by Jose Ralat Maldonado in Events, March 6th, 2012
by Jose Ralat Maldonado in Events, February 3rd, 2012
As late winter looks toward spring, this month’s food festivals head outdoors, to the woods and to the shore for sugar highs, creamy mirth and moveable feasts.
Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, Fla., March 1–11: The state fair has nothing on the Sunshine State’s Strawberry Festival. The sweet bonanza of fruit-related diversion and traditional food-fair merriment, including a royal court, draws hordes of hungry and smiling Floridians, not to mention snowbirds. All are eager for the simple pleasure of strawberries and cream, after which they can try their hand at carnie games on the midway or test their stomachs on a thrill ride. The Neighborhood Village displays homemade, local food and crafts. Competitions aren’t relegated to only the edible variety. Baking and preserving contests share schedule space with needlepoint and scrapbooking. Of course, there’s also pig racing, ideally paired with strawberry-topped funnel cake.
Cincinnati Wine Festival, Cincinnati, Ohio, March 8–10: Cincinnati is an underappreciated world-class city with a magnificent skyline (it’s important!), so it’s no surprise that the riverside urban center hosts a jam-packed oenophile fiesta, complete with dinners, sampling and an auction. The weekend affair is uncorked with a series of elegant wine dinners, followed the next day by hours of access to the tasting room. Ticket prices for seven sips begin at $40. Chin-chin, Cincy.
by Jose Ralat Maldonado in Events, January 3rd, 2012
Even if one is stuck in the Great White North, February is still a fiery month for food festivals.
Tropical Wine Festival, Des Moines, Iowa, Feb. 3: Iowa is more than a crucial battleground in presidential politics, it’s a fertile land for oenophiles with a sense of humor when it comes to clothing — we’re as surprised as you are — during the first weekend in February. The Tropical Wine Festival, for which attendees are encouraged to don their favorite tropical attire, unites local wineries and lovers of their vintages for a few hours of chin-chins and nibbles from area food purveyors, including The Cheese Shop of Des Moines and Dos Rios Cantina and Tequila Lounge. Go all the way with Hawaiian leis and tiny bubbles when musical group Tropical Steel fires things up.
AleFest Columbus, Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 5: Warm up in the Buckeye State with this one-day brew fete. Beer aficionados will geek out at the opportunity to sample some of the more than 250 stellar creations — including cask — at this seventh-annual affair. Admission ($40) earns the festival-goer a tasting glass to be filled with 20 samples and a guide to scheduled events, including a silent auction and a raffle for beer collectibles. Belly up to the booth.
More food festivals in February »
by Jose Ralat Maldonado in Events, November 30th, 2011
Welcome to January 2012. It’s cold in some parts of the country, so most of the celebrations on our foodways are indoors and focused on staving off hypothermia — mostly with drink. Cheers to a new year and new ways to relish that which sustains our bodies and our minds.
Big Beers Festival, Vail, Colo., Jan. 5-7: Another month, another wonderful suds soiree to stave off the cold (or cool our keisters, in the case of the warmer seasons). This beer festival on the bunny slopes of the Rocky Mountains is one of several spirited occasions in January. For this 12th annual event, hefty beer, including Belgians, barleywines and sours, will be showcased during exclusive dinners, seminars (The Marriage of Good Beer and Good Music with Sam Calagione) and commercial tastings. A homebrew competition and a certified cicerone (i.e., beer sommelier) exam will also be held.
More food festivals in January »
by Jose Ralat Maldonado in Events, November 1st, 2011
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 »
by Jose Ralat Maldonado in Events, September 30th, 2011
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 »
by Victoria Phillips in Community, Events, September 24th, 2011
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 »
by Jose Ralat Maldonado in Events, September 1st, 2011
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 »
by Jose Ralat Maldonado in Events, July 29th, 2011
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 »
by Jose Ralat Maldonado in Events, June 30th, 2011
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 »