A land of snow-capped mountains, river-carved canyons, and loose marijuana legislation, Colorado is one hell of a place indeed, and lives up to its state motto "Nothing without providence." The latest example: Frozen Dead Guy Days Festival in Nederland, Colorado.
The name isn't remotely a joke. Just 16 miles from Boulder and 45 miles from Denver, the small town of under 1,500 people throws a festival every year to honor the frozen corpse of Bredo Morstoel, whose corpse resides in a dry-ice-packed shed in the town. The festival runs for three days, attracts more than 20,000 people a year dressed in skeleton makeup and Halloween costumes, and features musical performances, a frozen salmon toss, a very literal parade of hearses, and a coffin race where teams carry their "dead" friends to a finish line in a coffin. Frankly, it all looks fucking awesome.
"It's a very kid-friendly environment," Alex Barber of Denver told The Daily Camera. "This is a community that prides itself in self expression and youthful approval to life."
A local poet named Marcus If was asked this year to lend his work to the festival. As he put it, "Wine, cheese, poetry; what else do you need?"
The festival has run for the last 16 years and is currently managed by local events promoter Amanda McDonald, who bought the rights to it from Morstoel's family six years after it started. By practically all accounts, it's a lively, cold, fun-filled celebration with a concept unlike almost any other in the country. If any of that speaks to you, make plans to travel to Colorado next year, or hit up any of the other weirdest festivals in America.
The Morstoel family still pays for their grandfather's corpse's upkeep in Nederland. Morstoel died and was cryogenically frozen in 1989 with the hope that one day technology might progress to the point where his body might be revived. He was moved to a facility in California for four years before his grandson, Trygve Bauge, moved him to his Nederland property in 1993. His body's been kept frozen solid in a sarcophagus in his grandson's shed for the last 24 years.
One intrepid man named Brad Wickham, 59, is paid to haul 1,000 pounds of dry ice up to Bredo Morstoel's shed every two weeks to make sure his body stays frozen. As he told Reuters: "There are a lot of scientists studying cryogenics, but I’m just a guy with a truck and a strong back," he said.