10 Fun Foodie Festivals
Story by Ruksana Hussain
Food traditions, regional agriculture, local novelties, and simple good tastes are celebrated across the U.S. with countless seasonal festivals and themed parties. It’s easy to fill up your travel calendar with foodie events. To help you get started, here are a few suggestions; this is by no means a comprehensive list! These featured foodie events aren’t necessarily the best known or largest of their kind, but they all offer a variety of events and last multiple days.
National Cherry Festival
June 29–July 6, 2019
From pit spitting to pancake/pie eating, and every other cherry-associated family fun activity you can imagine (plus a few you might never have imagined), this celebration of the local fruit crop in Traverse City, Michigan kicks off with a Blues, Brew & BBQ fest and continues with a plethora of farmers’ markets, cherry picking at local farms, princess tea, ‘Very Cherry’ awards, amusements midway, a parade, and much more. What began as a blessing of the local fruit blossoms in 1910 is now a national celebration and invitation to visit the city known as the ‘cherry capital of the world.’
Tip: Most events are free but a few are ticketed. Some events are pet-friendly.
Plan A Trip… Pure Michigan
Maine Lobster Festival
July 21–August 4, 2019
Maine lobsters have a reputation for sweet-tasting meat and a festival dedicated to this cold-water crustacean in Rockland, Maine, presents multiple opportunities to indulge. There’s a seafood-cooking contest, tastes of lobster bisque, wantons, mac-n-cheese, and other delicious dishes, a lobster crate race, parade, and much more. Lobsters reign but you’ll see other local marine fare, too. Don’t miss Steins and Veins, a showcase of Maine-made brews, wines and spirits.
Tip: Tickets required for each day, Steins and Veins is ticketed and 21+ only.
Plan A Trip… Visit Maine
Multiple dates and locations, including…
September 7-8: Dallas, Texas
September 21-22: Seattle, Washington
October 5-6: Secaucus, New Jersey
November 16-17: San Mateo, California
Started in 2007, the Nourished Festivals are the largest and fastest-growing special diet consumer events in the U.S.A. This traveling festival aims to demonstrate that living with a food allergy or sensitivity doesn’t need to be about deprivation. Featuring gluten-free, nut-free, plant-based, keto-friendly and paleo-friendly fare, each event showcases over 100 brands that offer samples, coupons, and informative demonstrations. Seminars cover useful topics such as living with celiac disease, traveling with allergies, living with auto-immune conditions, and achieving a grain-free lifestyle.
Tip: If you miss the event in one location, look ahead to future host cities. The Nourished Festival currently travels to 10 cities across the nation:
Plan A Trip…
Click for the tourism professionals in each host city:
Charlotte, North Carolina
San Diego, California
Secaucus, New Jersey
San Mateo, California
Kentucky Bourbon Festival
September 18–22, 2019
This five-day spirited event in the Bardstown, Kentucky, the “Bourbon Capital of the World,” offers everything from a World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay to a Grand Tasting and Gala. Mix and mingle with folks from Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, Bulleit, Maker’s Mark and other distilleries. Learn about America’s Native Spirit, the producers, bourbon characteristics, mixology and more.
Tip: All events are ticketed and limited to adults age 21 and older.
Plan A Trip… Visit Bardstown
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
November 1–10, 2019
Hawaii’s oldest food festival reaches its 49th anniversary this year! This festival celebrates the culture, preservation and promotion of Hawaii’s coffee heritage. Over the course of the ten-day event, you can meet farmers and artisans, tour coffee farms to see how the world-famous crop is managed, get inspired by coffee art, and sip coffee grown in rich volcanic soil. With a focus on the crop that has helped sustain the agricultural community, more than 50 events will be held including a dances, musical entertainment, and art shows. Don’t miss the cupping experience led by professionals to evaluate single estate farms.
Tip: Most events free but some are ticketed.
Plan A Trip… Go Hawaii
Whiskey, Wine & Wildlife
Head to Jekyll Island, Georgia, for this four-day event that combines Southern culinary creations and Lowcountry wildlife. The oceanfront escape includes a wine cruise, master classes centered on spirited libations, dinners, tastings, and more. Meet some of the South’s best chefs, brewers and distillers, and savor the region’s best flavors.
Tip: There are multiple events, all individually ticketed and limited to adults age 21 and older.
Plan A Trip… Visit Jekyll Island
Taste Washington Seattle
March 19–22, 2020
The nation’s largest single-region wine and food event takes place each year in Seattle, Washington, with four days of food and wine sampling. Enjoy curated events such as the Red & White Party, Taste Washington on the Farm, The New Vintage, and Sunday Brunch. Chef demos often feature James Beard Award winners. The 2019 event featured more than 240 Washington wineries and over 70 of the state’s restaurants.
Tip: Events are individually ticketed and some are exclusively for adults age 21 and older.
Plan A Trip… Visit Seattle
Charleston Wine + Food Festival
March 4–8, 2020
If you’re the sort of foodie who also keeps track of who’s-who in the chef world, the roster of chefs and personalities at this event may be enough to lure you to visit Charleston, South Carolina: Anne Quatrano, Deborah Vantreece, Gail Simmons, Gavin Kaysen, and Maneet Chauan were among the 2019 participants. The event includes excursions, behind-the-scene tours, beverage workshops, hands-on classes, tastings, and more. At this eco-friendly event, all waste and flatware is composted and donated to a local farm.
Tip: Events are ticketed individually and all events are limited to adults age 21 and older without exception.
Plan A Trip… Explore Charleston
Petal to Plate
early April 2020
A floral, culinary, and wellness celebration held early April each year in Carlsbad, California, this event is timed to coincide with peak blooming at the city’s famed The Flower Fields. But the blooms aren’t limited to the fields alone. Fine flowers, food, and drink are the highlights of this floral-inspired ten-day festival where chefs, mixologists and others incorporate petals such as hibiscus, lavender, orange blossom, marigold, poppy, rose, jasmine, and orchid in their creations. Events include food trucks, garden tea, and sunset wine tasting.
Tip: All events are individually ticketed, most events are family friendly. Read more about edible flowers.
Plan A Trip… Visit Carlsbad
New Orleans Wine and Food Experience
This five-day celebration of wineries, restaurants, and culinary talents from across the U.S. is grand and festive in typical Louisiana style. Enjoy wine dinners, socials, street strolls, seminars, grand tastings, a parade—with beads passed out to the crowd, naturally—and more. One of the largest culinary events on the Gulf Coast, the Big Easy will host this taste celebration for the 28th time in 2020.
Tip: Events are ticketed, sold individually as well as in packages.
Plan A Trip… Visit New Orleans