Image source: Flickr - Jen
Pumpkins, olives, apples, pears, rutabaga and squash. There are so many delicious reasons to love fall. While one can simply go to their local grocery store or farmer's market to savor the season's bounty, it can be fun to go to a fall food festival to really immerse yourself in the flavors, colors and local community of these foods. To help you plan a tasty fall itinerary, here are the top US food festivals to attend this fall.
1. The Food Film Festival (NYC, Chicago, Charleston)
Taking place since 2007, hungry moviegoers can pair movies with tasty eats at The Food Film Festival. The famous James Beard Foundation helps to put on the event, and you'll experience dishes through multiple senses as you first see the food on screen then taste it. Some films that have been shown in the past include "Know Your Mushrooms," "Whole Hog" and "Big Night." Awards given out by industry professionals are also part of the fun, including Best Feature, Best Short, Best Super-Short, Best Food Porn, Food Filmmaker of the Year and Audience Choice. Bonus: A portion of the festival's proceeds goes toward organizations like the Food Bank For New York City, GrowFood Carolina and The Good Food Project. Dates for this year's festival are October 29-November 2 in NYC and November 20-22 in Chicago. In Spring 2015 it will also take place in Charleston.
2. Boston Local Food Festival (Boston, Massachusetts)
Put on by the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts, Boston Local Food Festival is a free farm-to-fork focused event offering the chance to savor true Boston flavor through farmers, local chefs and community purveyors. Featuring cooking demonstrations, live music, dance performances, a seafood competition, over 100 local and sustainable food vendors and a Do-It-Yourself Demo Tent where local experts teach attendees about things like vegetable fermentation, wheatgrass juicing and landless gardening. Sustainability is also a focus, and the festival is zero-waste (last year they diverted 91% of waste from landfills to be recycled and composted). This year's Boston Local Food Festival is September 14, 2014, at the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway.
3. Feast Portland (Portland, Oregon)
Focused on the delicious produce and talented purveyors of Oregon, Feast Portland - put on by Bon Appetit - offers a chance to taste, learn and experience in a delicious setting. An all-star lineup of local and visiting chefs like Jason French, Vitaley Paley and Cathy Whims (local) and Paul Kahan, Anita Lo and Aaron Franklin (visiting) are on the roster, as they take part in themed happenings within the larger festival, like Sandwich Invitational, Dessert for Dinner and Brunch Village. There are also various tastings focused on topics like charcuterie, sour beer, sparkling wine and tiki menus. For those who want to perfect their chef skills, there are a number of hands-on classes like a juicing class taught by Portland Juice Company, pie-making with the Portland Pie Company, artisanal soda making with Atlas Sodaworks, coffee creation with Stumptown Roasters.
4. Po' Boy Preservation Festival (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Hoagie. Hero. Grinder. While there are many names for these sandwiches, with their crusty crunchy bread and variety of delicious meat and vegetable fillings, in New Orleans it's known as a po' boy. Not only are po' boys loved in New Orleans because of their taste, but also their heritage. The sandwich is one of the culinary foundations of the city, first documented as being served at the French Market's Martin Brothers' Coffee Stand and Restaurant in 1922.
At the Po'Boy Preservation Festival, also known as the Oak Street Po' Boy Festival, you'll eat po' boys from the city's top restaurants in unique flavors like an organic buffalo po'boy with mushrooms, onions and spicy cabernet sriracha from The Harbor; a stuffed crab remoulade po'boy from Jack Dempsey's; and a Nola Schnitzel po'boy from Bratz Y'all. Moreover, you'll learn about them through discussions on the dish's history, notable people and moments and dish preparation. Live entertainment, craft vendors, a kid's village and boutique shopping are also part of the fun. This year's free-to-enter event will take place in November.
5. Taste Of Events Series (Locations Vary, California)
Throughout the year, but especially in October, one can visit a number of California cities to take part in "A Taste Of..." series events. These take place all over the state with A Taste of Carmel, a Taste of Sacramento, a Taste of North Park, a Taste of Italy (in Los Angeles), a Taste of Encino, a Taste of Coronado and Santa Barbara's A Taste of the Central Coast, to name the October events. The exact itinerary of these festivals varies depending on topic and location, although all use food as a vehicle for exploring local culture.
Another not-to-miss fall food festival in October in California is the Arts & Olive Festival in Redwood City, California, about 30 minutes outside San Francisco. Since 1998 the festival has taken place at Canada College to help raise money for student scholarships, which is why there is a suggested donation of $5. Here, over 80 vendors -- including true olive and olive oil experts -- come together to showcase their tasty goods and educate the public on olives. Art is also a festival focus, and the works of locals will inspire you. Chef demonstrations, puppet shows, arts and crafts, face painting, storytelling, juggling, live music and olive workshops help to make this a can't-miss annual food festival.
Where is your favorite fall food festival?