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They may not be the largest or the most prominent ball-eating event, TJ told me over the phone in the weeks leading up to the festival, but they are the most family-friendly.He said that he and his wife, Tifini, who now run the bar and festival together, wanted to make sure their community had a place where anyone could afford to celebrate their fathers.According to , the tradition of eating testicles in spring is common, at least in pastoral communities where cattle farming is a way of life.There, in keeping with the tradition of honoring the Earth and its inhabitants, nothing goes to waste, including in spring when young cattle are branded and castrated.My tasting experience is limited to bull nuts, testicles shorn from male cows in spring so their testosterone levels remain relatively low, leaving the animals relatively placid and their meat tender enough to sell at market.(No, you can’t call them Rocky Mountain oysters, one testicle enthusiast explained to me—that term is reserved exclusively for pig nuts.) But years ago, the Testicle Festival showcased a menagerie of animal testicles: beef, pork, lamb, and, more unexpectedly, turkey.Eventually, his party grew from a few hundred attendees to upward of thirty-seven hundred—some years they have even hired headlining country artists like Neal Mc Coy to perform.That the event came to be held over Father’s Day weekend speaks mostly to Ron’s bawdy sense of humor, but it’s also helped the Ashland Testicle Festival find a counterintuitive niche.
But observing the ongoing spate of high-profile sexual-assault cases as they play out on the national stage has left me more than a little paranoid about my interactions with men, to the extent that I find myself struggling with an unsettling contradiction: I am certain now, intellectually and emotionally, that men are structurally advantaged to a toxic extent in this country—but can I really dismiss 50 percent of the population based on a designation they had no say in being born into?
How should I feel when a formidably large male stranger is friendly?
Five years ago, I might have acquiesced, radiating in the unchecked affection and warmth of a stranger, defaulting to trust rather than suspicion.
Chuck Palahniuk once wrote an essay about the selfsame event that opened with a woman slicked with whipped cream and chocolate pudding deep-throating a cowboy onstage, to an audience whooping like frenzied hyenas.
The cultural and historical origins of these events are humble by comparison.