You can’t visit Boston without getting a Boston Cream Pie, or Buffalo without getting Buffalo wings, or Hookersville without getting a…uh, you get the point.
But one local food dish isn’t enough. We need an entire food festival. So we’re eating our way across the country this summer not in search of the best local foods, but the best local summer food festivals. We’re hungry, so let’s go:
Salmonstock, August 2-4 in Ninilchik has all the good things of Woodstock, but without the hippies and with better food (and better smells).
SalsaFest in mid September in Safford.
Hope Watermelon Festival on August 10 in Hempstead County.
By the time we make it to California we’re full, but too bad because some of our favorite food festivals in the country are here:
First, the Gilroy Garlic Festival July 26-28. On August 17, we’ll be eating our way around the Bay area, starting at San Francisco Street Food Festival, then checking out the first Halal Food Fest in Newark.
Loaf N’ Jug Chile and Frijoles Festival from Sept. 23-25 in Pueblo is our choice for amazing food that has a kick. Telluride Mushroom Festival (August 15-18) is our choice for green food that grows in poop.
Oyster Festival in Norwalk, September 6-8
Newark Food and Brew Fest in Newark, July 27
The Safeway Barbecue Battle June 22-23 will bring crowds of tourists to Pennsylvania Ave like…well, like every other day of the year.
Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival (Mullet, as in the fish, not the super-stylish haircut, unfortunately) October 18-20 in Niceville.
Apple Pickin’ Jubilee in Ellijay runs every weekend Sept 07-Oct 27. It’s less of a food festival then a festival with food, but we really want their apple cider donuts, so we don’t care..
Like you need to use a food festival as an excuse to visit Hawaii. We’re going to have to wait until next year for this one, but the Maui Onion Festival each May is worth it. Until then, I guess you’ll either have to come up with some other reason to visit Hawaii, or check out the Okinawan Festival, in Honolulu.
Summer Sampler Food Festival on June 27 in Sandpoint. Yea, I know. You all wanted a potato festival. But no one in Idaho does. But the festival is a sample of foods of all kinds, so I’m sure there’s gotta be a potato in something if it’ll make you happy.
There’s just no way to not mention A Taste of Chicago. The festival has shriveled up in the past few years, but it’s still one of the biggest food festivals in the country. If you’re looking for something different, wait until next summer for Ribfest in early June.
Pierogi Fest in Whiting from July 26-28 will have to do a lot to top last year’s record 92-pound pierogi!
Lisbon Sauerkraut Days, Aug 8-10 in Lisbon, IA. We love quirky, and we’re really looking forward to this, especially since it comes right after another quirky Eastern Iowa food festival: Salon Beef Days, July 19-20
Spinach Festival in Lenexa on September 10. Spinach dishes sounds disgusting enough, but spinach desserts too?
Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown from September 13-18. It’s got food, but you’ll probably be too drunk from the bourbon to notice. Fortunately, we don’t drink.
Louisiana Watermelon Fest in Farmerville from July 25-27 isn’t the only watermelon festival in Louisiana, or even the US, but it’s the only one with Miss Louisiana in it, so we’ll see you there.
Maine gets no love from tourists in the winter, but it’s the place to be in the summer. Aside from the perfect weather and stunning vistas, here are three stomach-stretching reasons why:
- Egg Festival – July 15-20 in Pittsfield. I usually only use 3-4 eggs for breakfast, but they’ll be using a 300-pound frying pan for theirs.
- Maine Lobster Festival July 31-August 4 in Rockland: 20,000 pounds of lobster = 20,000 more reasons to drive up.
- Blueberry Festival – August 16-18 in Machias.
Maryland’s all about crabs, but first we wanna see the world’s biggest kabob (who doesn’t?). So:
The Muslim Food Fest this Saturday, June 22 at the Islamic Society of Baltimore will break the Guiness Book of World Record by creating a 46-foot-long beef kabob! There will also be dozens of vendors with food from across the Muslim World from Morocco to Malaysia.
We’ll be back later in the summer for the Maryland Seafood Festival September 7-8 at Sandy Point State Park.
Corn & Tomato Festival in Concord on August 17.
National Cherry Festival, June 29-July 6 in Traverse City.
Corn on the Cob Days, Aug. 19 in Plainview.
Slugburger Festival in Corinth from July 7-9. We have no idea what a slugburger is; we’re too scared to ask, but as long as it’s deep fried, it really doesn’t matter to us.
Unfortunately for everyone, Testicle Festival ended June 1 where the main attraction (or turnoff) is fried turkey testicles. But rejoice, another great, classy Missouri food festival, the Hillbilly BBQ Food Festival, is still weeks away (August 3-4).
Huckleberry Festival from August 9-11 in Trout is probably the only place where “Huckleberry Pie” means “Huckleberry Pizza.”
Riverfest: Red, White & Que in Bellevue from July 19-20 is the state’s BBQ Championship of our nation’s fattest sport.
Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off August 28-Sept 2.
Pumpkin Festival in Keene on October 19. Even though it’s late in the season, it’s better than the earlier alternative in Keene: the annual Zucchini Festival: pumpkin pie > zucchini pie.
Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival from July 25-28. It was on Food Network which means expensive network people will be there which means expensive food will be there which means…we probably won’t there.
Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival August 31-September 1 in Buffalo, birthplace of the Buffalo Wing; there was really only one choice for NY food fests.
Organic Fest September 8 in Asheville. Of all the food fests with all the amazing, greasy, fatty, artery-clogging food that stops your heart faster than Kate Upton in a Ravens jersey, this is the food festival we’re looking forward to the most, and the one that might save our lives between lard-fried buffalo wings.
Nue’ta Corn Festival, mid-August (exact date not posted yet) in Mandan featuring Native American food and culture.
Sweet Corn Fest, August 28-31 in Millersville.
If you’ve ever looked at a US map and wondered “what the heck is in Oklahoma?” the answer is food festivals. Start off with the:
- World’s Largest Calf Fry Festival & Cook-Off, August 15 in Vinita, with 2,000 pounds of calf fries! Which sounds incredible until you find out calf fries are bulls’ testicles.
- National Indian Taco Championship in early October in Pawhuska is what Thanksgiving would be if the Indians had dinner with the Mexicans instead of the Pilgrims. Tacos > Turkeys.
- Vinita Tabouleh Fest and the Fried Onion Burger Day Fest are over until next May, but we’ll be the first ones in line.
The Bite of Oregon, Aug. 9-11 in Portland, is the city’s version of the Taste of Chicago that a dozen other US cities host, just with a skillfully disguised name. But the real food festival we’re looking forward to in Oregon is the Indian Style Salmon Bake Festival in Depoe Bay City Park on September 21.
Pittston Tomato Festival in Pittston from August 18-21. You say tomato; I say TOMATO FIIIIIIIIGHT! $5 buys you unlimited tomato ammo. It’s more of a food fighting festival than a food eating festival.
Rhode Island Seafood Festival, September 15 in Providence.
The top chefs at Euphoria, from September 26-29 in Greenville, not only cook up food, but teach how to make food as well.
Spirit of the West Fest in Sioux City in mid-September showcases all things and foods from the old west (unfortunately not at the same price though).
Music City Hot Chicken Festival, July 4 in Nashville, is our 4th of July spot. The day’s food is more explosive than the nighttime fireworks.
Don’t expect an organicfest or vegetable harvest feast here. In honor of the state that gave us Texas Pete, we’re braving the Houston Hot Sauce Festival from September 21-22.
Park City Food and Wine Festival, July 10-14, and then we patiently wait 5 months to go skiing.
Garlic and Herb Festival, August 31-September 1 in Bennington. You may not want to talk to us for the next couple of days.
Of all the Summer Peach Festivals in Virginia, we’re picking the one with the most scenic drive through through Shenandoah Valley in Winchester from August 10-16.
Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival in Walla Walla from 20-21 because the Garlic and Herb Festival wasn’t enough stink for our breath, and because we like saying Walla Walla.
Roadkill Cook-off Festival, September 28 in Marlinton, because 3-day old roadkill is probably healthier to eat than hormone-pumped meat from the supermarket (it’s not actually 3-day old roadkill…maybe only 2 days old).
Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival, May 31-June 2 in Little Chute. Many other states will try to take credit for the great American cheese festival (nice try Vermont), but there’s only one state that deserves it.
We’re cheating. The Cheyenne Frontier Days from July 19-28 isn’t a food fest—it’s a 4-day festival celebrating rodeo Western culture—but it’s got Indian tacos, free pancake breakfasts, Native American and ole’ campfire food, all while watching a tradition that most Americans will only see clips of in John Wayne movies.