Post
    Outside of "The Walking Dead," you won't find one of these anywhere -- let alone another music fest.
  • Zombies On The Loose
    No one was safe -- not even outside.
    Joseph Erbentraut/The Huffington Post
    No one was safe -- not even outside.
  • John Stamos Artwork
    John Stamos has apparently become something of an unofficial mascot of Riot Fest; last year featured a <a href="http://www.dn
    Kim Bellware/The Huffington Post
    John Stamos has apparently become something of an unofficial mascot of Riot Fest; last year featured a bust of the good-looking actor carved out of butter. This year, his likeness was captured by a chainsaw woodworking artist.
  • An Arcade For Charity
    Proceeds from the Emporium Arcade and Bar <a href="http://www.chicagohomeless.org/cch-partners-riot-fest/" target="_blank">be
    Joseph Erbentraut/The Huffington Post
    Proceeds from the Emporium Arcade and Bar benefited the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. The arcade also offered a raffle featuring autographed gear from many of the festival's headliners.
  • Vintage Carnival Rides...
    High-flying action, bright colors and a slight measure of dread: That's the Riot Fest vintage carnival in a nutshell.
    Kim Bellware/The Huffington Post
    High-flying action, bright colors and a slight measure of dread: That's the Riot Fest vintage carnival in a nutshell.
  • Bumper Cars Included!
    Frustrated after someone bumped into you and made you spill your $7 beer? These bumper cars gave festival-goers a helpful out
    Joseph Erbentraut/The Huffington Post
    Frustrated after someone bumped into you and made you spill your $7 beer? These bumper cars gave festival-goers a helpful outlet.
  • Snowball Fights
    Chicagoans can pretend they've never seen snow in September... but they probably have.
    Kim Bellware/The Huffington Post
    Chicagoans can pretend they've never seen snow in September... but they probably have.
  • Camouflaged Creepers
    They're gonna getcha!
    Joseph Erbentraut/The Huffington Post
    They're gonna getcha!
  • Acrobats A-Plenty
    A crowd gathered on the festival grounds' northern end to admire this duo's strengths.
    Joseph Erbentraut/The Huffington Post
    A crowd gathered on the festival grounds' northern end to admire this duo's strengths.
  • Ferris Wheels (That's Right, Wheels)
    Riot Fest revelers enjoyed not just one, but (new this year) <i>two</i> Ferris wheels overlooking the festival's main stages.
    Joseph Erbentraut/The Huffington Post
    Riot Fest revelers enjoyed not just one, but (new this year) two Ferris wheels overlooking the festival's main stages.

Riot Fest continues on Sept. 19-21 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver.