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It’s beginning to cool — at least it should be — from coast to coast. And we don’t just mean temperatures — this month’s food festivals are some of the coolest around.
Ayden Collard Festival, Ayden, N.C., Sept. 6–9: The world is stuffed with bitter greens, but none is more dear to Southerners than the collard. And for four days, the leafy vegetable will sprout from all points in this tiny Carolina burg. Accompanying collard greens will be grown men in miniature cars — what food festival parade would do without them? — a horseshoe tournament, line dancers and scads of other tightly packed entertainment. The eating contest will crown a male and female victor, the cook-off will test Southern cred and the carnival rides will turn you green. Gospel singing will season everything. What’s not to love about such a family-friendly fair?
Lodi Grape Festival, Lodi, Calif., Sept. 13–16: Napa doesn’t horde all the grapes. San Joaquin County has a few, too. And for one weekend, bunches of fun will be had by all. Here the competitions go beyond the eating variety: Lodi hosts photography, growing and painting contests. And that’s just for starters. Not exactly grape-related will be the tequila tasting, the Kenyan safari acrobats and a performance by Blaze of Glory, a Bon Jovi cover band. There will be no excuse for whining.
Addison Oktoberfest, Addison, Texas, Sept. 20–23: Founded by a German immigrant 20 years ago, this little Oktoberfest celebration in a 4.35-square-mile town at the edge of Northern Dallas is as authentic as an Oktoberfest can get without being in Munich, right down to the beer and brats served under the 30,000-square-foot, air-conditioned tent. Entertainment will be imported from Germany. Bier-barrel rolling and yodeling contents will have festival-goers clamoring to participate after a few steins. We’re excited about the dachshund races. What could be wurst?
Shipyard Food Truck Festival, Hingham, Mass., Sept. 29: Food trucks have come a long way since their progenitors, lonecheras (taco lunch trucks), roamed the streets of Southern California. There’s a truck for every cuisine under the sun and that’s good news for your mouth. This New England moveable feast will host 17 mobile food vendors offering grub as diverse as lobster and ribs. There will be French food, along with plenty of seafood, thanks to the likes of Go Fish!, Captain Marden’s Cod Squad and Lobsta Love.