From coast to coast and everywhere in between, food festivals are a fantastic way to explore ingredients and cuisines. New festivals pop up every year, but some have been going on for decades. No matter what the season, there’s a food festival happening somewhere.
We’ve put together a year’s worth of enticing food festivals, from January through December. Even if you can’t travel to any of these events, hopefully they will encourage you to check out local food festivals.
January: Oregon Truffle Festival
Truffles aren’t just a European delicacy; four species of truffles are native to Oregon. The Oregon Truffle Festival includes the opportunity to hunt truffles with specially-trained truffle dogs. Like most food festivals focused on a particular ingredient, you can also sample culinary masterpieces featuring truffles.
February: Carolina Chocolate Festival
Valentine’s Day may be the highlight of February for chocolate lovers. The Carolina Chocolate Festival kicks off with a dinner and charity auction, followed by a 5K fun run and walk the next morning. Two days of chocolate-focused festivities include hourly pudding eating contests and a grand prize giveaway: a trip to Hershey Park.
March: Mardi Gras
From beignets to gumbo and king cake to jambalaya, there’s no better time to eat your way through New Orleans than the annual Mardi Gras celebration. The date changes from year to year, but in 2019, Mardi Gras will be on March 5. Whether you avoid or embrace the debauchery, don’t forget your appetite.
April: Ka’u Coffee Festival
Looking for an excuse to take a luxurious vacation? Head to the Ka’u Coffee Festival on the big island of Hawai’i. Not only does this festival feature plenty of coffee sampling and coffee-based cuisine, you can also learn about the industry and infrastructure that support this essential morning beverage.
May: California Strawberry Festival
California is known for its strawberry fields that stretch from San Diego to San Francisco. The California Strawberry Festival is held in Oxnard, north of Los Angeles. It’s been going on for 35 years, and features many of the same attractions as a state fair: music, rides, arts and crafts, and tons of delicious food, with strawberries as the main attraction.
June: Georgia Peach Festival
For more sweetness, head east in June for the Georgia Peach Festival. While California and South Carolina grow more peaches, Georgia has been known for its peaches since the 1800’s. Enjoy the pageantry, entertainment, rides, and artisans, along with a 5K race, a golf tournament, and bushels upon bushels of peaches
July: Hopkins Raspberry Festival
The Hopkins Raspberry Festival is a tradition that has outlasted the fruit that sparked it. Hopkins is a suburb of the Minnesota Twin Cities that used to be home to raspberry fields and growers. The festival includes a kids’ fishing event, classic car show, and a “Running of the Bulls” race that resembles a cross between flag football and the hundred yard dash. It sounds like a lot of fun, even without an abundance of raspberries.
August: Maine Lobster Festival
Seafood lovers, plan ahead for next year’s Maine Lobster Festival. Maine has long been well-known for lobster, and the festival began as a way to resume celebratory traditions after World War II. Every year, around 20,000 pounds of lobster is cooked and eaten at the festival. Burn off all that butter in the Great International Lobster Crate Race. Try not to tumble into the ocean.
September: Great American Beer Festival
The famous Great American Beer Festival takes place in Denver. While Colorado may be home to Coors, this event features over 800 different brewers. Sample your way through more than 4,000 beers, one ounce at a time. Don’t forget to buy souvenir merchandise to commemorate this beer-a-palooza.
October: California Avocado Fest
Avocados might be the most well-loved item in the entire produce department. Head to the California Avocado Festival to enjoy this free festival with dozens of musical acts and free daycare for dogs. Still not impressed? AvoFest boasts the world’s largest vat of guacamole. Go dip a chip in it.
November: National Peanut Festival
Even if you didn’t know Dothan, Alabama is the Peanut Capital of the World, we bet you know about Dr. George Washington Carver. Dr. Carver spoke at the first National Peanut Festival in 1938. With a brief hiatus during World War II, the festival has celebrated this tiny but mighty legume each year. Go nuts for ten full days, all in honor of the peanut.
December: Indio International Tamale Festival
Wrap up the year with the Indio International Tamale Festival, near Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park in California. Come hungry, because this free festival includes tamale making and eating contests. Multiple stages feature live music all through both days of this hot-hot-hot festival.