14 Summer Food Festivals Worth the Cost of Travel

Amazing cooks across the country are ready to tantalize you with great-tasting foods at festivals in the summer.
Last updated June 1, 2023 | By Jenny Cohen Edited By Chris Kissell
Happy Group of friends toasting and drinking beer at bbq party

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Warm summer weather brings outdoor eating and fun food festivals. Some of these events cater to a specific type of food while others may give you a little bit of everything. If one of these events is near you, you can enjoy some local fun without the cost of travel and reduce your money stress

If you’re planning to get a taste of summer fun, check out some of these tasty treats on your travels over the next few months.

Taste of Chicago

Courtesy of Taste of Chicago/Facebook Taste of Chicago entrance sign

Taste of Chicago is one of the largest outdoor food fests to dig into this summer. The celebration shows up over several dates: June 11, 18, and 25, then July 8-10.

Pick up all kinds of tasty Chicago treats, like deep-dish pizza and hot dogs, along with new creative fare. Check some live music acts while you’re munching.

Cheese Curd Festival

Courtesy of cheesecurdfestival.com Cheese curd festival tray

Wisconsin cheese is world-renowned and celebrated at the Cheese Curd Festival in Ellsworth. This year, the festival will be held on June 24-25 and feature 6,000 pounds of cheese curds.

You can pair the cheese curd dishes with local beers and wine to make it a great food-and-drink festival.

Hudson Valley Taco Fest

Sydney/Adobe person grabbing taco

Take a road trip north of New York City to Beacon, New York, for the Hudson Valley Taco Fest on June 25.

Check out vendors who make tacos with traditional and not-so-traditional ingredients, like short ribs and shrimp. Eaters can also pick up other favorites like tostadas, empanadas, and Mexican fried ice cream.

Key Lime Festival

Courtesy of Filda Konec / keylimefestival.com People at key lime festival

If you’re looking for a summer getaway, head down to Key West, Florida, for the perfect weather and a delicious citrus celebration, the Key Lime Festival.

The event from June 30-July 4 has plenty of pie as well as a Key Lime scavenger hunt and a pie-eating contest. And you can end the celebration with key lime pie and fireworks on the Fourth of July.

National Cherry Festival

artiemedvedev/Adobe Cherries at farmers market

Aside from the automobile, cherries are one of Michigan’s best-known exports. Head to Traverse City on July 2-9 to take in the National Cherry Festival and eat all kinds of tasty cherry treats.

The festival also has live concerts and a demonstration by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. And don’t forget to say hello to this year’s National Cherry Queen.

Music City Hot Chicken Festival

Courtesy of Music City Hot Chicken Festival/Facebook Music City Hot Chicken Festival

A July 4 tradition returns with the Music City Hot Chicken Festival in Nashville. Visitors can pick up the best hot chicken in town or grab a cold beer and other treats from local vendors.

And if you think you can compete with the professionals, sign up for the amateur competition on June 29.

EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival

Courtesy of Disney Epcot Food and Wine Festival sign

Beginning July 14, Disney will host its annual EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival. The food fest features treats from around the world that you can enjoy while just walking around the Epcot theme park.

The event also includes live music and special merchandise for Disney fans.

Yarmouth Clam Festival

Courtesy of clamfestival.com Clam Festival

Head to Yarmouth, Maine on July 15-17 for the Yarmouth Clam Festival. The food fest includes more than 6,000 pounds of clams. Or, try a lime rickey, which is the fest’s favorite beverage to wash down all the delicious seafood.

There are also running events for kids and adults to work off that extra food, or the 40th Annual Clam Festival Men’s & Women’s Professional Bike Race.

Picklesburgh Festival

Courtesy of picklesburgh.com Picklesburgh Festival

Head to the iconic Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh to celebrate the love of all things related to pickles. On July 15-17, the city hosts the Picklesburgh Festival, showing off popular pickled products from a variety of vendors.

And if you’re brave enough, sign up for the pickle-juice drinking contest, which will be held in August.

Maine Lobster Festival

Courtesy of The Maine Lobster Festival Maine Lobster Festival

Maine is well-known for its lobster, and the state has a lobster fest to celebrate its prized catch.

The Maine Lobster Festival, which takes place on Aug. 3-7 in Rockland, includes traditional lobster feasts as well as homemade chowders and other seafood like steamed mussels and clams.

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival

Courtesy of cary.beerandbourbon.com Cary Beer Bourbon and BBQ festival

Cary, North Carolina, hosts a food fest that appeals to different groups depending on what you prefer.

The Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival on Aug. 5-6 features samples of beer and bourbon, all the different types of barbecue you want to try, music, and a game carnival featuring giant Jenga and Connect Four.

Worcester Wine Festival

alfa27/Adobe bartender holding a glass of wine

Massachusetts is home to the Worcester Wine Festival on Aug. 27, celebrating wines and food from a set of vendors.

The festival will once again be held at the city’s baseball park. Attendees can taste more than 600 varieties of wine.

Buffalo Wing Festival

Alexe/Adobe fast food festival

The home of the buffalo wing celebrates its invention at the Buffalo Wing Festival in New York.

The festival, held on Labor Day weekend (Sept. 3-4) packs a punch at Highmark Stadium, with buffalo wing vendors, competitive eating contests, and a chance for amateurs to show off their buffalo wings skills.

New Orleans Beignet Fest

katkami/Adobe French beignets with powdered sugar on top

While it may be almost fall by the time you get to the Beignet Fest on Sept. 24, it should still be warm in New Orleans.

Check out the best variety of beignets the city has to offer, along with live music throughout the day, including the jazz music for which New Orleans is famous.

Bottom line

khunkorn/Adobe Blur Festival

Some of the best travel credit cards can help you pay for some of the best food across the country. And if you’re not up for a long trip, consider looking for tasty food fests near you.

There are plenty of these events across the country this summer, so chances are good that at least one is only a short drive from home.

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Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.