Eight Summer Food Festivals Worth the Schlep

Categories: Food Fests
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Did you miss San Francisco's Oyster Fest last month? Fear not. There are plenty of larger food festivals to satiate you -- if you're willing to travel. We've put together a roundup of some of the best.

Maine Lobster Festival (July 29-August 2)
Made famous by David Foster Wallace's essay Consider the Lobster, this festival in Rockland features over 20,000 pounds of crustaceans for the taking, along with steamed and fried clams, fried Maine shrimp, shrimp cocktail, and steamed mussels. The massive lobster cooker allows you to watch the clawed critters get cooked to death in real time. Admission: $8.

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Gilroy Garlic Festival (July 24-26)
This popular festival (over 107,000 attended last year) located south of San Jose is a vampire's worst nightmare. Garlic bread, garlic fries, garlic almonds, garlic salmon, even garlic ice cream --name the garlic pairing, the Gilroy Garlic Festival serves it up. Make sure to stick around for the garlic cook-off. Winning recipes have included a walnut-garlic tart with garlic-infused ice cream, and garlic seafood soup. Admission is $12.

National Capital BBQ Battle (June 27-28)
The yearly barbecue battle in Washington, D.C., brings together 'cue lovers from across the country to compete for $40,000 in cash and prizes. If you've ever harbored dreams of being crowned National Pork Champion, this is your Woodstock. Admission? $10.
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Adult baby food eating contest.
National Baby Food Festival (July 22-29)
This oddly themed festival in Fremont, Mich., includes a baby food cook-off, an adult tricycle race, and blindfolded baby food taste tests. There's a method to this festival's madness -- Fremont is headquarters of Gerber, the baby food company. Admission is free.

Maui Onion Festival (August 4-5)
Everyone's favorite make-out destroyer gets the royal treatment here, with a raw onion-eating contest, an onion recipe contest, and a lecture on onion history from the Maui Onion Growers Association. Admission is free.

Cheese Curd Festival (July 25-28)
Ellsworth, Wisc., celebrates its cheesy history with a curd-eating contest, a cheese curd 10K run, and plenty of samples. The festival also features country music, a chainsaw art exhibit, and a fantasy coral petting zoo (whatever that means). Free admission.

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National Cherry Festival (July 4-11)
The ultimate cherry festival includes a cherry pit spit contest, an adult cherry pie eating contest, Cherry Idol, and a cherries grand buffet. Other entertainment options abound at this Traverse, Mich., festival, including the Cherry Classic film series, bingo, a bicycle rodeo, an air show, and a bike tour. Tickets sold individually for events.

Hatch Chile Festival (September 5-6)
Hatch, New Mex. -- known worldwide for chile cultivation -- celebrates its bountiful crop with this annual festival, featuring a chile toss, chile-eating contest, and a watermelon-eating contest for soothing burning palates. Needless to say, Hatch isn't recommended for those with sensitive taste buds. $5 gets you admission to the festival and a carload of chiles.
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