kona coffee

Kona Coffee Festival Celebrates the Big Island’s Bold Beans

Luaus, big waves, and hula dancing may be the first things that come to mind when you think of Hawai’i, but our Pacific island-state is also very serious about its incredible coffee. For nearly 200 years, Hawai’i has been growing some of the world’s finest coffee beans. This month, from November 3–12, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival celebrates that heritage.

In the late 1820s, a missionary planted the first coffee trees in Kona, the sunny region that stretches down the west side of the island of Hawai’i (a.k.a. The Big Island) on the leeward side of the Hualalai Volcano. Sheltered from the area’s harshest wind and rain, Kona’s rich volcanic soil, semi-arid climate, and year-round warm temperatures make it perfect for coffee to thrive.

By the mid-1840s, the first coffee plantations had been established. Soon, Kona coffee would win international acclaim when it received an award of excellence at the 1873 World’s Fair in Venice. By the end of the century, 6,000 acres had been dedicated to growing coffee. By the time Hawai’i was annexed as a state in 1959, annual crops were worth $6.5 million. Today, about 650 farms cultivate coffee across 3,500 acres in the Kona district, producing 3.8 million pounds a year and valued at $14 million.

This month, the 10-day long Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, which began in 1970, celebrates the harvest. Farms offer guided tours, food tastings abound, and music and dancing and culture are everywhere. Each year, Miss Kona Coffee and Miss Aloha are crowned during academic scholarship pageants. The Kona Coffee Recipe Contest and Cupping Competition bring out the best and brightest in their fields. And, of course, everywhere you turn, there is plenty of that wonderful, bold, dark, and delicious Kona coffee – still known to be among the world’s finest.

 

bacon

PA Bacon Fest: A Pork Lover’s Dream

With all the quirky bacon products that have flooded the Internet, it’s pretty clear that bacon marketing jumped the shark some time ago. But bacon itself? Never. The smell, the flavor, the joy… Bacon is just one of life’s great pleasures. Which is exactly why the town of Easton, Pennsylvania hosts the PA Bacon Fest each year. One of the region’s most popular events, the weekend-long celebration attracts more than 150 vendors, 12 musical acts, multiple stages, and 80,000 attendees to this small city located just an hour from New York and Philadelphia.

PA Bacon Fest came to be as a natural extension of the Easton Farmers’ Market, which claims to be America’s oldest continuously operating open-air market, dating all the way back to 1752. Food vendors who source locally and incorporate organic, all-natural, artisan, and pasture-raised products are given top spots in the fest’s popular farm-to-table area.

The family-friendly, non-profit event (a $2 donation donation is suggested at the door) includes a pig roast, pig racing, hog calling, live music, kids’ events, and tons of food, and, as you might imagine, it smells amazing. Visitors come from across the country for chef battles, culinary demos, and hilarious costume contests. (Here’s a good one: A guy dressed as a strip of bacon wearing a “To hale with kale” sign.) As if this lineup couldn’t get any better, additional events include the Kegs Eggs & Bacon, Bacon & Brew, and Cheek to Cheek Pork & Bourbon Pairing tastings. Not for the faint (or clogged) of heart, a bacon eating contest will also be held. If you prefer to get your weekend off to a more healthy start, consider joining the Racin’ Bacon 5K road race. Whatever you do, though, come hungry; you won’t be getting out of this pork-a-palooza without needing to loosen your belt.

seafood appetizer

5 Fall Food Festivals That Will Make Your Mouth Water

We love to eat at any time of year, but when apples and squash start falling off the branch and vine, we find ourselves especially hungry. Seafood, too, finds its peak in the fall; when coastal water temperatures begin to drop, oysters, clams, and other seafood is at its best. Truthfully, of course, we could probably find an excuse in any season to get together with a group of friends to explore the finer points of culinary trends. But great seafood, craft beer, international chefs, and fine wine seem like an exceptional reason to partake right now.

Apple Harvest Festival

Location: Biglerville, Pennsylvania
Date: October 14–15

Deep in the heart of Pennsylvania, not far from Gettysburg, The National Apple Harvest Festival celebrates one of America’s finest harvests. What better way to celebrate fall than with fresh-picked, crisp fruit straight from the tree? The event also includes an antique car exhibit, more than 300 arts and crafts vendors, hay rides, a petting zoo, and all the foods you can make from apples. This is country living at its best.

Wellfleet OysterFest

Location: Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Date: October 14–15

Here in New England, we take our oysters seriously, and assign them profiles based on “merroir.” (That’s like terroir, but based on where something’s grown in the sea.) Located toward the northern tip of Cape Cod, Wellfleet is well known for its delicious bivalves. The cold, salty waters off its shores yield oysters that are decidedly creamy, sweet, and briny – which has made them famous all over the world. For two days every fall, the town’s streets come alive when the Wellfleet OysterFest brings locals and visitors together to celebrate the region’s famous shellfish with food, art, music, and family fun.

Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival

Location: Newport, Rhode Island
Date: October 18–19

Even though summer’s crowds have dwindled, Newport, Rhode Island continues to stay lively, and the Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival celebrates the best the season has to offer. The free event brings entertainment, family activities, and world-famous cuisine from top Rhode Island restaurants together beside the city’s wharves and surrounding yachts. Honoring the “harvest of the sea,” the festival offers seafood specialties – such as clam chowder, stuffed quahogs, clam cakes, fish tacos, and raw oysters – all hauled from Rhode Island’s local waters.

Harvest on the Harbor

Location: Portland, Maine
Date: October 16–22

Among foodies, Portland, Maine has become a true dining and drinking destination, and its Harvest on the Harbor event brings some of the city’s favorite chefs together for dining and tasting events with a focus on sustainable and locally-sourced food. The week-long event, now in its tenth year, also highlights Portland’s dozens of awesome, local breweries. Added bonus: Harvest on the Harbor benefits Full Plates, Full Potential, a non-profit organization that works toward ending childhood hunger in Maine.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Location: Disney World, Florida
Date: November 13

Even if you’re not a “Disney person,” you can still enjoy Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, which runs from the end of August through mid-November each year. Epcot offers more than 35 international food kiosks, plus its themed dining halls, all of which are staffed by people from the countries each restaurant represents, making the food (perhaps surprisingly) authentic. The Food and Wine Festival also brings tasting events, celebrity chefs, cheese and wine seminars, and culinary demonstrations to the park. Whether you go adults-only or take the kids, it’ll be a delicious experience.

Fall Food Festival Dates

  1. Apple Harvest Festival -Biglerville, PA; Oct. 14-15
  2. WellFleet Oysterfest -MA; Oct. 14-15
  3. Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival -Newport, RI; Oct. 18-19
  4. Harvest on the Harbor -Portland, ME; Oct. 16-22
  5. Epcot Food and Wine Festival -Orlando, FL; through Nov. 13

 

New York City Wine & Food Festival Turns 10

New York will play host to more than 80 culinary star-studded events benefiting the Food Bank For New York City and No Kid Hungry® when the Food Network and Cooking Channel celebrate 10 years of the New York City Wine and Food Festival.

Presented by Coca Cola, this year’s lineup includes established fan favorites as well as some exciting new additions. Whet your appetite and review some of the delicious possibilities. NYCWFF runs October 12 – 15, 2017.

Classics

Blue Moon Burger Bash:

One of the events most closely associated with NYCWFF is the Blue Moon Burger Bash presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats and hosted by Rachael Ray.

This event will bring past winners from previous Bashes to battle new contenders in order to see whose burger reigns supreme. Celebrity judges include Lance Bass, Elvis Duran, Jaymee Sire, and BD Wong. Naughty By Nature, best known for their hits “O.P.P.” and “Hip Hop Horray” will also be performing.

Broadway Tastes:

Don’t miss Broadway Tastes, presented by Variety and hosted by Kristin Chenoweth.

A perfect option for gourmet broadway babies, the second annual Broadway Tastes features chefs – and their brunch dishes – inspired by over a dozen popular Broadway musicals. Cast members of Broadway shows will also make the scene, along with Sirius XM host, Seth Rudetsky.

Newbies

Inaugural Clean & Sustainable Cooking:

The Inaugural Clean & Sustainable Cooking panel is a thought-provoking panel with Chef José Andrés, chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup and named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People;” Sam Kass, former White House Chef; and Radha Muthiah, CEO of Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. The panel is moderated by Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation.

Sustainability has never been a hotter topic in the food world. Have a seat and learn from some of the best in the business.

Israeli Brunch:

You won’t want to miss treating yourself to a traditional Israeli Brunch hosted by famed Philadelphia-based chef/restaurateur, Michael Solomonov. Go sweet – with Federal Donuts – or savory, at this family-style brunch at the Café Medi on the Lower East Side.

Chefs are Rock Stars and Rock Stars are Chefs:

This panel gives you the opportunity to Explore the Creative Link Between Music and Food. Panelists include Mario Batali, Award-winning Chef and TV Personality; Jarobi White, Grammy-award winning musician;  and Brooke Mazurek, acclaimed chef and music writer. Moderator Isabel Gonzalez-Whitaker, Deputy Editor of Billboard, will settle in to discuss the creative parallels between food and music.

For the Family

Italian Harvest Party:

Be sure to attend the Alfa Romeo presents Italian Harvest Party hosted by Giada De Laurentiis. Giada and her daughter Jade will bring “la bella vita” to life at their festive gathering. Expect an abbondanza of snacks, pasta, pizza, beer, wine and mocktails – even a live band!

Family Ice Cream Fun-dae:

At Family Ice Cream Fun-dae, I scream, you scream, we all scream celebrity chef ice cream with hosts Mario Batali and Ayesha Curry. Choose from an array of top icy treats curated by Nick Morgenstern of Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, and Rebecca DeAngelis, the pastry chef Babbo. Will you opt for Butter & Scotch or go Big Gay Ice Cream?

NYCWFF Has Something For Everyone

Breathless and hungry? Wondering how you can possibly make the most this action-packed celebration of food? Luckily NYCWFF founder and director, Lee Brian Schrager, gave us some advice: “With more than 75 events, there truly is something for everyone’s taste buds and budget.  If it’s your very first Festival, I would suggest taking in one of our signature events at Pier 92 or Pier 94 and then one of the intimate dinners, late-night parties, wine seminars or interactive classes (depending on what your personal preference is). And wear comfortable shoes!”

Purchase tickets online or call (800) 764-8773.

 

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ghosts

8 Wicked Good Things to Do In Salem, Massachusetts

Among the oldest settlements in New England, Salem, Massachusetts was once the home of rich sea captains and Revolutionary privateers, and became a seafaring power after the Puritan era. Notable examples of our country’s earliest styles of architecture are on display here, as are cultural institutions such as the Peabody Essex Museum – with its world-class collection of art and artifacts. Salem is also the birthplace of both the National Guard and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

None of these things, however, are what people think of when they think of Salem.

The mere mention of this city north of Boston conjures witches, sorcery, and the supernatural. When the residents of Salem held the Witch Trials in 1692, they probably didn’t know they were forever sealing Salem’s fate. During the mass hysteria, 19 people (mostly women) were hanged and one was crushed to death for allegedly practicing witchcraft. So it’s somewhat ironic that, in the modern era, Salem has become a sort of mecca for Wiccan, warlock, and sorcerer types.

Wizard shops, psychics, wax museums, and other hokey tourist traps cater to visitors year round, but in October, Salem turns into full-blown Halloween Town, with a grand parade, street fair, ferris wheel, haunted houses, and so much more. All of which is to say that this historically odd place has undeniable charm – and for anyone who loves Halloween and American history, Salem in October is on their bucket list. Skip the frightfully obvious hocus-pocus, and dig in to the best the city has to offer. Ironic as it is, this historically odd place, as they say in the region, is a wicked good time.

The Witch House

Salem is unusual even among historic New England in that every major early American architectural style – Post-medieval, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, and Italianate – is well represented here. Post-medieval buildings are the earliest type found in New England; the first English colonists would have built in this fashion. Massive central chimneys, gabled roofs with steep pitches, and diamond-paned leaded windows are all typical of the style. The Witch House – home to Judge Jonathan Corwin, who oversaw the infamous 1692 Witch Trials – is a stellar example. Tour the home to explore the quotidian details of 17th-century life, as well as the extraordinary events that made Salem famous.

“Cry Innocent: the People vs. Bridget Bishop”

“The year is 1692. Bridget Bishop has been accused of witchcraft and you are on the Puritan jury.” So begins this historical reenactment and interactive theater experience that invites the audience to play along in the testimonies, cross-examinations, and eventual judgements of Salem’s accused citizens. This “empathic imagination” experience encourages the audience to engage with history, so that they “might broaden their understanding of the present and gain a fresh sense of purpose within their own era.”

Peabody Essex Museum

The beginnings of this museum date back to 1799, when a group of Salem sea captains founded the East India Marine Society and filled their headquarters with “natural and artificial curiosities,” collected on their global trips. Today, the museum’s diverse collection of 1.8 million works still includes some of those very first objects, as well as paintings, sculptures, photographs, textiles, and more from the 1700s through the current era. A 2003 expansion made PEM one of the biggest museums on the east coast, with tons to offer art lovers of all stripes.

It’s Alive! from the Kirk Hammett Collection at PEM

Kirk Hammett, best known as the guitarist from Metallica, happens to be an avid collector of classic horror and sci-fi movie posters, which he credits as being part of his own creative inspiration. On display through November 26, It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection shows off dozens of posters, electric guitars, monster masks, and sculptures that recall the golden age of Hollywood and provide some interesting insight into the evolution of the genre.

Wynott’s Wands

As one might expect, not just warlocks but also wizards galore roam the streets here. Just steps from the Peabody Essex Museum is Wynott’s Wands, a delightful Harry Potter–inspired shop where any old Muggle can browse the stacks and stacks of boxes containing artfully hand-carved wooden wands.

House of the Seven Gables

Born in Salem on July 4, 1805, Nathaniel Hawthorne would write his world-famous novel The House of the Seven Gables – which explores themes of romance, guilt, atonement, and the supernatural – based on inspiration from his native town, and named for this very house. Built in 1668 on the edge of Salem Harbor for one of the richest families in the Thirteen Colonies, the house is now dedicated to Hawthorne’s life and work, and to local history.

Herb Mackey’s Metal Sculpture Yard

Just beyond the ferry landing, local resident Herb Mackey creates imaginative creatures from found objects. Mackey makes frequent additions to the collection, which lives in his yard, much to the delight of locals and visitors alike.

Historic Cemeteries

Salem is filled with Colonial-era burying grounds that feature beautiful headstones with fascinating engraved folk art and lettering. Howard Street Cemetery is said to be where Giles Corey – a victim of the Witch Trials – was gorily pressed to death under the weight of rocks slowly piled upon him after he refused to stand trial. The Broad Street and Charter Street cemeteries also have ties to the hysteria of 1692, with members of the court buried here. Behind the latter is the Witch Trials Memorial, a quiet space commemorating the innocence of those killed and acknowledging the injustice of the events.

 

Beer sampler
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski and Creative Commons.

5 Pubs in Galway Where You’ll Find the Perfect Pint

With its pretty coastline, Galway is often thought of as a popular destination for summer. But with its Bohemian vibe, arts scene, and buzzing nightlife, this city on Ireland’s west coast is a great stop at any time of year. It’s especially tantalizing during the last weekend of September when, every year since 1954, the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival brings foodies galore to town (This year’s event will be held September 22–24.) Oyster shucking contests, talks, and tasting events are all on the menu – as are champagne and stout beers, of course.

If you’re heading to the festivities, you’ll want to partake in the local culture, too. Which, of course, means heading to the pub for a pint (or two). Beloved by tourists and locals alike, here are five pubs worth bellying up to:

Tig Coili

It’s all about the music at this charming spot, located in the heart of the city’s Latin Quarter. Here at Tig Coili, where many of the area’s best players are drawn, you’re likely to catch a lively session of traditional tunes. Fancy a seat outside? You’ll still be in luck; excellent regular buskers tend to play just outside the front door.

Tigh Neactain

Open fireplaces, live music, and an artsy, intellectual vibe can be found between the walls at Tigh Neachtain, also located in the Galway’s Latin Quarter. If beer’s not always your thing, don’t worry – whiskey is theirs. Choose from more than 130 varieties to sip on. Since 1894, this traditional pub has been a gathering place for eclectic crowds, and to this day it attracts actors, musicians, artists, business people, and tourists alike.

Bierhaus

Popular with a younger crowd, Bierhaus supplies an outstanding selection of regional and international craft brews that would surely get any American beer snob excited. But you don’t have to don a manicured beard to feel at home here – the diverse crowd is friendly and warm. Tucked into Galway’s West End neighborhood, Bierhaus has a fresh take on music and food – offering gourmet sandwiches like Banh Mi in place of traditional fish and chips.

The Quays

Yes, it’s listed in every tourist guide, but there’s a definite reason why. For almost 400 years, The Quays has served the good people of Galway and it’s happy to serve you, too. A beautiful stage and pipe organ serve as backdrop for the lively bands that play at Galway’s most famous and historic drinking establishment.

Monroe’s Tavern

Housed in a historic building, this three-story bar is large, but its interior spaces are inviting and cozy. On the ground floor of Monroe’s Tavern, you’ll encounter traditional Irish dancing and song, along with hearty pub fare. Head upstairs later in the evening, where the crowd favors more contemporary bands and a club-like scene seven nights a week. A Galway institution, Monroe’s has been family-owned for decades.

 

People at Festival

5 September Festivals You’ve Never Heard of (But Don’t Want To Miss)

Summer may be behind us here in the Northern Hemisphere, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave its good vibes behind. If you’re looking for a getaway, there are still plenty of good times to be had. Whether the festival circuit is your thing, you’re overdue to connect with nature, or you just have vacation time to use up, consider one of these off-the-beaten path adventures. From a celebration of cetaceans to famous bluegrass fiddlers, there’s a lot to do at these lesser known – but highly entertaining – festivals around the globe.

MASS MoCA Fresh Grass Festival, North Adams, Massachusetts

Located on 16 acres in bucolic, western Massachusetts, MASS MoCA revitalized the desolate industrial town of North Adams when it opened in 1999. Since then, the massive museum has grown to 28 buildings encompassing 500,000 square feet (with another 200,000 left to build out). This month, it hosts the bi-annual Fresh Grass Festival (September 15–17), where every inch of the museum’s campus becomes a pickers paradise, with fiddlers, mandolinists, singers, and more performing across stages and galleries. Pop-up shows and pros jamming out with fans are par for the course – which means you could be rubbing shoulders with names like Brandi Carlisle, Shovels and Rope, Del McCoury, and Son Little, among loads of other talent.

Life Is Beautiful, Las Vegas, Nevada

The Life Is Beautiful Festival, a three-day romp (September 22–24) through downtown Vegas, may change your whole perspective on the City of Sin. Forget gambling in daylight-dismissive casinos, this celebration of music, art, food, and ideas brings together acts like Gorillaz and Chance the Rapper, with food by Vegas’s top chefs. Dozens of artists from around the country also descend on the city, transforming its walls into a mind-blowing – and massive – outdoor gallery. If dusty fields and muddy tents just aren’t your thing, this urban extravaganza might be; it brings the full festival vibe – plus trendy cocktails (hey, it is Las Vegas, after all) – without all the dirt.

Galway International Seafood and Oyster Festival, Galway, Ireland

Oyster-loving Europeans have known about the Galway International Seafood and Oyster Festival (September 22–24) for a while, but news of its popularity is just starting to spread stateside. Shucking contests, tasting events, and celebrity chefs are all on the agenda – and we’re pretty sure people are throwing back a few pints of Guinness, too.

The Social Festival, Maidstone, England

Some of the electronic music scene’s brightest stars will show up at The Social Festival (September 29–30), which describes itself as “bringing a taste of Ibiza to the south east of England.” Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, The Social is spread out across four giant arenas with a lineup that includes Carl Cox, Black Coffee, The Martinez Brothers, and festival founder, Nic Fanciulli. No matter the stage, electronic music fans are guaranteed a place to dance their asses off.

Hermanus Whale Festival, Hermanus, South Africa

This town on the southernmost tip of Africa leaps to life each year when it hosts the Hermanus Whale Festival (September 29–October 1) to celebrate, respect, and preserve marine wildlife. Sporting events, family activities, craft shows, an eco-village, and musical entertainment are all on the docket, but whale-watching, of course, is the main event. Ecologically-sensitive tours on land, air, and sea provide nature lovers and eco-tourists with thrilling views of majestic Southern Right whales as they return to their part-time home along the Cape Whale Coast.

 

Road Trip in Fall

9 Northeastern Fall Festivals Totally Worth the Trip

Sure, summer along the northeast Atlantic coast is gorgeous, but fall is really the region’s time to shine. Come September and October, leaves turn to breathtaking shades of apricot, gold, and fiery red. The days are still warm and sunny, but with just the right touch of coolness in the air. And – oh! – the food. Harvest season yields the crispest apples, pumpkins aplenty, and loads of other delicious produce, and cooler seas mean shellfish is at its best. Your generic pumpkin spice latte might hint at the flavors of the season, but for an authentic experience, here are 9 fall festivals and country fairs in New England and Canada that deliver the best autumn has to offer.

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom Annual Fall Foliage Festival, Various Towns, Vermont

Not only is Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom one of the most beautiful spots in New England, it’s one of the prettiest places in the world. Located on the border of Canada, this region is prime leaf-peeping territory, and the Northeast Kingdom Annual Fall Foliage Festival (October 2–8) couldn’t be more quaint. This week-long event http://www.nekchamber.com/media/2017%20NEK%20FFF.pdf travels through seven towns, with driving tours that take you off the beaten path through hillside country roads to meet artisans at their homes, where they’ll feed you soup and sandwiches. Musical acts, family-style barbecues, historic mill visits, pancake breakfasts, and maple syrup sugar houses are all on the agenda. Sign up for as many – or as few – activities as you wish.

New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, Laconia, New Hampshire

With more than 20,000 jack-o-lanterns, the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival is a sight to behold. This two-day event (October 13th–14th) brings more than 40,000 people, 50 food and crafts vendors, live bands, carnival rides, and kids’ games together to celebrate all things fall in the town of Laconia. Last year’s event brought glory to the state’s Lakes Region when the festival regained its Guinness Book of World Records title for “Most Lit Jack-o-Lanterns Displayed”; efforts are in place to keep that title for 2017.

Freeport Fall Festival, Freeport, Maine

Best known as the home of L.L. Bean, Freeport, Maine is a bustling town on the southern coast. Its annual Freeport Fall Festival (October 6–8), brings together more than 125 New England artists and makers, live music, and fantastic local food, including a “Chowdah Challenge,” where visitors sample and vote for Freeport’s best chowder. Hosted on the L.L.Bean campus and the Freeport Village Station Plaza, the event is free and includes activities for the whole family. While you’re there, take a stroll through the hundreds of great stores, outlets, and boutiques located within walking distance of the festival, then hit up Maine Beer Company, one of the best local breweries around.

Fall Foliage Festival, Boothbay, Maine

Take a ride through history, while enjoying peak foliage season in Boothbay, Maine, when you visit the 50th Annual Fall Foliage Festival over Columbus Day weekend (October 7–9) at the Boothbay Railway Village. Beautiful crafts are front and center on the quaint Village Green, but a ride on the narrow gauge steam train is the real highlight, as you pass by gorgeous surroundings. Artisan demonstrations, live music, and a pumpkin carving contest add to the fun for all ages.

The Big E, West Springfield, Massachusetts

Officially called The Eastern States Exposition, but known to all as simply “The Big E,” this massive multi-state fair held in West Springfield, Massachusetts is the largest agricultural event on the eastern seaboard. Cooking expos, circus spectaculars, parades, country music, antique tractor shows, and an incredible butter sculpture are all part of the fun. But the fair is a functional expo, too, with farmers and ranchers participating in daily livestock shows and agricultural demonstrations. When you’ve had your fill of fair food, craft vendors, and carnival rides, move along to the competitions, where young steer workers, 4-H clubs, alpaca farmers, sheep dog handlers, cider millers, wreath makers, and far more come together to be judged on their crafts. From September 15 to October 1, nothing says fall in New England like The Big E.

Norman Bird Sanctuary’s 43rd Annual Harvest Fair, Middletown, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island has become a year-round destination for tourists, and autumn is one of the best times to visit. Just four miles from the touristy city center, the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown offers country charm and respite. Warm and sunny days make the end of September the perfect time for this nature preserve’s old-fashioned Harvest Fair (September 30–October 1), with it’s pony rides, mud pit tug-of-war, and greased-pole climbing contest. Food trucks and vendors bring farm-fresh local treats to the scene, alongside a beer garden and craft tents. Potato sack races, kids’ crafts, and Native American song and dance make this a beautiful way to spend a fall day with your family.

Fall Flavours Festival, Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island offers all the beauty and coastal charm that any traveler could want along the Atlantic Ocean. From the beginning of September through October 1, the Fall Flavours Festival attracts visitors and locals alike with the culinary delights of the island. Events include mussels and lobster boils, grilled cheese challenges, beachside feasts, and brewmasters dinners. Want to get more hands-on? You can head to Culinary Boot Camp or pick potatoes, catch lobsters, and harvest oysters with the pros. Celebrity chefs, including Lynn Crawford and Corbin Tomaszeski of the Food Network, among many others, head up several events. While there, don’t miss out on the island’s gorgeous fall foliage. Stroll the red clay roads, which are lined with brightly colored leaves, or rent a bike and hit the 270-mile Confederation Trail; built on old railroad tracks, it passes through the woods and along the coastline.

Pumpkin Festival and Regatta, Windsor, Nova Scotia

In western Nova Scotia, size matters – especially when it comes to pumpkins. The town of Windsor describes itself as Big Pumpkin Country, and that’s no joke. At its annual Pumpkin Festival and Regatta (October 9), the pumpkin weigh-in contest frequently yields entrants at over 1,000 pounds, and it’s not unheard of for blue ribbons (well, orange, actually) to go to gourds weighing more than a ton. Brave souls also race across Lake Pezaquid in massive, hollowed-out pumpkins, paddling for prizes in their painted makeshift vessels. Pretty autumn leaves serve as the perfect backdrop for spectators of all ages to cheer them on.

Celtic Colours International Festival, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Northeast of Windsor, Cape Breton Island comes alive for leaf peepers and music lovers alike when the Celtic Colours International Festival conjures the spirit of the Emerald Isle for nine days. Musicians from around the world share stages with Cape Breton’s best singers, dancers, and storytellers during concerts, activities, and events held in celebration of the community’s rich Irish heritage. The festival will be held October 6–14, when the leaves of Cape Breton have fully blossomed into vibrant in red, yellow, and orange splendor.

Northeastern Fall Festivals by date:

September 1–October 1
Fall Flavours Festival, Prince Edward Island

September 15–October 1
The Big E, West Springfield, Massachusetts

September 30–October 1
Norman Bird Sanctuary’s 43rd Annual Harvest Fair, Middletown, Rhode Island

October 2–8
Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom Annual Fall Foliage Festival, Various Towns, Vermont

October 6–8
Freeport Fall Festival, Freeport, Maine

October 6–14
Celtic Colours International Festival, Cape Breton, Novia Scotia

October 7–9
Fall Foliage Festival, Boothbay, Maine

October 9
Pumpkin Festival and Regatta, Windsor, Nova Scotia

October 13–14
New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, Laconia, New Hampshire

People Tasting Cheese

Cheese Fest Atlanta: Grilled Cheese Battles, Unlimited Samples & More

Do you need to hear “unlimited cheese samples” to make the decision to attend Cheese Fest Atlanta? With those three little words, you know you’ll be joining cheese producers and cheese lovers on Saturday, September 23, 2017, from 1-8pm at Historic Fourth Ward Park to share cheese, pair it with wine and beer, and maybe even dance a little to music by local bands. Warning: you’re bound to leave the festival lactose intolerant.

About Cheese Fest

The $35 general admission ticket includes entry into Cheese Fest Atlanta. Once in, you’ll have access to the Meltdown/Macdown competition, and get to vote for best grilled cheese and best mac and cheese. There is also live music, the chance to meet cheese producers from around the world, and of course, the opportunity to taste all the cheese your heart desires from over 100 vendors – and buy the ones you love the most. Children 12 and under are free.

You’ll need to wash down all that cheese with something, so cash bars will be available throughout the festival to buy wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages. ATMs will be on-site.

The festival is outside, rain or shine, so check the weather and come prepared.

VIP Tickets & Pairings

For $55, the VIP ticket includes general admission, plus admission to one of the following classes. VIP ticket holders must be 21 or over. Murray’s Cheese – New York’s most iconic cheese shop – leads the pairing classes.

  • Wine pairing
  • Beer pairing
  • Cheese Twins regional pairing class with a diversity of charcuterie and accoutrements
  • Champagne and sparkling wine pairing

Getting to Cheese Fest Atlanta

Historic Fourth Ward Park is located at 665 North Ave. NE, Atlanta, Georgia. There isn’t a lot of on-street parking, and any pay parking lots are located a good distance from the park. Festival organizers recommend using Uber, Lyft, the Marta bus line, cycling, or walking to get to the Cheese Fest Atlanta.

 

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Kid with Pumpkin

10 Best Harvest Festivals for Fall

Native to North America, the pumpkin is one of the most celebrated harvests in American small towns. This ubiquitous, orange squash may be the focus of many festivals, yet each region of the United States has unique celebrations based on their own food heritage. From cranberries to rice, small towns, villages, and cities celebrate their regional bounty while raise money for local community projects. Here are 10 of the best small town harvest festivals.

Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival

Started in 1971 as part of a beautification project, the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival is not to be missed! This fall harvest festival is known for incredible pumpkin carvings and the World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off contest. Pumpkins can weigh over a ton! Last year’s winner weighed 1,910-pounds! The 2017 prize for the heaviest pumpkin is $30,000.

The Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival is one of California’s oldest and largest festivals bringing in millions of dollars for civic projects and non-profits. Over 60,000 people pack this small town to celebrate the orange squash. Festival food vendors feature local and organic items.

Festival highlights include heavyweight champion pumpkins, a pumpkin parade, Smashing Pumpkins: Battle of the Bands, and the world’s biggest pumpkin sculpture.

Location: Half Moon Bay, California
When: October 14-15, 2017
Admission: Free

Cranberry Festival

Truly a small village, Warrens is the “Cranberry Capital of Wisconsin.” Warren’s Cranberry Festival draws over 120,000 people making it the largest cranberry event in the world. Like many small town fall harvest festivals, this non-profit organization raises millions to support local schools, the fire department, youth, scholarships, etc. Although admission is free, cranberry marsh tours are $6.00.

Past festival events have included the world’s largest cranberry whoopie pie, as well as many other cranberry treats. This tart fruit is not just for Thanksgiving meals. Deep fried cranberries, chocolate covered cranberry cheesecake, and cranberry cream puffs are just a few of the delicacies you can try at the festival.

Cranberry fest highlights include a pie eating contest, marsh tours, and meeting the Cranberry queen.

Location:  Warrens, Wisconsin
Dates & Time:  September 22-24, 2017, 7:00am-6:00pm
Admission: Free

National Apple Harvest Festival

For over 50 years, apple lovers have been gathering in the heart of Pennsylvania’s apple country near Gettysburg for the National Apple Harvest Festival. Drawing in crowds from nearby cities of Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Harrisburg, about 25,000 people attend each day. It is good to arrive early for parking and avoid crowds. Like most small town harvest festivals, the proceeds go to support community groups and parks.

There’s nothing more American than apple pie, and of course this festival includes three pie eating contests a day! In addition to the pie there are many other apple delicacies and libations to try like apple butter, apple cookies, apple bread, apple cotton candy, apple fritters, apple dumplings, apple turnovers, apple cakes, apple guacamole, apple pie moonshine, apple pizza, apple sausage sandwiches, and apple wood smoked turkey legs.  You can also learn how to make scrapple, a mid-Atlantic tradition of combining apples, pork scraps, and cornmeal. (There’s a scrapple festival in Delaware)

Highlights include over 300 arts & crafts vendors, classic cars, a petting zoo, and orchard tours.

Location:  Biglerville, Pennsylvania
Dates & Time:  October 7-8 & 14-15, 2017
Admission: General – $10, kids under 12 – free.

International Rice Festival

The 81st annual International Rice Festival is not to be missed. The four-day festival features two parades, a rice cooking contest, and a queen’s ball. Other traditions include a fiddle contest and frog derby. Given that it takes place in Louisiana, there is plenty of Cajun and Cajun food and music. The purpose of the festival is to bring “attention to the importance of rice as food and also emphasizes it’s [sic] place in the world’s economic picture.”

The International Rice Festival is Louisiana’s oldest and largest agricultural celebration. After a hiatus during World War II, the festival added “international’ to its name. About 300,000 people attend the festival each year. Organizers boast over 7 million people have visited during the festival’s long history.

Don’t miss the carnival rides, rice “poker” run, or the rice grading contest.

Location: Crowley, Louisiana
Dates & Time:  October 19-22, 2017
Admission: Free

Circleville Pumpkin Show

Dubbed the “Greatest Free Show on Earth”, the Centerville Pumpkin Show is the oldest small town harvest festival on our list. It is Ohio’s oldest and largest festival. You can taste just about anything made from pumpkin at the show including pumpkin ice cream. pumpkin donuts, pumpkin fudge, pumpkin burgers, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cream puffs, pumpkin blossoms, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pizza, pumpkin chili, and pumpkin butter.

The big attraction at the Centerville Pumpkin show is the world’s largest pumpkin pie, although it is still probably not enough to feed the 400,000 visitors to the festival. This year’s enormous pie will be over six feet in diameter and weigh over 400 pounds! According to the festival fact sheet, the pie takes “100 lbs. of cooked pumpkin, 40 lbs. of sugar, 26 gallons of milk, 15 doz. eggs, 4 lbs. of cornstarch, 1 1/4 lb. pumpkin spice, 1 1/4 lb. of salt, 42 lbs. of pie dough. Bake 6 hours. Cool 6 hours. At the end of the four day event, the giant pie is donated to area hogs that look forward to a real treat!”

This pumpkin show is filled with concerts, pumpkin pie eating contests, a big wheel race, and the world’s largest pumpkin pie.

Location:  Circleville, Ohio
Dates & Time:  October 18-22, 2017
Admission: Free

Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival began in 1970 to celebrate the Big Island’s coffee history. It is the oldest festival on the islands. In 1828, a missionary named Samual Ruggles planted Kona’s first coffee plant. By 1841, coffee plantations existed in Kona. Today, there are 650 small coffee farms in the region producing 3.8 million pounds!

This 10-day festival features coffee farm tours, cultural art exhibits, a lantern parade, and a Makahiki blessing concert. There is a Miss Kona Coffee Scholarship Pageant and Kona coffee cupping (tasting).

You won’t need much of a coffee buzz to check out the living history farm tour, learn how to cup coffee, and take in the lantern parade.

Location:  Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Dates & Time:  October 3-12, 2017
Admission: $3 festival button

Hood River Valley Harvest Fest

For 35 years, the Hood River Valley Harvest Festival has been celebrating the harvests of the region. This “old-fashioned” fall festival includes local produce and food products, as well as beer and wine. It is held along the riverfront and is the Columbia Gorge’s largest regional autumnal celebration. Boxes of fresh pears, apples, pumpkins, berries and flowers, as well as a diversity of arts and crafts are for sale. Smoked salmon and chocolate covered cherries are just a few of the local delicacies provided by food vendors.

Musical acts range from bluegrass to classic rock. New this year to the festival is an expanded beer, hard cider, and wine selection on tap featuring Gorge Cider Society, Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association and Full Sail Brewery. Sales of libations go to support the Arc of the Mid-Columbia, a group serving those with developmental disabilities.

From truck rides to bouncy houses, this harvest fest has a lot to offer. There is also lots of local beer, cider, and wine. Don’t miss world record pumpkin carver Scott Cully.

Location:  Hood River, Oregon
Dates & Time:  October 13-15, 2017
Admission: Adults $6, Kids under 12 Free

Frankenmuth Oktoberfest

Break out your lederhosen and celebrate this German fall tradition!  Frankenmuth, Michigan’s Oktoberfest is the only Oktoberfest outside of Munich to be officially sanctioned by the German parliament. The festival began to celebrate the reunification of Germany. It is located in Michigan’s “Little Bavaria”. The event is sponsored by Munich-based brewer Hofbräuhaus.

This authentic Oktoberfest is filled with German beer, music, and food. It even features a weiner dog race based on the original Munich Oktoberfest horse races. 100 dachshunds compete for the title of “Michigan’s fastest wiener” while their fans drink and cheer them on.

In between the weiner dog races, there is plenty of beer drinking to be had. There’s also great German food and dancing, plus more beer drinking. Oh, and bouncy houses, plus more beer.

Location:  Frankenmuth, Michigan
Dates & Time:  September 14-17, 2017
Admission: $10 (Sunday free)

Trailing of the Sheep Festival

While technically not an agricultural harvest festival, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival celebrates local fall traditions that are important to the region. This unique celebration is  “preserving the stories and history of sheep ranchers and herders, celebrating the rich cultures of the past and present, and entertaining and educating children and adults about the production of local food and fiber that have sustained local economies for generations”. This small town festival is very unique!

In its 21st year, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival honors the tradition of trailing (moving) sheep from high summer mountain pastures to winter grazing areas. The festivities are filled with history, storytelling, dancing, music, a wool festival, and champion sheep dog trials. It’s been recognized repeatedly as one of the United States’ best fall festivals. Culinary lamb classes, specials from local restaurants, and a Love of Lamb Foodie Fest will fill your appetite.

Some of the highlights include farm-to-table lamb dinners, sheep shearing, and champion sheep dog trials.

Location:  Ketchum,bHailey, and Sun Valley , Idaho
Dates & Time:  October 4-8, 2017
Admission: Free (Activities range from $3-$100)

Fall Wine Festival and Sunset Tour

Located at President George Washington’s home, this festival celebrates local Virginia wineries. A more upscale festival experience, the Fall Wine Festival and Sunset Tour features live blues music, wine tasting, and a tour of Mount Vernon. 20 different Virginia wineries are featured. Visitors enjoy sitting on the East Lawn sipping local wine.

Our first president said, “I have long been of opinion from the spontaneous growth of the vine, that the climate and soil in many parts of Virginia were well fitted for Vineyards and that Wine, sooner or later would become a valuable article of produce.” Washington himself tried to make wine beginning in 1760. Slaves worked in his vineyard where he continued to experiment with varieties. Upon his wife’s death, Washington’s will instructed the slaves to be freed. This historical festival includes a visit to the basement where Washington stored his wines and information on his successes and failures in viticulture.

The wine-based tour of Mount Vernon is not to be missed, along with some great information on our first president.

Location:  Mount Vernon, Virginia
Dates & Time:  October 6-8, 2017
Admission: Friday $40, Saturday $48, Sunday $36

Fall officially begins with the autumnal equinox on Friday, September 22, 2017, though many small towns begin celebrations earlier. This season of harvest is honored in small towns across America. Each region has unique culinary flavors and traditions based on the harvest. Festivals are the perfect way to learn about history and enjoy local culture.

Harvest Festival 2017 Dates

  1. Frankenmuth Oktoberfest-Frankenmuth, MI; Sept. 14-17
  2. Cranberry Festival-Warrens, WI; Sept. 22-24
  3. Kona Coffee Cultural Festival-Kailua-Kona, HI; Oct. 3-12
  4. Trailing of the Sheep Festival-Ketchum, ID; Oct. 4-8
  5. Fall Wine Festival and Sunset Tour-Mount Vernon, VA; Oct. 6-8
  6. The National Apple Harvest Festival-Biglerville, PA; Oct. 7-8 & 14-15
  7. Hood River Valley Harvest Fest-Hood River, OR; Oct. 13-15
  8. Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival-Half Moon Bay, CA; Oct. 14-15
  9. The Circleville Pumpkin Show-Circleville, OH; Oct. 18-22
  10. International Rice Festival-Crowley, LA; Oct. 19-22