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The seasonal climb to triple-digit temperatures nationwide has begun. Whether you’d like to cool down or heat things up this month, there is a food festival for everyone in July.
Greater Mandeville Seafood Festival, Mandeville, La., July 4-8: Dive into summer and Independence Day with this five-day party on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. They expect more than 10,000 visitors daily, all of them hankering for some Louisiana lobster puffs, crawfish sausage po’ boys, Creole crab cakes or any of the bountiful underwater edibles served here. Carnival rides, a car show, live music and the FireCracker Fun Run benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project are among the other attractions at the Seafood Festival. End day one with the fireworks display at 8:45 pm.
Wild Rice Festival, Deer River, Minn., July 6-8: As much a staple of life as water, grains are the focus of countless of food festivals worldwide. In the Upper Midwest, it’s wild rice, which has been feted for more than six decades. The Deer River Wild Rice Festival showcases more than a local delicacy. A snapping-turtle stew dinner kicks off a weekend of fireworks, a police department bike rodeo, a parade and bingo — so much bingo.
Fiesta Mexicana, Topeka, Kan., July 10-14: It’s not just about Dorothy in the Cyclone State. Hosted by Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Fiesta Mexicana has celebrated the community’s Mexican heritage since 1933. The Fiesta’s schedule includes plenty of mariachi and Norteño tunes, yes, but also a golf tournament and a royal coronation, as well as the requisite parade. Don’t forget to grab a tamale and test your tolerance for heat at the jalapeño-eating contest.
Parker County Peach Festival, Weatherford, Texas, July 14: Fuzzy and sweet isn’t just a way of describing peaches. It sums up one of Texas’ greatest harvests and nowhere is it as abundant as it is in Weatherford, on the outskirts of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The small town will attract upward of 30,000 visitors ravenous for peach cobbler, peach ice cream, peach jam and more. Let’s not forget the cooking competition. Fruity pounds can be worked off during the Pedal Bike Ride, with routes up to 100 kilometers long. A dominoes tournament will offer sport of a different sort. Of course, the schedule also includes the crowning of peach royalty.
Central Maine Egg Festival, Pittsfield, Maine, July 17–21: For one week in the town of Pittsfield (5,000 strong), there will be no such thing as a bad egg. There will be plenty of cracked ones at the EggLympics, with competitions like the Egg Toss and the 5 Egg Relay. If you’re caught with egg on your face, sign up for the Great American Squirt Gun Fight. Then get a blast of fresh air during a wind-turbine tour and get your fill at the quiche and cheesecake contest. There will be nothing hard-boiled about this festival.
California Beer Festival, Santa Cruz, Calif., July 28: The Golden State offers beer geeks the mother lode of craft breweries, especially in San Diego. But it’s Santa Cruz that will be the state’s sudsy nucleus when more than 70 international and domestic breweries gather at the California Beer Festival. Some of the operations scheduled to pour are Ninkasi, Lagunitas and Grand Teton brewing companies. Supplementing the beverages is grub from local restaurants and food trucks, as well as music from the Michael Jackson tribute band Foreverland. You’ll wanna be drinking something when musicians channel the King of Pop.