4.) Tiro Testicle Festival – May 19, 2013

In the quiet town of Tiro, Ohio…

…there’s a curious bar with an even more curious tradition that began 25 years ago.

Alan Cramer, then-owner of the Tiro Tavern (he unfortunately passed in April 2009), was visited by a local couple, Don and Rosie, who brought over a few pounds of pig and calf testicles to fry up and eat together.

Al enjoyed it so much, in fact, that he brought them to his bar to share with his customers and he continued doing this on the last Saturday of every April for years to come.

But what was once a few pounds turned into over 600 pounds every year for the locals, bikers from all over the state and beyond, and testicle aficionados…

…and it was called the Testicle Festival.

When I first heard about this festival, I can’t tell you how excited I was.  Only last year did I order calf fries for the first time in Vinita, Oklahoma (home of a Calf Fry Festival)…

…and finally realize that these tender, juicy morsels actually tasted like “oysters.”

So, of course, I wanted to go to the Testicle Festival for more!

Thanks to a change in this year’s scheduling (May instead of April) and adding Friday to create a two-day festival celebration, I was able to stop in Tiro en route to Columbus…

…where the rain and colder weather unfortunately kept many bikers away that evening (something I was hoping to see).

But even in the rainy cold, the festival started up behind the Tiro Tavern…

…with an entertainment stage…

…a beer truck…

…plenty of merchandise…

…and an eating/drinking area…

…where festival goers went after going here

…beyond this tape…

…passed this step-by-step testicle prep process…

…and to this table…

…where the oysters/fries/testicles in this bowl…

…turned into golden nuggets…

…that unfortunately tasted like overcooked liver in a lot of batter.

Thank God for Big Mike who shared his hot sauce.

But allow me to say three things in defense of the disappointing testicle-eating experience:

  1. It was at the very beginning of the fest, while they working out the kinks.
  2. When you have an in-your-face festival name like the Testicle Festival – a name that flaunts its novelty instead of using more euphemistic alternatives like “oysters” or “fries” – there may be less attention given to culinary detail (especially since many festival goers who consume them will be thoroughly intoxicated by the time they actually taste the finished product).
  3. They were free.  Who am I to complain?

Truth is, I enjoyed myself mostly because of the people there.  I met a great couple who shared some other Ohio locations I should visit (Indian Lake was mentioned many times), I got to talk with Big Mike who (along with the hot sauce) shared his knowledge of the festival and the people originally involved, and he even introduced me to Rosie mentioned at the beginning of this post.

So it was fun overall, even in the cold rainy weather!

I even bought a shirt!

But for any future festival goer that gets there and won’t be happy with only a few testicle nuggets…

…you need only go next door to the Tiro-Auburn Volunteer Fire Department

…where you’ll find plenty of sloppy joes, hot dogs…

…and sloppy dogs – for those who want them both together in messy deliciousness.

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6 Responses to 4.) Tiro Testicle Festival – May 19, 2013

  1. I think this fest might be worth a return visit when the weather is better and more people are there. What a crazy concept!!!

  2. Mike Rhonemus says:

    Is there anywhere one can purchase a t-shirt?

  3. Carolyn Leasure says:

    My first testicle festival was in Nebraska. Now, if these delicacies are fried up right they won’t taste like overcooked liver. Just don’t overcook & you should be good to go.

  4. Gloria says:

    Yes, it is important to not overcook!!! As a Nebraska native, we called them Rocky Mountain Oysters. They are like any other delicacy, they need to be prepared correctly.

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