Road trips are poised to make a comeback this year, and with many food lovers plotting out trips to follow the food, FOX News points you toward some of the best eats coast to coast.
In the Midwest, get ready to chow down on some top notch cheese. One of the best known events is the Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival in Little Chute (June 5-7), where cheese lovers can enjoy cheese curds, cheese cake, and even get faces painted with whey.
Those who are hot for horseradish should head to Collinsville, Ill., the “Horseradish Capital of the World.” James Fraioli, author of “The Best Recipes from America's Food Festivals” says the International Horseradish Festival (June 6-7) features all things made with this spicy member of the mustard family, from Bloody Marys to briskets. Fraioli says the festival “is perhaps best known for its contests” which include the Arlington Green Root Golf, played with golf ball-shaped horseradish roots, and the Root Derby.
For many people, the start of summer is synonymous with firing up the barbecue, and some of the country’s best pit masters gather every June at the Big Apple Barbeque Block Party in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park (June 13-14). Saveur Magazine’s Deputy Editor Dana Bowen shares a tip: Go the night before when all the pit masters are gathered in the park “having a good time and getting ready for party."
Carnivores can get a second helping at the Festival of Smoked Meats in Ville Platte, La. the last weekend in June (26-27), Bowen reminds us there are wonderful BBQ festivals and competitions all year long across dozens of states. One of the biggest is the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tenn. in October where she says the pit master of the year is minted.
A favorite frozen confection gets its due at the Banana Split Festival in Wilmington, Ohio (June 12-13) where it was allegedly invented by restaurant owner Ernest R. Hazard in 1907. Incidentally, Latrobe, Pa. also claims the distinction as home of the first banana split. Try both and decide for yourself.
The perfect thing to top that sundae? Cherries. And you’ll find plenty of them in Traverse City, Mich. during its National Cherry festival (July 4-11). Some 500,000 people show up to enjoy the fine fruit as well as have some fun with the cherry-spitting and pie-eating contests.
Bowen believes the Taste of Chicago (June 26-July 5) is a terrific way to sample offerings from the Windy City’s restaurants. Participating establishments - from the high end to the smaller, local eateries - serve up tasting portions to foodies as they graze their way across the huge lawn in riverside Grant Park.
The Yarmouth Clam Festival (July 17-19) is “a great celebration to the salty local bivalve,” according to Bowen. The festival in Maine serves up steamed clams, clam cakes, fried clams and other goodies to landlubbers.
In the Pacific Northwest, there’s a major suds celebration in Portland, Ore. The Oregon Brewer’s Festival (July 23-26) bills itself as “the quintessential celebration of craft beer” and features some 80 different brews from around the country.
You didn’t have to see the film “Sideways” to know that the Golden State is known for its wineries. One of the largest gatherings of vintners is the Annual California Wine Festival in (July 16-18). The three-day long celebration draws thousands of tipplers to Santa Barbara each summer.
The following week, you can follow your nose north to the Gilroy Garlic Festival (July 24-26) in Gilroy, Calif. The self-proclaimed garlic capital of the world celebrates the harvest by serving up all things garlic – from ice cream to chocolate covered cloves. More standard fare is on hand for the less-adventurous. The event is not sponsored by Listerine, but you might want to bring some along for the trip home.
You might want to save a mouthful, because If you’re craving pickles, Bowen loves the “pickle extravaganza” laid out at New York City’s International Pickle Day (Oct. 4). You can find everything from kosher pickles to spicy cabbage slaw with carrots to Middle Eastern pickled turnips at this celebration held in the heart of the old Pickle District of the Lower East Side.
And if you’re not done with the dills, author James Fraioli points out that you can pick up some pickle pizza or a deep-fried pickle at the International Pickle Festival in Rosendale, N.Y. (Nov. 23) where some 5,000 fans of the cured cucumbers head for their pickle treats.
New Orleans may top the list for many food lovers, but each November, Abbeville, La. breaks 5,000 eggs to cook up the star attraction at The Giant Omelet Celebration (Nov. 7-8).
“Legend has it,” Fraioli says, “that Napoleon [Bonaparte] enjoyed such a delicious omelet from a local innkeeper during a stop in a nearby town, that the general ordered all the eggs in the village to be gathered and a giant omelet be prepared for his army.”
Bowen says there are literally thousands of festivals across the country and one for just about everything you can crave. “The point is to just get in your car and explore,” says Bowen, who promises “if you do it with a food-first mentality, you are going to find something delicious and have a great time.”