The Best Food Festival in Every State
Every state has its share of famous and fabulous foods. Check them out with our guide to the very best food fests across the country. Road trip, anyone?
Whistle Stop Festival, Irondale
This town made fried green tomatoes famous with its Irondale Whistle Stop Cafe, and in early May for nearly three decades now, the people of Irondale celebrate that Southern delicacy during the Whistle Stop Festival. Come for the food vendors, arts and crafts, live music and fireworks, then try this fried green tomatoes recipe at home.
Kodiak Crab Festival, Kodiak
The Kodiak Crab Festival has been produced annually by the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce since 1958 as a celebration of the “abundant resources” that the town reaps from the sea. If you can’t make it there in late May to taste Alaska’s fine seafood offerings, you can still make these classic crab cakes in your own kitchen.
Taco Festival, Scottsdale
The “mighty taco” gets top billing at Arizona’s annual Taco Festival, which takes place in October. The taco festival includes a vast array of exciting experiences, including taco tastings, taco eating contests, taco-themed games for kid, and a Chihuahua beauty pageant. While you’re waiting for October, try these Taco Tuesday recipes.
Love pickles? Then mark your calendar for mid-May and come on down to Arkansas’ annual Picklefest. It began in 1945 when the Goldsmith Pickle Company invested $75,000 to build a pickle plant in Atkins. The festival features pickle juice-drinking and pickle eating contests. In the meantime, try this recipe for Grandma’s dill pickles.
Gluten Free and Allergy Expo, Denver
Whether you’re looking for prepared specialty foods that meet special dietary needs or learning how to cook them yourself, the Gluten Free and Allergy Expo is the place to be. It’s touring the entire country, but you can catch it in April. Get yourself started right now with some of our favorite gluten-free recipes.
Sun BBQFest, Uncasville
At the Sun BBQFest you can get your barbecue on while trying your “hand” at blackjack, roulette, and the slots…because this food festival will take place come June, right at the Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort, Plus, a portion of the proceeds benefit Operation BBQ Relief and its mission to provide hot meals to people who have been affected by disasters across the United States.
Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival,
If you love chocolate (and seriously, who doesn’t?), you won’t want to miss the Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival, a fabulous day of chocolate that takes place in March, featuring tastings, vendors, a raffle, and the festival’s highlight: a chocolate baking contest. Get practicing with our top 10 chocolate recipes.
Florida Seafood Festival, Apalachicola
The Florida Seafood Festival is Florida’s oldest seafood festival, and the focus is oysters. Taking place every autumn at the mouth of the Apalachicola River and highlighting the native Apalachicola oysters, it’s also an opportunity to “cheer on your favorite crustacean at a blue crab race.” Hungry for oysters right now? Here’s a superb recipe for oysters Rockefeller.
Georgia Peach Festival, Peach County
The Georgia Peach Festival honors peach growers for their contribution to Georgia’s economy and to the food industry nationwide. Lasting for one week every June, it attracts as many as 10,000 visitors including church groups, senior groups and charter bus tours, with events split evenly between Byron and Fort Valley—in the heart of Peach County. Here are our favorite ways to devour farm-stand peaches.
Hawaiian Food and Wine Festival,
the Islands of Hawaii, Maui and Oahu
Each year in the fall (and this year for almost the entire month of October), the Hawaiian Food and Wine Festival showcases more than 100 of the hottest chefs, winemakers and mixologists in the world and celebrates Hawaii’s history, people and culture. Including events on three islands, the festival manages to attract 25% of its guests from mainland US and abroad.
Idaho Spud Day, Shelley
While the huckleberry is officially Idaho’s state fruit, the annual Huckleberry Jam, celebrating this sweet, purple fruit is taking a hiatus this year. So if you’re looking for an iconic food festival destination in Idaho, head on over to Shelley, just south of Idaho Falls, for the 89th Annual Idaho Spud Day, celebrating (what else?!), the venerable potato, Idaho’s pride and joy produce.
Windy City Smokeout, Chicago
Considered one of the country’s premier barbecue, craft beer and country music festivals, the Windy City Smokeout (mid-July) features an array of top pit masters from Chicago and across the country to serve up an abundance of zesty barbecue favorites, from tri-tip to brisket. More than 45,000 enthusiastic guests are expected to attend. Even if you’re not one of them, here are some barbecue sauces you can try making at home.
Valparaiso Popcorn Festval, Valparaiso
If you love popcorn, them you’ll want to “pop” on over to the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival in September. This long-standing community tradition is in its 39th year, features over 250 arts and crafts booths, 35 food booths, a five mile Popcorn Panic race, and the nation’s first Popcorn Parade. In the mood for popcorn? Don’t miss these “pop”-ular popcorn recipes.
The Wurst Festival, Amana
Here are 25 food festivals recommended by the Des Moines Register. Having trouble deciding which one is best? Then why not try the Wurst? The Wurst Festival is held in June in the Amana Colonies as an homage to all things sausage and features sausage makers from around the state (as well as sausage education, care of Wurst University).
Capital City Family &
Food Truck Festival, Topeka
While Kansas always seems to remind us there’s no place like home, there’s a certain food truck festival in Topeka that promises to remind us good food is nevertheless available on-the-go. The fourth annual Capital City Family & Food Truck Festival features super-creative take-away, including the not-to-be-missed Fayetteville Beaver Tails and the Jamaican Jerk Plate from Snouthern’s.
International Bar-B-Q Festival,
The 40th Annual International Bar-B-Q Festival takes place the second weekend in May and promises to provide all the barbecue feels from its “sizzling chicken, bubbling burgoo and roasting mutton.” Don’t know your way around a burgoo? Check out this recipe and learn how to do it authentic Kentucky style.
The State Fair of Louisiana, Shreveport
The Louisiana state fair is not just a way to celebrate agrarian culture in the Bayou State, but also a chance to sample Louisiana’s own unique food culture, including crawfish and crab boudin, fried craw fish, gators and taters, and grilled bacon-wrapped shrimp-on-a-stick. Check out these crawfish recipes you can try at home.
Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland
The Maine Lobster Festival, now in its 70th year, is held on Maine’s midcoast during the first week of August. “What started as an idea for a local marine festival to revive [midcoast] communities has turned into an internationally recognized celebration of local seafood,” the website says. Making your own lobster dinner is easier than you think. Here’s how to do it, step by step.
National Hard Crab Derby, Crisfield
You don’t necessarily have to go to Kodiak, Alaska to partake in a crab-themed festival. If you’re closer to Maryland, check out the National Hard Crab Derby this Labor Day weekend. Crisfield’s annual crab-themed festival feature crab races, crab cooking and picking contests, live entertainment, a Miss Crustacean pageant and a boat docking contest. It closes with a gospel concert and fireworks.
Wellfleet OysterFest, Wellfleet
The Wellfleet OysterFest, has the distinction of being a sustainable oyster festival. One thing you won’t have to worry about is where the with oyster shells go after you’ve enjoyed the many oyster dishes, the oyster shucking competition, and a Shuck n’ Run 5K race. At the end, all shells go back to the ocean to restore oyster habitats in Cape Cod.
National Cereal Festival, Battle Creek
Here are 13 Michigan food festivals that sound amazing, but if we have to pick just one, we’re going with the National Cereal Festival, which takes place in June in Battle Creek, home of Kellogg’s. The fun begins with the Cereal City Grand Cereal Parade through downtown and continues on with the World’s Longest Breakfast Table on its way to cheering on the most important meal of the day.
Vardaman Sweet Potato Festival,
The annual sweet potato festival takes place annually in November at several locations throughout town, which calls itself the “Sweet Potato Capital of the World.” This festival promises a wealth of sweet potato prepared every which way. Get yourself in the mood with these delicious, nutritious sweet potato recipes.
Mushroom Festival, Richmond
When you think of Missouri, do you think of mushrooms? Well, as a matter of fact, Richmond is the self-proclaimed “Mushroom Capital of the World” and home of an annual mushroom fest that’s almost four decades old. The fun takes place in may and features a fresh mushrooms, contests, crafts and a tractor pull.
Taste of Bigfork, Bigfork
Where else but Montana can you get a taste of Bigfork? Literally. The Taste of Bigfork festival takes place annually in April in its namesake town and features food, wine and music samplings from local eateries, and it benefits Habitat for Humanity, Bigfork Schools Music Department, and the Bigfork Area Chamber of Commerce.
Taste of Omaha, Omaha
They don’t call it the Taste of Omaha for nothing. Omaha has a tremendous reputation for fantastic food and fantastic eateries, say the organizers of this annual food festival, now in its 20th year, which celebrates the good taste that the city has to offer, as well as nationally famous entertainers. Head there in early June.
Springs Preserve Ice Cream
Festival, Las Vegas
We scream for the Springs Preserve Ice Cream Festival, and if you’re a fan of ice cream cones, sundaes, root beer floats and the like, you will too (and we all will, so the saying goes). You’ll also be adjacent to Springs Preserve, the premier place in Las Vegas to explore the valley’s vibrant history.
Here’s how to make ice cream at home.
Chowder Festival, Portsmouth
The oldest chowder festival in New England takes place in Portsmouth’s Prescott Park in early June. The Annual WOKQ Chowder Festival is “a staple of summer,” the organizers proclaim, and it starts early and keeps going strong for as long as the chowder lasts. Try one of these chowder recipes in the meantime (but don’t even think of mentioning “tomatoes” in the same sentence as “chowder” in New Hampshire).
Annual Blueberry Festival, Browns Mills
Every year, New Jersey celebrates its state fruit with the Annual Blueberry Festival and Celebration of the Birthplace of the Blueberry. This year, the festival will be held in June for two days in Whitesbog Village and features blueberry picking, a blueberry art show, blueberry baked goods, a blueberry pie eating contest and a variety of activities highlighting New Jersey’s Pinelands culture. Check out our amazing blueberry recipes.
Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, Santa Fe
The state question of New Mexico is “red or green?” They’re talking about chili peppers, and you’ll be talking about them too after attending the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, featuring the culinary artistry found in the city’s many excellent restaurants coupled with the sophistication and wines of national wineries. Before you head out this September, why not catch up on our guide to peppers, from sweet to spicy.
Smorgasburg is the largest weekly open-air food market in America, attracting 20,000-30,000 people to Brooklyn each weekend to eat from 100 local (and quite often, hipster) vendors—all summer long in two locations (Saturdays on the Williamsburg waterfront and Sundays in Prospect Park).
Thinking of New York-style food? How about this festive New York style cheesecake?
North Carolina Strawberry Festival,
The North Carolina Strawberry Festival comes ’round every May, promising five days of food, events, parades, and floats, all celebrating strawberries in Chadbourn, which calls itself the Strawberry Capital of the World. Afterwards, you’ll be all set to try out these recipes to make with fresh strawberries!
Norsk Høstfest, Minot
Fact: One in three North Dakotans is of Norwegian heritage. So it makes sense that Norsk Høstfest, the biggest Scandinavian festival in the U.S., takes place here each September. The festival devotes one expo hall to each of the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Each country’s individual styles of food (as well as entertainment, art, clothing, and jewelry) will be yours for the tasting.
March Maple Madness
Driving Tour, statewide
The March Maple Madness Driving Tour, a statewide event sponsored by the Ohio Maple Producers Association and syrup makers across Ohio is more than a festival; it’s a road trip in and of itself. Spend a March day tasting what happens when sweet, clear, sap from native maple trees becomes golden, delicious, maple syrup. Afterwards, go home and make these amazing chocolate maple bars!
Frederick Fantastic Oyster Fry, Frederick
Here are 15 fantastic food festivals that take place in Oklahoma, all of which “combine small-town charm, community pride, local crops and homegrown delicacies.” But if it’s seafood you seek, don’t miss the oyster fry, which serves up “scrumptious, fresh oysters” to festival-goers seeking it fried, raw, on the half shell, and every other way you might imagine. Come armed with these surprising facts about oysters.
Feast Portland, Portland
If you head out to Portland for the Feast in September, you’re not only going to experience Oregon weather at its clearest, but also Pacific Northwest food at its finest. Events are scattered across town and are totally unique, including the Sandwich Invitational. To get you ready, find out which sandwich is best in your state.
Western Pennsylvania Farm to
Table Celebration, Pittsburgh area
If it’s April, then it’s time for the annual Western Pennsylvania Farm to Table Celebration, which highlights the very best in local farm-to-table foods. Find out about other locavores to taste homegrown goods and talk about healthy food and lifestyle choices.
Great Chowder Cook-off, Newport
Those on the hunt for great food and fun can find it all summer long all over Rhode Island, according to the Providence Journal. But if you’re curious about authentic New England-style clam chowder, then you’ll want to come to the Great Chowder Cook-off at Fort Adams State Park. The longest-running chowder competition in the nation features chowder entries from all over the world.
Fall for Greenville, Greenville
Fall for Greenville is a complete fall festival experience taking place in October, promising food and drinks from over 40 restaurants over three days, as well as 70 entertainment acts on seven stages. But you’ll want to come for the grits, the pralines, and the other local favorites, as cooked by the local chefs. Here are some classic Southern recipes for you to try at home.
Every year, thousands gather here to celebrate their German Heritage at the Schmeckfest, which is German for “festival of tasting.” It takes place over two weekends in March and brings together the culinary favorites of the three groups of ethnic Mennonites who settled in the Freeman area in the 1870s: the Low-German, the Swiss and the Hutterish.
Music City Hot Chicken Festival, Nashville
If you’ve never heard of “hot chicken,” then it’s time to learn about this decidedly not Buffalo style chicken that’s a Nashville favorite involving bread (not breading), a lot of spiciness (dry, not wet), and a healthy serving of pickles. Join locals and visitors alike to celebrate this local favorite on July 4th weekend at the annual Music City Hot Chicken Festival.
Austin Food and Wine Festival, Austin
Keep Austin weird, goes the slogan, but the Austin Food and Wine Festival aims to keep Austin delicious. It takes place in April and features not only the best of Austin’s foods and beverages but a top-notch lineup of entertainers. Don’t miss the Rock Your Taco event or the Gospel Brunch!
Savor the Summit, Park City
Each June, more than 2,500 people gather on Main Street for a gigantic dinner party that showcases Park City’s best restaurants. There’s live music, fantastic food, plenty of beverages, and a setting that’s second to none.
Garlic and Herb Festival, Bennington
Garlic lover? Try these garlicky recipes that were tailor-made for you. Then consider heading on over to Bennington’s Garlic and Herb Festival, which features everything garlic, from garlic ice cream to garlic jelly to pickled garlic to garlic braids. Sample it, and check out the garlic-cooking demonstrations at the end of the summer (dates to be announced).
Apple Day Festival, Millboro
Virginia’s state food is the apple, which you can celebrate at any of these 25 apple festivals that take place throughout the year. But we wanted to highlight the Apple Day Festival, offering a unique Appalachian cultural experience, with bluegrass music, hayrides, clogging and apple butter made by local cooks (as well as a full range of apple-based delectables, which hopefully include apple dumplings as good as these).
Pig Out in the Park, Spokane
Feel like pigging out? Then head on over to the 39th Annual Pig Out in the Park, which takes place on Labor Day weekend on the riverfront and features six full days of 250 menu items at 47 vendor booths. Admission is free, and it’s tobacco free as well!
Uniquely West Virginia Wine and
Food Festival, Berkeley Springs
If you want to taste food that’s uniquely West Virginia, you’ll want to check out the Uniquely West Virginia Wine and Food Festival in April. The festival’s been taking place for going on 24 years now and features West Virginia’s signature ramps, along with other state-grown products.
Wisconsin State Fair, West Allis
You may know that Wisconsin is “America’s Dairyland,” but did you know it’s basically the cream puff capital of the country? Wisconsin’s Original Cream Puff is a Wisconsin icon (with an average of 350,000 consumed each year at the state fair alone. But here’s a State Fair cream puff recipe that purports to do it justice! The fair takes place in early August.
Cheyenne Frontier Days, Cheyenne
An event that began as a cowboy roundup back in 1897 is now the destination for people of all walks of life. In the 21st century, the Frontier Days feature a chuck wagon cook-off, big pancake breakfasts, lots of old-timey Western fun, and the world’s biggest outdoor rodeo. See you the last week of July?