<p>In 2008, the <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/american-festivals/">American Festivals Project</a> headed south to Banner Elk, North Carolina, to attend the annual Woolly Worm Festival, an autumn event in which thousands of contestants race woolly worms, fuzzy caterpillars also known as banded woolly bears.</p> <p>The winning worm is said to forecast the weather for the coming season. A woolly worm's body has 13 segments—each corresponding to a week in winter. If a segment is light brown, that means the week will be mild. If a segment is black, that means a harsh, cold week.</p> <p>Here, a contestant shows off her competing caterpillar, a woolly worm that would appear to predict plenty of mild weeks ahead.</p> <p>Read more about the Woolly Worm Festival from the <a href="http://americanfestivalsproject.net">American Festivals Project blog</a>.</p>

Woolly Worm

In 2008, the American Festivals Project headed south to Banner Elk, North Carolina, to attend the annual Woolly Worm Festival, an autumn event in which thousands of contestants race woolly worms, fuzzy caterpillars also known as banded woolly bears.

The winning worm is said to forecast the weather for the coming season. A woolly worm's body has 13 segments—each corresponding to a week in winter. If a segment is light brown, that means the week will be mild. If a segment is black, that means a harsh, cold week.

Here, a contestant shows off her competing caterpillar, a woolly worm that would appear to predict plenty of mild weeks ahead.

Read more about the Woolly Worm Festival from the American Festivals Project blog.

Photograph by Ross McDermott, American Festivals Project

Woolly Worm Festival

See photos of the 2008 Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk, North Carolina, in this American Festivals Project travel photo gallery from National Geographic.

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