By, Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer to the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor
Originally published October 29, 2008
Fort Collins resident, Michael Gurriero, likes to have a good time and he has turned his passion for partying into a book called, “Party Across America! 101 of the Greatest Festivals, Sporting Events, and Celebrations in the U.S.” Originally from Pennsylvania, after college, Guerriero moved to Lake Tahoe to work a little and play a lot. While living in Tahoe, he and his friends would road trip back to the East Coast. To make the trip less daunting and a lot more entertaining, the group timed their trips with various festivals.
“We wanted to make it as much of a crazy, fun road trip across the country as possible. We would stop in random states and go to some sort of party or celebration that we’d found online or always wanted to go to,” stated Guerriero. These zigzagging cross-country trips set the backdrop for his future book.
“When it was time to get a real job I wanted to move somewhere with skiing and that’s how I ended up in Colorado,” said Guerriero. He went to work for Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company, but never lost his love of a good party.
“I was at the Memphis Blues Festival in 2006, for my bachelor party. I remember sitting there, at a barbeque joint, and the idea just kind of hit me. What if I made a guide to the best celebration in the U.S.?” said Guerriero.
His idea for the party guide continued to simmer, and then, in May 2008, Guerriero was laid off. He used this unfortunate circumstance to his advantage and began working relentlessly to turn his passion for the party book into a reality. Clearly Guerriero been to a lot of parties and celebrations, so experience wasn’t a problem, however one small issue stood in his way – he was not a writer, but he wasn’t about to turn his back on his party book epiphany.
“I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I was sort of like someone who liked playing softball but never tried out for the team,” said Guerriero. “I put together a proposal, got a book on agents and started sending out the proposal.” Many agents told Guerriero to “jump in a lake” because of his lack of writing experience, but one agent liked the idea and decided to take a chance on Guerriero.
Guerriero used a three-part formula to decide what events would be included in the book. “The energy level of the event had to be through the roof, with people looking forward to the event all year long. Attendance played a role; most of the events in the book are attended by thousands. The third is the uniqueness of the event. And a lot of it had to do with whether I got to the event and how much I enjoyed it,” said Guerriero.
The Gasparilla Pirate Festival held each January in Tampa, Florida, is Guerriero’s favorite festival in the book. “The largest, fully functioning pirate ship in the world comes sailing into Tampa Bay and it is just nuts. The mayor of Tampa comes aboard and surrenders the keys to the city – it’s recreating an actual event that happened,” he explained. “From there it’s a 500,000 person parade from the bay down the longest continual sidewalk in the U.S. Once the parade hits downtown Tampa it’s craziness all night. It was a blast.”
The book includes huge events, such as the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, and obscure events like the Testicle Festival in Clinton, Montana. Each event in the book is summarized and includes ticket prices, where to stay, how to get there, what to pack and party tips.
The publishing of the book is well timed; 55% of U.S. residents say they will take fewer trips in 2009, than they have in the past, and 67% of U.S. residents say they will only take weekend trips instead of the standard two week vacation. This past summer, the word “Staycation” has been used frequently. It refers to a vacation closer to home and the popularity of these “staycations” has risen due to high gas prices and economic hardships.
For Coloradoan’s planning to stay close to home this coming year, Guerrioro highlights five Colorado festivals and several in surrounding states. And even if you can’t make it to the Punkin Chunkin World Championships, held in Bridgeville, Delaware each November, you can take an armchair tour of the somewhat messy, and comical event by reading “Party Across America! 101 of the Greatest Festivals, Sporting Events, and Celebrations in the U.S.”
Check your local bookstore, or buy this book at www.Amazon.com.