12 Food Festivals Celebrating America’s Bounty

20
Aug 2014

Thanksgiving might be America’s original food festival, but throughout the year, you can visit hot spots across America celebrating the bounty of the land. You’ll find local chefs pairing the best of fresh flavors mirroring the public’s interest in knowing their food. Taste Of This, Bite Of That, the name of the event doesn’t matter, but represents community wide gathering for friends, family, neighbors and visitors alike to come together and  sample  simple, small plates of ingredients collected from the land and sea. There are an estimated 8,300 food festivals world wide, here are some of my favorites, in the States:  12 Food Festivals Celebrating America’s Bounty. Get your tastebuds ready to finish off the season, or mark your calendars for 2015.

  • Did you say garlic ice cream? In late August garlic lover’s can celebrate all things garlic from ice cream to the newest food trend, black garlic, at the Southern Vermont Garlic Festival. Cooking demonstrations, tastings and the addition of herbs are the main attraction here.  Seasoned, roasted, sautéed and peeled, this member of the onion family gets it’s chance to shine.  And then of course there is the garlic in all shapes and sizes.

garlic-festival

  • Farm fresh ingredients in Maui inspired recipes are the star of the show in Hawaii’s Ka’anapali Fresh ending the month of August. At the three day festival  you’ll experience authentic Hawaiian culture, learn from celebrity and  island resort chefs and discover new ways to be creative with cocktails.
  • The Hudson Valley Wines and Dines at their Annual Wine & Food Fest held the first weekend in Septmenber.  Hosted at the Rhinebeck County Fairgrounds, you’ll find gourmet specialty foods from all over the East coast.  Regional restaurants, food trucks and celebrity chefs all make appearances.
  • In Boston, WGBH will be hosting their Taste Of WGBH Food and Wine Festival in mid September.  They have collaborated with some of the top farms, producers, restaurants, wineries and breweries in the region.  The event is divided into events each day, my favorite is the Artisan Taste on Saturday where you can –you guessed it-excite your tastebuds and sample from all of the vendors.  New this year is a Brunch Bar which I’m sure will be a great addition.
  • Last year, my own Boston Local Food Festival powered through a heavy rain, so I am really looking forward to this years celebration.  Held on the jewel of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, this is a free event that showcases farmers, fisher folks,  food trucks and specialty food producersin one of the nation’s largest local and sustainable food extravaganzas.  Committed to making the event a Zero Waste Festival, everything is either recycled or composted.  You’ll be seeing more in depth coverage after the festival on September 14th.  Foodies will have plenty to choose from on this weekend in Beantown.
  • Seafood lovers should head to the Bourne Scallop Festival held at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in mid September {just after the Boston Local}. Music, rides and professional arts and crafts fill out the main event.  Sweet scallops, a chicken fry and chowders in many forms are the highlights of the menu.
  • Island hopping? Head to Martha’s Vineyard for their celebration of fresh and local in October.  With over 15 interactive events, you’ll have the chance to learn form headline chefs and personalities while inducing your palate in the bounty harvested on the island and in the sea.

Mark your calendars for these great tasting events in the new year.

  • Artichoke lovers will need to make plans to attend Castroville’s Annual festival held in May at the Montery County Fairgrounds.  It will be a real eyeopener to see some of the creations {sculptures} made from California’s official vegetable, and of course your tastebuds will get a workout.

artichoke festival

  • The Big Easy has long been known for their oysters and their festival in late May or early June is a bi-valve bonanza in New Orleans.

oyster festival new orleansJuly brings a cornucopia of events.

  • Vermont is America’s top cheese making state per capita, which makes this festival the ideal place for turophiles to mingle with cheese-makers. Held each July at historic Shelburne Farms on the shores of Lake Champlain, festival highlights include regional food and wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, seminars, and a whole lot of cheese. Think of this as the  event for everything cheese.

cheese festival americas bounty

  • Bite of Seattle combines four stages of music with their food festival the third week in July at the Seattle Center.
  • This one might be a bit of a destination festival, but if your planning a trip….Salmon is on the menu for Alaska’s Copper River Wild Salmon festival held in mid July. Held in a small town at the mouth of the Copper River, enjoy music along with your salmon feast. The festival opens with the annual Taste of Cordova, serving all things salmon as well as a local wild foods.

salmon wood carving chair

  • Finally, one I missed this year, but already have on the calendar for next is in the most perfect of settings.  A bucolic lawn, on a hill,  overlooking the harbor and Narragansett Bay is combined with the best of ingredients that Rhode Island is well know for. Farm Fresh Rhode IslandRhode Island Food Festival wins the prize for overall fab experiences.   Set on the grounds of the Castle Hill Inn {the former Agassiz Mansion} this event will take you on a stroll through the flavors of Rhode Island.  Oysters, check; local cheese, check; brews and wines. check and check again.  Held during the first week in August, the selection of farms, seasonal cocktails and chefs along with the intimate nature of this event, keeps foodies coming back year after year. I can’t wait!

Attending Food Festivals that support small farmers, makers and fisher folk helps to keep their businesses sustainable. Do you have a local festival celebrating farmer’s bounty and artisan makers in your neck of the woods?  I’d love to hear about it and be able to add it to my list.

  Top photo courtesy  Gary Knight.
  1. America loves its food! You are spot on about how good their food festivals are – we were in Newport RI a few years back and there was a seafood one on the wharf – fantastic food and a really good buzz in that bit of the town!

  2. noel says:

    I can’t believe, I’ve only been to one of those festivals, meaning I have more things to put on my bucket list – yeah! Yummy festivals!

  3. Lovely article and photos Alison. I had no idea that the artichoke was California’s official vegetable. I adore them both to eat and to look at in the fields, especially when they are blooming with their purple flowers. A town called Benicarlo, not far from us, is the most important place in terms of artichokes in all of Spain.

  4. There’s nothing I like more than a food festival and I’d happily visit them all. Vermont cheese would be top of my list though. You’ve made me very hungry just thinking about it.
    Particularly love that first photo by the way – such colour and atmosphere. Interestingly you can only really see one persons face but you still get a great feel for how much everyone is enjoying it.

  5. Great list, Alison… I think it would have to be the Southern Vermont Garlic Festival for me. Such an interesting and versatile ingredient so I’m sure there would be lots of ideas to take home from that one.

    • alison says:

      I love cooking with garlic too. Have you tried it slow baked (the entire head). Leave the head whole, cut off the top 1/4″ , drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and bake for an hour at 300. Use instead of butter and slather on bread. Oh my……

  6. I recently found out that the Isle of Wight off the southern coast of England is a great spot to visit for garlic ice cream and honestly after reading this so soon after and finding a second spot that offers this delicacy I guess it’s something that I should try out!

    • alison says:

      Everyone seems to have a strong interest in the garlic ice cream-must be because it’s so unusual! I’ll have to find some and report back Chris.

  7. Garlic ice cream? Ummm. No thanks… But the oyster festival in New Orleans gets our attention.