198 MAY/JUNE 2019 | BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM
Falls, Ohio, yet my identical twin, Allison
Engel, and I had never attended, despite
the fact that we’re extremely close. We
;nally managed to get there last August,
when we showed up for the 43rd annual
Twins Day Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio.
It was an eye-popping extravaganza
of 1,466 sets of multiples, nearly all
dressed identically to their siblings.
Except for look-alike coats handed
down from our two older sisters, we
stopped dressing alike as toddlers.
(We’re 67.) To blend in at the festival,
we’d found matching blouses at Macy’s
and straw hats on Canal Street in
Manhattan. I live in Bethesda, and
Allison divides her time between
California and Iowa, but we talk almost
daily and were together in New York City
a few weeks before the festival.
In the 90-degree Ohio heat, that was
enough of a costume for us. We didn’t
dress according to the year’s game
theme (think Scrabble tiles, Twister
mats, Rubik’s cubes), but it was a
delight to see the hundreds who did.
Twins arrived from Australia, China,
India, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Iceland,
Congo, Israel and Romania, among
other countries, and shopped for T-shirts
that read: “I love my womb mate” or
“I’m the favorite.” We ran into 37-year-
old identical twin broadcasters from
Baltimore, both wearing Orioles jerseys,
and 55-year-old ministers—dressed as
H.G. Wells time travelers—who laughed
at the same time.
The entire weekend festival was
a hoot, with a Double Take parade, a
group photo, a Royal Court crowning
and a talent show. There were huge
lines to get into the booths at the Twins
Research patio, where Allison and I ;lled
out surveys, provided DNA samples, got
photographed, endured taste tests (to
see if twins tasted sweet and sour items
the same way) and had our ;ngerprints
Researchers from the FBI and West
Virginia University conducted facial
recognition and ;ngerprint studies—
twins’ prints can be a challenge because
they are often nearly identical—
and hospital representatives studied
aging. (Twins volunteer for the studies
after signing release forms.) We were
rewarded with $115 cash and swag, like
$30 face creams from Olay.
After talking to dozens of people, our
own unscienti;c conclusion was that
multiples tend to talk alike and use the
same hand gestures, frequently live
together (or close by) and often have
identical careers. We ran into pairs of
English teachers, American Airlines crew
members, Procter & Gamble product
managers, biomedical engineers and
sports coaches, all identical twins.
Waiters Keoki and Cory Talley of Niles,
Ohio, used to work each other’s shift
to give themselves extra vacation time.
After two years, they got caught, and
now they have to work the same shift.
As twins roamed the festival grounds
meeting other sets of twins, we heard
the same question repeatedly: “Are you
Twin A or Twin B?” Twin A is the ;rstborn.
Twin B is supposedly less dominant.
Many twins ;nished each other’s
sentences and walked with identical
gaits. We saw octogenarian twins being
greeted by hipster twins they knew from
There were “most alike” and “least
alike” competitions for various ages,
all judged by twins. I convinced Allison
to enter the “most alike” contest with
me, even though we’re hardly mirror
images, so we could meet other pairs.
As predicted, we didn’t win, but we did
receive a “participation” ribbon. We
got to meet Verna and Viola Mueller,
86-year-old Mennonite twins from Willow
Street, Pennsylvania, who handed out
copies of their motto: “You can only
make a good impression once, but we
make it twice.”
Also at the festival were 25 pairs
of twins who volunteered to join the
wedding party of two sets of identical
BY MARGARET ENGEL
w Ohio, used to work each other’s shift
Writer Margaret Engel (left)
and her twin sister, Allison,
at the Twins Day Festival