Year-end food festivals are a paltry lot. Nevertheless, they exist and are as jubilant as any festival, regardless of the date. This month brings gingerbread houses, warming beer, local wine and seasonal creativity.
Holiday Ale Festival, Portland, Ore., Nov. 30 to Dec. 4: The last vestiges of Thanksgiving are hopefully fading into pleasant memories in time for a Pacific Northwest beer fete, just in case you didn’t put back enough of it last week. This edition will include more than 45 winter warmers, hefty suds to wick away the damp chill. Held annually under the cover of a tent in Pioneer Courthouse Square, the beloved celebration is known for tapping rare, limited releases. Due to flow, this year is a keg of Cascade Brewing Company 2007 barrel-aged Baltic Porter, which organizers tout as the last one, and a 2005 keg of the brewed-once annual dopplebock Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus. The beer brunch will be hosted on the last day of the festival. Throughout the festivities, designated drivers will receive complimentary Crater Lake Root Beer and bottled water.
More December food festivals »
With the trail of Halloween candy beyond the horizon, the Thanksgiving season begins in earnest. This month, harvest festivals begin to peter out and what other fairs are scheduled (many of them seafood related) are front-loaded to leave us as much time as possible to prepare for, then recover from, Thanksgiving.
Denver International Wine Festival, Denver, Colo., Nov. 2-6: Beer may be Colorado’s unofficial beverage of choice, but it certainly isn’t the only option. This seventh annual wine fete proves it by expanding to accommodate attendees. This year’s celebration of the grape will be held at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum and will include a vertical tasting (the sampling of consecutive vintages for the detailing of a drink’s evolution), a cheese-pairing workshop and seminars like “Moscato, Surrender to the Sweet,” led by Andrew Quady. Chefs will tussle during the food and wine pairing competition and you’ll win — because if wine is involved, there are no losers.
More November food festivals around the country »
This month, eyes begin to turn upward to see changing foliage and appetites begin to yearn for warmer and heartier fare. October’s food festivals certainly offer that, along with forays into the lighter dishes of previous seasons.
Jungle Jim’s Weekend of Fire, Fairfield, Ohio, Oct. 1-2: It’s not just you, it is (or will be) hot at Jungle Jim’s, a 1.5-acre zoologically themed international supermarket, during the Weekend of Fire, a fiery foods expo and celebration. Seventy-five vendors will be handing out samples of capsaicin-choked comestibles, including hot sauces, rubs and, yes, ice cream. New at the fifth-annual event will be BBQ Alley, for all your smoked-meat and fried-food needs. Eating contests will reign supreme, though, with bouts centered on mercury-bursting lollipops and horseradish in the Arena of Fire competition zone. Then, there’s the main event, the Defcon DeathMatch Wing Eating Contest. Is there any hotter way to kick off October?
More October food festivals around the country »
Every year, state fairs across the nation invent deep-fried monstrosities in an attempt to be the best (and wackiest) in the land. During the 2010 state and country fair season, Texas took it to the next level with deep-fried beer. Check out several of this year’s top fried foods from Huffington Post Food:
1. Fried Ice Cream Burger – Florida State Fair
Lettuce, tomato, Heinz 57 and French fried ice cream. OK, it isn’t really French fried, but the ice cream is battered in cornflakes and submerged in a vat of simmering oil.
Breakfast lollipops and deep-fried salsa »
Tomatoes are reaching their peak in several parts of the country, and the fall harvest is on the horizon: The ocean is offering a bounty of catches. September is one of the most abundant months for vittles, and the festival offerings that follow reflect that.
Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival, Morgan City, La., Sept. 1-5: This 76th annual Labor Day weekend gathering celebrates industries crucial to the Bayou State’s economy and the individuals who work in the shrimping and oil businesses. Aside from tons of shrimp, Cajun classics like jambalaya and fried alligator will be on the menu. Carnival rides, arts and crafts, a car show and live music round out what is one of the most unique food festivals in the country.
Shrimp and grits, cranberries and more »
Sweltering, smelting furnace-like temperatures won’t prevent Americans from celebrating the bounty of land and sea this month. August kicks off with coastal fun and winds through berry patches, cabbage heads and myriad sweet selections for those who want to heat things up or cool off.
Main Lobster Festival, Rockland, Maine, Aug. 3-7: From the crowning of the Sea Goddess on the first of the five-day fete to the touring of naval vessels, this 63rd annual event attracts more than 20,000 visitors respectful of the ocean and its gifts, gifts that involves 20,000 pounds of lobster, cooking competitions, a parade and a lobster-crate race. The contest is a run over a floating string of traps. Not falling into the frigid Atlantic is a win. Landlubbers need not apply. They can safely crack up with the crustacean fun on dry land and enjoy a lobster roll. Or five.
Mossyrock Blueberry Festival, Mossyrock, Wash., Aug. 6: The unassuming berry conquers all for one day. Only in its third year, this food fair involves all the usual festival diversions: a parade, a car show, a quilt show, blueberry beer, even a raucous pie-eating contest. However, the folks in Mossyrock know it takes more than that to attract thousands of visitors. This early August celebration also offers twin giant blueberry piñatas stuffed with sweet treats. The Friends of Cowlitz hosts a fish tank where children will learn about river and wetlands restoration and everyone can try their hand at the dunking booth.
More August food festivals »
Summer is here, and with it comes a mixed bag of July food festivals that cool down and spice up Americans nationwide. Check out where to festively eat this month.
SIB: Seattle International Beerfest, Seattle, Wash., July 1-3: Summer without beer is like Christmas without eggnog. One of the Northwest’s best beer cities is offering visitors the opportunity to sample beer in all its quaffable glory. From Galactic Imperial Red and Franziskaner to Mikkeller Green Gold and Love & Hoppiness by Rogue, 130 beers will be available. Classic bar games, including darts, will be free to play and live musical entertainment will tickle your ears as palates are pleased. However, if you miss this one, the Portland International Beerfest will be held July 15-17.
7 more July food festivals after the jump »
Get outside and enjoy the early summer crops, seasonal foods and refreshing brews at these festivals across the country.
Virgina Pork Festival, June 8, Emporia, Va.: Every year, over 43,000 pounds of sausage biscuits, pig’s feet, pit-barbecued pork, loin chops and more are grilled to perfection — a ticket includes all of your food and beverages.
Big Apple BBQ, June 11-12, New York, N.Y.: For two days, Madison Square Park transforms into a block party with some of the country’s top pitmasters and over 100,000 barbecue enthusiasts.
Johnson County Peach Festival, June 16-19, Clarksville, Ark.: From peach eating contests to a cobbler, jam and jelly bake-off, peaches are front and center. The family will also enjoy fair favorites like frog jumping and greased pig chases.
More festivals after the jump »