Ask people what they look forward to the most about summer, and each person will have a different answer for you: Day trips to the beach, pool parties, and trips to the theater to see the latest blockbuster are just a few of the possibilities. Ask a foodie what they look forward to most about summer, and you’re sure to hear “food festivals” top the list hands down.
Phenomenal food and summer are a match made in heaven every year and 2016 is no exception. Here are just a few of the many options that are well worth traveling for. Which ones will be making their way to your late summer itinerary?
1. The Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival (Aug 25-28)
When it comes to major American cities that offer eaters an eclectic experience, it doesn’t get much better than Los Angeles. This iconic festival is known the world over for celebrating the very best eats L.A. has to offer, and it is currently in its 6th year.
Come spend four fabulous days at Grand Avenue, one of America’s most important culinary destinations. Enjoy demonstrations from celebrity chefs and top notch entertainment. This year’s guests have yet to be announced, but past guests have included the likes of Masaharu Morimoto, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Thomas Keller, to name just a few.
2. The Gilroy Garlic Festival (July 29-31)
If you’re a garlic lover who’s been hoping for a reason to visit California’s Central Valley before the summer’s over, then you’ll definitely want to consider visiting Gilroy for the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Bring your healthy appetite and experience garlic in just about every form you can imagine.
Start with a serving of the garlic fries that are, without a doubt, Gilroy’s pride and joy. Follow up with garlic bread, garlic frog legs, and more. For the truly adventurous, there will even be garlic ice cream and garlic watermelon!
3. The Maine Lobster Festival (Aug 18-21)
Seafood lovers for miles around flock to Rockland, Maine to partake in their annual Maine Lobster Festival, and with good reason. Not only will there be more than 20,000 pounds of succulent lobster served over the course of the event, but there will be plenty of additional entertainment to enjoy, as well.
Take in a parade, see fine art, partake in tours of United States Navy ships, and more. If you’re so inclined, you can sign up for the Lobster Crate Race scheduled for August 7th. There will also be seafood eating contests for festival goers of all ages.
4. The Spinach Festival (September 10)
If you’re planning to be anywhere near Lenexa, Kansas in September, you’ll definitely want to consider dropping in on their annual Spinach Festival. Lenexa was dubbed “Spinach Capital of the World way back in the 1930s, so you can trust that no one knows this leafy green as well as these folks.
Come see spectacles like the world’s largest spinach salad. Eat your weight in multiple spinach dishes and local specialties – everything from main courses and snacks to spinach-centric desserts. Even the popcorn and the lemonade is appropriately green here. Popeye would love it!
5. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival (September 13-18)
What better way to soak up the last of the summer sun than with an unforgettable bourbon cocktail? Residents of Bardstown, Kentucky celebrate this locally loved libation with style each and every year, as it’s been made here since 1776.
Enjoy the very best local bourbon while partaking in some smooth jazz. Experience a meet and greet with the master distillers of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. There are plenty of activities for families and kids, including but not limited to barrel racing, horseshoe pitching, locomotive rides, and much more.
6. Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off (Aug 31-September 5)
Naturally, no summer food festival tour would be complete without at least one day devoted to barbecued ribs. That said, this spectacular rib cook-off in Sparks, Nevada is something you’ll want to add to your late summer calendar.
Join half a million other rib lovers in chowing down on over 100 tons of succulent ribs. Cheer on your favorite contestants in the cook-off event. Then consider entering the rib-eating tournament as well. Considered by regular festival goers to be the highlight of the event, the eating contest gives you the opportunity to find out just how many ribs you can eat in 12 minutes. (The going record is 9.8 pounds!)