Top 10: American food festivals
As the festival season gets underway in the US, Telegraph Travel serves up a tasty guide to America’s best events for epicureans.
1. Happy Harry’s Ribfest
June 8-11 2016
If you find yourself in North Dakota this weekend, this all-American extravaganza of slow-cooked chicken, pulled pork and beef on the bone — held in the state’s biggest city Fargo — should help you keep your calorie count at a (very) high level. It has been feeding visitors to the region since 1996. Perhaps best to don a bib.
2. Boston Seafood Festival
August 7 2016
The Massachusetts state capital turns its attention to delicious creatures of the deep every August. This carnival of crustaceans, chowder and just about any other type of fare which includes fish takes over Boston Fish Pier (which juts into the fabled Inner Harbour, south of the centre) for one day. The schedule will feature cooking demonstrations, oyster-shucking contests and stalls offering everything from lobster guacamole to sushi.
3. Seattle Street Food Festival
August 20-21 2016
Held in the South Lake Union district of Seattle, this summer party is a showcase of the Pacific Northwest’s most alluring city at its most relaxed. Described as an urban picnic, it is popular with residents and visitors, with local chefs showing their skills alongside a convoy of food trucks and pop-up cafés. Entry is free and comes with a side of scenery — the festival is set up on the edge of Lake Union, one of Seattle’s prettiest bodies of water.
4. Eat Drink SF
August 25-28 2016
Not to be eclipsed by its east-coast cousin, San Francisco also has its August moment of foodie fascination. Pitched on the waterfront — largely at the Fort Mason Center (views of Alcatraz as standard) — Eat Drink SF is illuminated by some 120 of the city’s most respected restaurants laying out their most exquisite delicacies, and more than 70 California wineries and spirit distillers help guests to wash them down with an alcoholic tipple or three.
5. A Taste Of Colorado
September 2-5 2016
The so-called Mile High City, Denver — perched at 5,278ft above sea level, in the foothills of the Rockies — offers a wealth of elevated flavours at its annual food statement, A Taste Of Colorado. Framed by Civic Center Park, at the heart of what is the state capital, this four-day affair sees 50 of the city’s prime restaurants display their wares — ranging from noodles and pasta to tacos and slices of barbecued meat — to a soundtrack of live music performances.
6. Great American Foodie Fest
October 6-9 2016
The chic restaurants of Las Vegas may revel in haute cuisine, but this four-day bonanza — based at Sunset Station — will focus on a rather more basic dining option, the food truck. Not that the culinary morsels provided by these rolling caterers will be lacking in imagination. Expect delicate slivers of meat and spicy fare — as well as colossal burgers and lengthy hot dogs.
7. Garlic & Harvest Festival
October 8-9 2016
Those who like their food to be more than a little ''aromatic’’ may be attracted to one of the more unusual American gastro-jamborees. The small Connecticut outpost of Bethlehem cooks up something of a stink every autumn by crafting (and then eating) a smorgasbord of garlic-infused dips, spreads, cheeses and oils. Vampires are probably advised to steer clear of this event, which may well be New England at its most idiosyncratic. And pungent.
8. New York City Wine & Food Festival
Inevitably, the Big Apple also takes its place in the American food calendar. The New York City Wine & Food Festival is a suitably glittering proposition which signs off the autumn in flamboyant style. This year’s event will scatter its stardust on to Piers 92 and 94. Here, a Culinary Campus will host more than 500 celebrity chefs and the produce of 100 of the finest wineries in the (state of) New York. Tickets are on sale now.
9. Culinaria Festival Week
May 18-21 2017
Texas’s second biggest (and arguably its most intriguing) city San Antonio does its bit to tantalise the tastebuds in May with Culinaria — an annual gastronomic get-together which sees some of the American Southwest’s top chefs cook special dinners, a frenzy of food trucks installed at the central H-E-B Alon Market. Texas wineries (they do exist) tout the fruit of their vines and — with a discreet nod of the head to neighbouring Mexico — tequila-tasting hours.
10. National Morel Mushroom Festival
May 2017One of the more niche edible engagements to dot the American calendar, the National Morel Mushroom Festival has lit up the small town of Boyne City — in the quiet surroundings of northern Michigan — for more than half a century. During this four-day salute to fabulous funghi, visitors can enjoy guided forest walks in search of the best (safe-to-pick) species. Local eateries also create dishes with mushrooms at the heart of the matter.