Results have been analysed from a three-year Australian Research Council (ARC) Festivals Project, which sought to document the extent and significance of festivals for rural communities and economies. Rural festivals have proliferated and diversified in recent years from the traditional country show to evermore whacky niches -- the Guyra Lamb and Potato Festival, the Wooli Goanna Pulling Festival, the Thoona Latin American and Wheely Bin Festival and Parkes' Elvis impersonators festival. Are such festivals significant for rural communities in contrast to their apparent short-lived nature? The ARC festivals project sought to answer this question. The largest ever database of rural festivals in Australia was compiled with more than 2,800 participating festivals. And through subsequent postal surveys (with 480 festivals in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania) and collaborative research partnerships for qualitative research with rural festivals in Daylesford (Victoria), Parkes (NSW), Bermagui (NSW) and Inverell (NSW), insights were gleaned on the ability of festivals to catalyse social and community development, to generate regional income and to challenge or sustain rural cultural identities.