Five Fabulous Food Festivals

Tracking down the best of what's local in August


We all know that the best raw ingredients come from somewhere, but often we're not quite sure where that somewhere is. Fortunately for all of us, most places are rightly proud of their produce, and if they've really developed a reputation for producing the most of something, chances are they're going to be celebrating. Food festivals have become the celebration of choice among these destinations, and with good reason.

Is there any better way to showcase an ingredient than having myriad producers and chefs preparing it in different styles? I think not, and while some food festivals can lead to over-kill, Gilroy I'm looking your way, they all end up providing a fantastic culinary adventure to willing participants. Here are just a few of the top food festivals around the country, most featuring their local specialty.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival

Gilroy California is indeed famous for their garlic and for 35 years the local population has welcomed visitors interested in trying all the diverse ways garlic can enrich one's life. There's the usual stuff, plenty of ail and roasted garlic cloves but don't shy away from garlic ice cream, garlic doughnuts, or garlic risotto, though be prepared for the odd glances you might continue to receive for a few days after the festival is over!

The Gilroy Garlic Festival
Gilroy, California
July 26-28 2013

Copper River Wild Salmon Festival

Now I am definitely late to be reporting on the Copper River Salmon Festival held in Cordova, Alaska. Chances are pretty good that if you haven't made your plans to attend this years festival, held in southern Alaska near the mouth of the Copper River you'd barely have enough time to even make it to the festival! Still, it's worth noting, if for nothing else so you can mark it on your calendars for next year, and remember to pick up some Copper River salmon for this weekend's dinner! A simple planked Salmon recipe like this is a great way to subtly accent the rich flavor of Copper River Salmon.

Copper River Wild Salmon Festival
Cordova, Alaska
July 26-27, 2013

Maine Lobster Festival

Now here's an event that's near and dear to my heart. Near because I could actually make it up there, and dear because lobster is one of my all-time favorite foods. Maine lobster certainly has a reputation as being the creme de la creme of lobster, and spending three days researching that supposition in Rockland, Maine sounds like a perfect way to spend an August weekend.

Maine Lobster Festival
Rockland, Maine
July 31- August 1, 2013

Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival

Now things are getting a bit extreme. I mean, a simple celebration of BBQ could be enough to captivate my attention all weekend long but now there's beer, and Bourbon involved! Expect my attention to both be captivated, and wavering. This is a national tour, with dates throughout the year stopping all up and down the East Coast, which is fitting since there are so many BBQ destinations here. In August the tour stops in Cary, North Carolina, and judging from the calendar this is the show to attend: in the heart of BBQ country. There will be tons of 'cue, and 40 Bourbons along with 60 beers to choose from. I suggest making few plans during the weekend, and perhaps keeping the following day or two open. Just in case of course.

Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival
Cary, North Carolina
August 2-3, 2013

National Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival

Why is this not in my calendar? Buffalo wings, spicy wings, creative wings, I might get my year's fill of wings over a single weekend but I have a feeling I would be plenty thrilled doing so. Not only is this happening in Buffalo, New York, Birthplace of the fried and spiced wing, but it is also a weekend packed with inspired wing cookery. Well my mouth is watering just reading about it, and wings might be on the menu later today because of it, but there's no way that could take the place of a visit to the National Wing Festival. How many other deep fried pieces of poultry get their own National festivals?

National Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival
Buffalo, New York
August 31 - September 1, 2013

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