From garlic lovers to cranberry nuts to insect eaters, there's a food festival taking place somewhere in the United States this year for you.
Ever obsess about a food product? Several years ago, I went through a cinnamon phase. I added the spice to my coffee, sprinkled it over ice cream, added it to everything I baked, even included it on scrambled eggs. I just couldn’t get enough of the stuff.
If you’ve ever experienced the same (not necessarily with cinnamon of course), then there’s probably a food event taking place somewhere this year in the United States that’s just for you. Each year, small towns across the county host food festivals dedicated to all that is related to their local specialties: from garlic to cherries to bugs and beyond.
These events often have “festival queens” and other royalty and honorees, along with accompanying wine events, concerts, children’s amusement ride and games, crafts fairs, and other related special events and activities.
Here’s a look at some fun festivals that are popular, obscure and down right unusual.
The last weekend of each July, people descend upon a field located a couple hours south of San Francisco in Gilroy, Calif., garlic capital of the world, to celebrate the pungent yet healthful bulb at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. You can smell the garlic in the air as you approach the town from a few miles out. This year is the festival’s 30th anniversary. Try garlic butter, garlic mayonnaise, garlic slathered ribs and roasts, garlic crabs, garlic french fries and, yes, even garlic ice cream. Believe it or not, it’s good! www.gilroygarlicfestival.com
Become a “fudgie” for a weekend at the fourth annual Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, where the Northern Michigan island’s 17 fudge shops get together to entice people to indulge in more than 10,000 pounds and 25-plus flavors of some sweet sensations. www.mackinacislandfudgefestival.org
Head south of California’s San Francisco for about 20 miles along U.S. Highway 1 to the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival to see local Farmer Mike, who tools around town on his tractor, carve a masterpiece from a monster gourd weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds at this annual homage to the great big pumpkin. Sip pumpkin cider while you nibble on pumpkin pie, white chocolate pumpkin fudge, pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin sausages. www.miramarevents.com/pumpkinfest
The massive Cranfest in Warrens, Wis., boasts more than 1,300 booths of food items, flea market stalls, and arts and crafts vendors. See the winner of the Biggest Berry contest and savor cranberry bread, honey, pancake mix, cheesecake, even cranberry beer! www.cranfest.com
Festivals for more, or less, discerning palates:
Learn about creepy crawlies at myriad events and exhibitions hosted throughout the day at Bugfest, then head on over to Café Insecta to savor some of these protein-rich delicacies: stir-fry grasshoppers over rice, mealworms marinara, waxworm and watercress salad, and ants in amber. The annual event is sponsored by and takes place at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. Cricket chip cookies, anyone? www.bugfest.org
Hormel Food Corp., the makers of Spam, host the Spam Jam each year in Oahu, Hawaii, and there are opportunities to bring this event to other demanding destinations. Admit it, if you don’t think about the ingredients, you like this potted pork. Sort of. In a retro food kind of way. It doesn’t go bad, and you can use it in almost any dish. Did we say it doesn’t go bad? www.spam.com/museum
A food festival ordinarily highlights a great cross section of food of an area, but some only show off one item – one such festival is the Gilroy Garlic Festival. (Next is the Garland Garnish Gathering.) The Gilroy Garlic Festival, taking place in Gilroy, CA, will bring together hundreds of people, and 8 contestants that will all cook dishes containing garlic – wow, garlic…what an accomplishment. Fabio Vivani, a former contestant on Top Chef, will host it. The festival is a fundraiser, and has been a popular event since it's inception in the 70s. You never know – it could be worth cash 'til payday loan to get to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Please visit this site to read more about this:
A food festival ordinarily highlights a great cross section of food of an area, but some only show off one item – one such festival is the Gilroy Garlic Festival. (Next is the Garland Garnish Gathering.) The Gilroy Garlic Festival, taking place in Gilroy, CA, will bring together hundreds of people, and 8 contestants that will all cook dishes containing garlic – wow, garlic…what an accomplishment. Fabio Vivani, a former contestant on Top Chef, will host it. The festival is a fundraiser, and has been a popular event since it's inception in the 70s. You never know – it could be worth a cash 'til payday loan to get to the a rev="vote for" title="Gilroy Garlic Festival Features Past ‘Top Chef’ Contestants" href=" ">Gilroy Garlic Festival .
Hooray for Pumpkin Fest! I'm a big fan of the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival--been going there since I was a kid.