17 Best Summer Food Festivals In The US

The summer is one of the best times to explore the United States because there is just so much stuff to do, including an array of delicious food festivals to fulfill your every craving. There are well over 7,000 different food festivals across the country every year, which means there is a bounty of deliciousness in store. However, deciding on the best food festival for you this summer can be a bit of a task when you're so rich with choices. 

Luckily, you won't have to go searching far and wide to find the right U.S. summer food festival for you. Whether you're in the mood for a fair food extravaganza, a vegan feast, or a celebration of a food niche like pickles, it'll be waiting for you in the United States this summer. Without further adieu, these are the 17 very best summer food festivals in the United States. It's time to get eating!

California State Fair and Food Festival (Sacramento, CA)

No matter what time of year you visit California, you're sure to stumble upon some memorable, fantastical food. Cali's reputation as a food haven is only heightened when the California State Fair and Food Festival rolls around in July. This year, the enormous foodie event will run from July 14 to July 30 for over two weeks of mouth-watering fun. 

The massive food festival offers everything from savory delicacies to sweet treats. You'll get to taste things like a cajun chicken po' boi, samosa sandwich, bacon and pecan cinnamon roll, deep-fried apple pie, and much more. Yes — there is a fairly high chance you'll be leaving the California State Fair and Food Festival with a food baby. 

There will also be a variety of entertaining competitions for things like baking, olive oil, cheese, wine, and even cannabis (this is California, after all!). You can also see musical performances by artists like Fitz and the Tantrums, Boyz II Men, Third Eye Blind, and Ashanti for an additional ticket purchase of $25. You can easily spend a few days getting to know every nook and cranny of this incredible food fest. Don't forget, this is still a full-blown fair, so there will be plenty of thrilling carnival rides for little ones, too.

Smorgasburg (New York, NY)

New Yorkers all rejoice when April rolls around because that means it's finally time for the long-awaited Smorgasburg food bazaar to come to town. The amazing thing about Smorgasburg in New York City is that it isn't just a one-off food festival –- it lasts throughout the entire spring, summer, and early fall, all the way until October. The outdoor Smorgasburg market opens across NYC every weekend in three different locations. It goes down at The Oculus on Fridays, Marsha P. Johnson State Park on Saturdays, and Prospect Park on Sundays. 

Whichever venue you choose, you'll be greeted by up to 65 rotating vendors waiting to make your food dreams come true. From Thai and Chinese food to Peruvian and soul food, Smorgasburg has it all. The vendor list includes some of New York City's top restaurants and little-known eatery gems all in one convenient location. You can munch down on tacos from Birria LES, stuffed buns from C Bao, a variety of donuts from Dough, and burgers from Hen House. The vendor list at Smorgaburg does switch up every now and then, so you can get something new every time you visit. 

Maine Lobster Festival (Rockland, MA)

No matter what time of year it is, Maine is always boiling up some fresh, tasty lobsters. Lobster is such an indulgent staple of the state, so why not dedicate an entire festival in its honor? That is exactly the thought process behind the annual Maine Lobster Festival. 

This seafood extravaganza will take place from August 2 to August 6 in 2023. Over the course of five full days, there will be an array of lobster delicacies crafted to perfection, from innovative dishes to Maine classics. The festival will offer lobster dinner platters, lobster mac & cheese, lobster bisque, lobster Caesar wraps, and, of course, plenty of warm, buttery lobster rolls. 

The menu isn't the only thing to look forward to at Maine Lobster Festival. The festivities will also include competitive seafood cooking contests, a 5K walk/run, and even a big parade on August 5. This is a super family-friendly event, complete with arts and crafts, live music, and the Little Lobster Diaper Derby, so even the youngest kiddos can get involved in the competition.

Picklesburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pickles are usually known as the side course to sandwiches, but at the Picklesburgh festival, they're the main event. It might sound a little odd to devote an entire 3-day festival to reformed cucumbers, but you would be surprised just how many things can be made out of pickles. There is a whole world of pickle creations. Pickle-flavored Oreos, pickle beer, pickle ice cream, chocolate-covered pickles — you name it. 

Running from July 21 to July 23 of 2023, Picklesburgh by Heinz is definitely one of the more unique food festivals during the summer. It's also one of the most beloved events of the whole year in Pittsburgh, attracting hundreds of thousands of patrons. Picklesburgh even won the title of the "best specialty food festival in America" this year. 

For all the pickle juice lovers out there, Picklesburgh is the event for you. There is a pickle juice drinking contest with a grand prize of $500. So, you could even walk away from this food festival with some extra dough in your pocket. 

Key Lime Festival (Key West, FL)

If there is one food that Key West is known for, it's key limes. It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that this summer paradise puts on a yearly celebration for this signature ingredient.  The Key Lime Festival festivities begin on June 30 and continue all the way up until the 4th of July. So, you have plenty of time to get your fill on all the key lime dishes you can imagine. 

The schedule includes a wide range of key lime-related activities, like a mini key lime pie class, a key lime pie eating contest, a key lime rum-tasting event, key lime trivia, and a scavenger hunt. There is also an annual pageant at this eclectic food festival. If you're over 21, you could have the chance to be named Miss Key Lime 2023 as long as you nail the talent, Q&A, and evening wear components of the competition. 

Perhaps the most unique event of this Floridian food festival is the Key Lime Pie Drop. Everyone gets together to watch participants come up with clever ways to drop a key lime pie from the top of a lighthouse without damaging the dessert. It's free to enter and free to watch. The 5-day festival will come to an end by slicing up the world's largest key lime pie with a piece for everyone in attendance. 

Minnesota State Fair (St. Paul, Minnesota)

While a state fair isn't technically a food festival, an exception must be made for the extravagant Minnesota State Fair because the food here is absolutely insane. This place is packed with some of the wildest cuisine concoctions you can imagine. There are 300 different vendors and more than 500 unique dishes to try. Running from August 24 to September 4, the Minnesota State Fair is one of the longer food events of the summer. 

The plates at this festival are like something out of a dream, with everything from spaghetti and meatballs on a stick to deep-fried lobster on a stick. Not every magical food delight at the Minnesota State Fair comes on a stick, though. There are also things like BBQ pickle ice cream, alligator ribs, Reuben egg rolls, and breakfast gnocchi. Plus, this festival offers some of the most intense desserts you can get your hands on, such as buckets of cookies, deep-fried ice cream, s'mores waffles, and candied bacon donut sliders. 

It'll definitely be a food experience that you'll never forget, so arrive with an open mind and an empty belly! Once you're done gorging on all the strange and wonderful delights at the Minnesota State Fair, there is still plenty to do around the grounds. There will be musical performances and rides that range from kid-friendly to adrenaline-pumping. 

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (New Orleans, LA)

New Orleans is known as a food hub no matter what time of year it is, but the party really gets going during the summer months. That's when the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience comes to town from June 7 to June 11. This is definitely more of an upscale food festival experience that's a better fit for adults, rather than families.

The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience was actually voted as one of the top 5 wine festivals in the country. The tickets range from $129 for the most basic ticket to $1,000 for the complete VIP experience, making the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience a 'treat yourself' type of event. Throughout the 5-day festival, there will be all different sorts of happenings that might pique your interest, such as pasta-making classes, burlesque brunches, and plenty of incredible wine dinners. The main event of the weekend is the annual wine competition that determines the cream of the crop from 210 different wine entries. 

VegFest Colorado (Denver, CO)

Up until this point, all the vegan readers out there have probably been left feeling pretty bummed to miss out on all the food festival fun. Finding a suitable food festival when you have dietary restrictions can be a little tough, but VegFest in Colorado solves that problem. VegFest is held on July 29 to 30 and the event is completely, 100% vegan. You can get absolutely anything to eat at this festival worry-free.  

For two days, there will be no animal products of any kind anywhere on the grounds so you can dive in and enjoy any food that catches your eye. The 100+ vendors at this lively vegan food festival include some of Colorado's best plant-based eateries. You can expect to find dishes from restaurants like Saucy Cluckers, Kind Confections, RawEvolution, and Watercourse Foods. Even if you don't adhere to a vegan diet full-time, you'll get a kick out of all the unbelievable dishes at VegFest.

Taste of Chicago (Chicago, IL)

The "Taste Of" events are some of the most well-known food festivals in America, but one of the best is Taste of Chicago. This year, the main festival will be pushed back a bit later than usual to be held on September 8 to September 10 at Grant Park. However, there will also be single-day iterations of the event on June 24 at Humboldt Park, July 15 at Pullman Park, and August 5 at Marquette Park. 

For over 40 years, the Taste of Chicago festival has become a treasured late summer tradition. With over 1 million visitors every year, Taste of Chicago is actually considered the largest food festival on the planet as of 2019. Imagine how many tasty morsels there are to discover at the biggest food festival ever! 

As with many of the best food festivals in the U.S., the dishes at Taste of Chicago have a high chance of blowing your mind. Some of the favorite vendors at the event that keep people coming back year after year are Whadda Jerk, Ms Tittle's Cupcakes, Robinson's No.1 Ribs, and, Chicago's Doghouse. No matter which spot you try, though, you won't be disappointed. It's the perfect spot to feast on all the Chicago classics from deep-dish pizza to Chicago-style hot dogs. 

Vermont Cheesemakers Festival (Greensboro, VT)

Cheese has worked its way up to becoming a staple of the American diet and it's especially revered in Vermont. There are over 45 individual cheesemakers across the state in total, that's a lot of dairy! Take the chance to honor all things cheese this summer at the one-day-only Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. On August 13, the 12th annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival will kick off with a bunch of exciting activities, and certainly, lots of cheese. 

There will be more than 30 award-winning cheesemakers showing up to grace you with their products and other artisan food producers from Vermont. Although the cheese will be the center of attention, the festival will also offer a variety of other elite local food products, like honey, peanut butter, hand-crafted marshmallows, and salami. Then, you can wash it all down with some beer, wine, and cider from a selection of excellent local breweries and distilleries. 

Denver Burger Battle (Denver, CO)

When you think of American food, the next image that tends to pop up in your mind is a rich, juicy hamburger. Well, Colorado has decided to put their state's burgers to the ultimate test with its annual Denver Burger Battle. Denver Burger Battle has been a summer tradition since 2010 and it's still going strong this year on August 3.  This competition is going to be a show-down for the ages with 20 impressive contenders coming into the battle. 

Each of the participants is a local restaurant that wants to earn the claim to fame of having the best burger in Denver on their menu. Last year's winners, The Cherry Cricket and the Stanley Beer Hall, will be back once again to defend their title. There will also be a bunch of newcomers on the scene, like Mighty Burger and Slater's 50/50. Make sure you attend this burger foodie fest extra hungry and get ready to find your new favorite hamburger in Denver. 

South Carolina Peach Festival (Gaffney, SC)

There is nothing quite as satisfying as biting into a juicy peach at the height of the summer. It seems like South Carolina agrees with that sentiment considering that they throw the huge South Carolina Peach Festival every summer. Over the two weekends from July 14 to July 22, this family-friendly food festival will have a packed schedule focusing on all things peach. 

On July 14, the event will start with the annual dessert contest, followed up by a kick-off party complete with music and a carnival at Jolly Park. The next day is the South Carolina Peach Festival Parade, the Circus Stella Dog Show, and again, plenty of live music to get the party going. The Peach Festival will finish off July 21-22 with a dirt track race, the Peach Festival Pageant, and finally, the highly anticipated Mud Bog at Lake Whelchel. The fun thing about this particular food festival is that there is way more to it than just peaches.

Taste of Soul Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)

Taste of Soul Atlanta is the perfect way to finish off your summer on September 2 to September 3, especially if you're a lover of soul food. It is one of the few USA food festivals that are completely free to enter and enjoy, making it an excellent option for visitors on a budget. There will be mouthwatering dishes from Atlanta's very best soul food establishments up for grabs all over the place, along with awards given out for the very best dishes across the festival.

Not only is this festival a massive celebration of all things soul food, but it's also considered the biggest Soul and R&B music festival in the country, with more than 100 different performers putting on a show. So, make sure you don't eat so much that you can't dance because you're definitely going to want to get up and move when these artists get on stage. To get in on all the concert action front and center, you'll have to buy a 'Soul in the City' concert pass to get clear access to all the musical headliners. 

Chicago Food Truck Festival (Chicago, IL)

Chicago is a food city, from its legendary deep-dish pizza to its stuffed-full Italian beef sandwiches. Some of the best places to find these Chicago delicacies are actually inside the city's food trucks. Food trucks are one of the best parts of the summer, making it effortless to grab delicious bites on the go. However, it can be a little difficult to find a spot with multiple food truck options. 

That's why the Chicago Food Truck Festival was born a decade ago. Chicago Food Truck Festival is going down right in the middle of the summer for two days on July 29 and July 30. It is one of the biggest food truck events in the country, with more than 50 different vendors coming to show off their stuff. Admission to the event is totally free, but you can also opt for a $10 VIP ticket that comes with early admission and a drink on the house. 

Vegan Street Fair (Multiple Locations)

The Vegan Street Fair is actually a nationwide event that takes place all over the country throughout the summer, fall, and beyond. Whether you're in Atlanta (June 17), Seattle (July 29), Oakland (August 26), Denver (September 23) Austin (October 7), Miami (November 18), or Las Vegas (November 4), you'll have a chance to get at all the vegan delights. There will also be iterations of the Vegan Street Fair in New York (May 18 & 19) and Los Angeles (March 23 & 24) in 2024. 

Last year, 40,000 people attended the Vegan Street Fair in Seattle alone, so you know you'll be surrounded by good vibes and lots of energy. Each city's version of the Vegan Street Fair will offer hundreds of vendors who each put their own unique spin on animal-free dishes. Plus, there will be free entry for all ages and super affordable small plates, making the Vegan Street Fair easily one of the top festivals if you're sticking to a strict budget this summer. 

Gilroy Garlic Festival (Gilroy, CA)

Garlic is a tiny ingredient that ends up creating some of the most delicious foods you can imagine. On June 23, you can come together with all the other garlic lovers of the world to celebrate the versatile vegetable in the garlic capital of America — Gilroy, California. The Gilroy Garlic Festival is a time-held tradition that's been going strong for 44 years now and it's just gotten better every year. 

You will experience garlic in ways you never have before once you get to Gilroy. There will be whole roasted garlic, garlic shrimp, garlic peanut butter cups, garlic kettle corn, and even garlic ice cream. In addition to all the garlic-y goodness, there will also be a big golf tournament that goes along with the event. This year will be the third time the Annual Garlic Golf Classic goes down and the golfers even get dinner with their entry ticket. 

Dessert Wars (Multiple Locations)

You might as well finish off a summer of food festivals with one of the most intense dessert events of the year: Dessert Wars. It is the largest dessert festival in the United States. This is a hardcore food festival that showcases over 50 local vendors and all their famous sweet treats. Best of all, everything is up for grabs to try. 

There will be traditional favorites that excite your inner child and mind-blowing confection creations that you've never heard of before. Some of the most memorable goodies from years past include cupcake milkshakes, red velvet fried Oreos, and campfire s'mores stuffed cookies. Every year, though, Dessert Wars brings something new and exciting to the table. 

Technically, Dessert Wars goes on for half the year in different cities across America, from March until early December. So, no matter which corner of the country you live in, you can take part in this epic sugar showdown. However, you can catch Dessert Wars this summer in Palm Beach, FL (June 3), Charlotte, NC (August 26), or Miami, FL (September 9).