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U.S. Food Festivals

Is there a food fest in your town? Which foods do we celebrate? Where and when? Why? I'm obsessed with celebrations of food, but my knowledge is limited. I just know there are killer food festivals all over the country, but i don't seem to know how to find them.
It could be anything from produce (tomatoes, squash, beets, berries, apples, potatoes) to meats (i'm sure there's a bacon/charcuterie fest somewhere) to accompaniments (honey seems like a likely candidate) to regional/ethnic specialties (tamales, perogies, donuts, what-have-you).
Where's the party?
Clue me in!

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  1. http://www.foodreference.com/html/lou...

    That's a link to all the food fests in Louisiana

    1. Great idea for a thread!

      Semi-locally (meaning the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia) we have the following festivals:

      In March there is Highland Maple Festival in Monterey, VA, highlighting maple sugar production in the Shenandoah Valley.

      There’s the Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival in Amherst, VA every October.

      The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is huge, but doesn’t seem to focus on food much anymore.

      Another is the Strawberry Festival in Roanoke, Va.

      Those are a few I can think of. There are lots more I'm sure!

        1. a favorite:
          swamp cabbage festival in labelle, florida. february every year.

          1. I just found this site which looks like a great reference (broken down by state and country!):

            1. There's the Napa Valley Mustard Festival, the Gilroy Garlic Festival, and an Artichoke Festival here California that I can think of. This is the time of year, there's community festivals every couple of weeks in San Francisco.....they're not "food" festivals per se, but you can usually find great food booths...

              1. In southern Connecticut, strawberry festivals are pretty common in the summer. Some towns do blueberry festivals, just to be different.
                There are also a few oyster festivals at the end of the summer. More common than this, though maybe not exactly a festival, is for volunteer fire departments, or other groups that need to raise funds, to have a clambake (though they often call it a lobster bake so that people know there will be lobster, and I guess technically it's a clam boil, as there is no pit involved).
                Come fall, there are a number of apple festivals. I vaguely remember a peach festival in the summer when I was younger, but I think that has died out.
                A lot of the Catholic churches have Italian festivals, catered by parishoners that own pizza places. There are quite a number of festivals at Orthodox churches of various nationalities from Greek to Russian to Albanian.

                3 Replies
                1. re: danieljdwyer

                  In my home state of Arkansas, the World Championship Steak cookoff in Magnolia was always a good time, and a huge Duck gathering in Stuttgart every year.

                  In my new hometown of Ruston, Louisiana, they are gearing up for next weekends Ruston Peach Festival.

                  1. re: jacobp

                    Good times at the peach festival as a kid!

                  2. re: danieljdwyer

                    My favorite Greek festival is In Hartford. Yum!

                  3. 44th annual Clam Festival in Yarmouth, ME, 7/17-19


                    62nd annual Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland, ME 7/29-8/2


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: HDinCentralME

                      I went to Rockland (Maine) Lobster Festival 2 years ago, what a fun time and during the parade, my husband and the other couple thought it would be a good idea to see if they could make it across the street before the Shriners little cars come through, it was so funny...

                      The Festival was well worth the hike from Bermuda! Wanted to go this year, but can't... :(

                      1. re: HDinCentralME

                        I am wearing my 1999 Yarmouth Clam Fest t-shirt as we speak!

                      2. Every September the Mushroom Festival is held in Kennett Square, PA, the self-proclaimed "Mushroom Capital of the World". http://www.mushroomfestival.org/

                        1. http://tilghmanmd.com/

                          Very Local, very downhome very good..lotta fun

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Hue

                            The weekend after Columbus day Weekend in October: The Wellfleet Oyster Festival!
                            It's a great old time block party with great food, crafts, music, and a shuck-off! Darn... I really shouldn't tell anybody....

                          2. One of the more unique food festivals you'll ever see is the PurpleHull Pea Festival & World Championship Rotary Tiller Race in Emerson, Arkansas. It's on the last Friday & Saturday in June. It also holds the "Great PurpleHull Peas & Cornbread Cook Off." Pretty good Web site, www.purplehull.com, complete with recipes.

                            1. For fresh water fish lovers, there's the Shad Festival every April in New Hope, PA along the Delaware River. All sorts of cook-offs and events. Fresh shad with a set of roe, wrapped in bacon and broiled is to die for.


                              1. Ooooh.... I got a crazy one :) Where I live, here in the Desert of Southern California, we have the Antelope Valley Fair & Alfalfa Festival. Great for if you like alfalfa sprouts, lol!

                                1. i just learned about this site for florida: http://www.florida-secrets.com/Florid...

                                  search by region and month.

                                  1. This seems like a good place to ask- has anyone ever been to the Mustard Festival each August in Wisconsin? I love mustard and Im wondering if its a worthwhile fest? :-)

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: fmcoxe6188

                                      I haven't been to the festival, but I have been to the Mustard Museum in Mt. Horeb.
                                      If you love mustard then it is worth a visit! I would think the festival would be great.


                                      1. re: meatn3

                                        I didnt know there was a museum! Thats great! Ill have to make a mustard pilgrimage-thanks!

                                        1. re: fmcoxe6188

                                          Half is a museum with a film IIRC. The other half is retail, with mustards from all over the world. When I was there you could request a taste of anything (within reason). I needed an extra shelf in my pantry after that visit. They also have a catalog and sell online.

                                          Mt. Horeb is a nice town to visit, so make a day of it!

                                          1. re: meatn3

                                            i just saw the mustard museum on food network's "unwrapped"....at least i think that was the show. it's a couple that runs the place? and they make commercial mustard, and also "personalized-label" mustards for folks?

                                            maybe i'm confused by the mustard fumes! ;-).

                                            1. re: alkapal

                                              I'm not sure either...but this link shows a photo of the founder, Barry Levenson. It also reports that the museum is moving from Mt. Horeb to Middleton (next to Madison) soon.


                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                the couple i saw was older. anyway, i thought this was funny from that article:
                                                ""For the final time, people will gather here Saturday on two closed-off blocks of Main Street to celebrate National Mustard Day. There will be free hotdogs with mustard — there's a $10 surcharge for those who dare to request ketchup — mustard painting and music by the Poupon U Accordion Band.""

                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  I got a grin from it too! You should see their catalog, it reflects that style humor!

                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    ROFL! I love the extra surcharge AND the band's name! (Always mustard on hot dogs and ketchup goes on burgers....but I know that's been discussed before so let's not get into it here!)

                                      2. This post includes information about a Native American food and fiber festival:


                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Tohono Rat

                                          food and fiber? where's the fiber part? do you mean basketry and weaving -- that sort of thing? which festival were you referring to specifically?

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            Yes, basketry. It is called the Celebration of Basketry and Native Foods Festival. It takes place in the Spring at the Tohono O'odham Nation Museum. A variety of both traditional Native cooks and the country's top Native chefs do cooking demonstrations and tastings. There is also an annual fundraising dinner at the 5-Diamond Ventana Room featuring Native American foods prepared in innovative ways.

                                            1. re: Tohono Rat

                                              i guess i missed your comment at the bottom 'cause it didn't link a site. in looking for a site for the event you mentioned, i looked at tucson's website. you have TONS of festivals and museums and activities there. wow!

                                              ps, are the tohono o'odham the folks who found/made cave drawings of dinosaurs?

                                        2. There's a great 'Gator Fest in Anahuac, TX. Rumor has it there are more gators in Anahuac than there are people. If you've never had fried gator it's yummy - tastes like chickin - seriously it does. Also, almost every town of any size in LA and TX have a crawfish festival in the late spring at the height of the season. I had never eaten a crawfish until I moved to Houston 8 years ago, and I was hooked immediately.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: cycloneillini

                                            Hatch chile fest. Hatch New Mexico Labor day weekend. It's when all chile are harvested. There're only around August and September

                                            1. re: cycloneillini

                                              cycloneillini, i'd say alligator tastes like a very, very big "chickin" ;-). it's rather "firm" in texture. how does it work in a gumbo or fish stew? i've only had the fried gator tail.

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                Not sure alkapal. I've only had it fried as well.

                                            2. Valparaiso, Indiana, once the residence of me and Orville Redenbacher (not in the same house!), boasts (naturally) a popcorn festival. This year's occurs on September 12. Good timing for your question!

                                              1. Pullman, Washington has the annual lentil fest celebrating all things lentil every August. Friday night on the street, the town brews up hundreds of gallons of lentil chili in a giant pot which the mayor stirs with a canoe paddle. It's actually very tasty. The following day is the lentil pancake feed followed by the legendary lentil cookoff. Good times.

                                                1. In West Virginia we celebrate ramps. There's a buckwheat festival in Preston County in the fall, the Strawberry Festival in the spring, and the Italian Heritage Festival on Labor Day weekend always has tons of great food.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: hariscruff

                                                    They come from all over, and it is the mecca of Chili. Terlingua. All CASI approved to enter and held November 7th this year. This is an amazing deal, and every enthusiast should attend at least once in his life. Has expanded to so much more than chili, too.

                                                    Frank X Tolbert was one of the founding members and his daughter carries the tradition and owns Tolberts Chili Parlour in Grapevine, TX.

                                                    Also, in Texas, do not miss New Braunfels answer to OctoberFest (which is traditionally held in November) WurstFest, October 30 through November 8, 2009. I remember the old days when Myron Floren (accordianist from Welk Show) would open ceremonies by floating on a raft down the Comal river playing a polka. This is a huge event that should not be missed.

                                                    Enjoy this ode to sausages in this quaint German community about midway between Austin and San Antonio. http://www.wurstfest.com/

                                                  2. The Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburgh, TN is not to be missed. Great cornbreads and a general "corny" atmosphere. The parking lot "bus" is a horse drawn hay ride! It's a real hoot! You can always visit the Lodge Cast Iron Foundry while you're there and stock up after being inspired with all that fabulous cornbread.

                                                    1. Not where I live, but in Southwest Florida, the LaBelle Swamp Cabbage Festival! (Swamp cabbage = hearts of palm)

                                                      1. Last of Sept. in Ky is the World Chicken Fest....in its 20th year.
                                                        More than 250000 attend each year.


                                                        1. Here in LA we have the San Generro feast coming up in about three weeks-then the Greek festival right after! Although it's not a "food festival" per se, The LA and OC fair are so filled with crazy food booths (chocolate-dipped bacon, anyone?) that plenty of people go with the sole intent of eating their way through.

                                                          1. There's still time to schedule your visit to the Marshmallow Fluff Festival!


                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                              The What the Fluff? Festival is the first one in this list of 11 New England-area food Festivals:


                                                              What the Fluff? Festival - Somerville, MA
                                                              Southington Apple Harvest Festival - Southington, CT
                                                              Jonathan Edwards Winery Harvest Fest - Stonington, CT
                                                              Stratton Mountain chili cookoff and brewfest - Stratton, VT
                                                              Mystic Seaport Chowderfest - Mystic, CT
                                                              National Cranberry Festival - Carver, MA
                                                              Foliage, Food, and Wine Festival - Blue Hill, ME
                                                              Wellfleet Oysterfest - Wellfleet, MA
                                                              Bowen's Wharf Seafood Festival - Newport, RI
                                                              Keene Pumpkin Festival - Keene, NH
                                                              Boston Vegetarian Food Festival - Boston, MA

                                                            2. The Greek Festival in Salt Lake City is coming up in the next few days.
                                                              It may seem unlikely, but SLC has some of the best Greek food i've had anywhere in the country.