By Mike Miller April 1, 2023
Citizens of the ersatz village of Cockroach Bay, Florida, have always felt a bit embarrassed about the unfortunate name of their community.
In 1918, they came up with a way to turn this negative into a positive. They had the first festival celebrating the unpopular insect.
The event has caught on, and now Florida natives and newbies alike gather on April First each year in Cockroach Bay for the Florida Cockroach Festival.
This year's festival is the 100th gathering, making it one of the state's oldest annual celebrations.
Festival day begins fifteen minutes before sunrise with the "Light Up Cockroach Bay" ceremony.
All residents, motel guests, and business owners, turn on all the lights in their locations to watch the cockroaches scurry into their dark hiding places.
People take photographs of this pre-dawn phenomenon and awards are given out later in the day for the photo that captures the image of a cockroach disappearing into the most innovative hiding place.
Last year's award went to a photo of a cockroach entering the mouth of a sleeping calico cat.
The year before the winner was a photo of a roach scurrying into the spout of a tea kettle.
Prizes are also awarded for the largest living cockroach. Five years ago a contestant cheated by entering a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.
Festival organizers changed the rules so that entries are now limited to the eight species native to Florida.
Dr. Cory D. Blattodea, a renowned entomologist from the University of South Florida, is the judge for this contest.
The formal festival events begin at noon at the Cockroach Bay Fair Grounds with a Chili Cook Off.
Local restaurants are not permitted to enter this contest to that amateurs can have a chance to win this prestigious contest.
Music concerts begin at 3:00 pm at the fairgrounds pavilion with prizes being awarded for the most original cockroach themed musical instrument.
Unlike many modern rock concerts, roaches of the plant variety are not allowed on fairgrounds property.
Concerts are followed at 5:00 pm by the coronation of the Florida Cockroach King and Queen and the coronation is capped off by the Cockroach Parade.
The winners of the King and Queen contest are awarded a guaranteed guest appearance on the hit TV program "The Jerry Springer Show".
If that show goes out of business, another program, "The View", is being considered for a potential guest appearance.
If you have read this far, you know this article is an April Fool's Day spoof. There is no town of Cockroach Bay, but there is actually a real live beautiful place you can visit: