Travel

Quirky Summer Food Festivals You Don't Want to Miss

Pickles, potatoes and cheese curds, oh my!
Weird Food Festivals Around the Country
Photo: Cheese Curd Festival via Facebook

It's festival season across the U.S., and everywhere from Pittsburgh to small-town New Mexico has a culinary specialty to celebrate. While the following events offer some combination of quintessential entertainment—live music, arts and crafts, parades, road races—all we really care about is the food.

Forget the corn dogs and deep-fried candy bars for a moment—here's where you can get your fill of some more unconventional food fests this summer, including pickles, clams, pierogi and even garlic.

Brooke Porter Katz is a senior editor at Martha Stewart Living and Weddings magazines, and a former editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Instagram at @brookeporterkatz.

  • Cheese Curd Festival
    (Ellsworth, WI)

    Everything tastes better deep-fried—and that includes cheese curds, which are the star of this late-June event. You can also sample cinnamon-sugar dessert curds and participate in a cheese curd-eating relay race.

    Photo: Cheese Curd Festival via Facebook

  • Yarmouth Clam Festival
    (Yarmouth, ME)

    Over the course of a July weekend, more than 100,000 people descend on this small town to devour 6,000 pounds of clams, 6,000 lobster rolls and 13,500 lime rickeys (the festival's official beverage). During the shucking contest, competitors shuck as many as 25 clams a minute.

    Photo: Yarmouth Clam Festival via Facebook

  • Picklesburgh
    (Pittsburgh, PA)

    Head to Pittsburgh the last weekend of July to get a taste of corned beef, chowchow (pickled relish), sauerkraut, kimchi and, yes, even pickle-flavored ice cream. As for the competition portion, the person who can drink a quart of briny juice the fastest wins; last year’s champ knocked it back in about seven seconds.

    Photo: First Comes Health via Facebook

  • Gilroy Garlic Festival
    (Gilroy, CA)

    Two tons of fresh garlic are consumed every July during this festival at Christmas Hill Park—it's served with shrimp, calamari, fries, kettle corn, watermelon and ice cream, to name a few. Don’t forget to pack some gum.

    Photo: Bill Strange Photography and Lara Schraft

  • Pierogi Fest
    (Whiting, IN)

    This July celebration was founded by three Whiting locals who wanted to honor the town’s Polish heritage. In addition to costumed characters like Mr. Pierogi and Miss Paczki (so named for the Polish jelly doughnut), highlights include an eating contest, as well as a pierogi toss.

    Photo: Paul Warner/Getty Images

  • Potato Days Festival
    (Barnesville, MN)

    If you want all-you-can-eat latkes for breakfast, french fries for dinner and Norwegian lefse (a potato-based flatbread best served with butter and sugar) for dessert, head to this self-proclaimed “spud”-tacular celebration in August. The entertainment ranges from ridiculous (mashed potato wrestling) to athletic (a 100-pound sack toss).

    Photo: Chris Pople

  • Hatch Valley Chile Festival
    (Hatch, NM)

    You can smell the roasting chiles long before you set foot in Hatch for this Labor Day event. People flock to the town to purchase bushels of mild-to-extra-hot chiles while watching ristras—those colorful and decorative strings of chiles—get made.

    Photo: Hatch Chile Festival via Facebook

  • 1/7
hide

Around the Web

Get the Tasting Table newsletter for adventurous eaters everywhere