February 21, 2010, 8:41 am
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For the past few years my two friends Ross McDermott and Andrew Owen have been traveling across the US seeking out and documenting bizarre and original festivals as part of their American Festivals Project. Last weekend a few friends of mine including Ross and Andrew returned to one of those festivals in Helvetia West Virginia for the annual Fasnacht celebration.

Helvetia, settled by Swiss immigrants in 1869, is known to maintain many of the traditions and celebrations brought by its original settlers one of which is Fasnacht, which from my understanding is a ritual celebration enacted to scare away old man winter and bring on the spring equinox. Obviously this involves wearing weird masks and going out into the darkness of night to drink heavily and have bonfires.

All photos and videos courtesy of American Festivals Project. I highly recommend visiting this site and seeing some of their great work and bizarre festivals they have documents across the US.