Left at the Fork

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Category: Festivals and Fairs (page 1 of 7)

Maine Whoopie Pie Festival, Dover-Foxcroft ME, June 25th 2016

Is the whoopie pie an Amish original or did New England bakers first devise the sweet snack? That debate will never end but, either way, it seems to have made its first appearance in the 1920s. What is a whoopie pie? Classically, it’s two chocolate cake discs about the size and shape of the top half of a hamburger bun sandwiching a sweet, creamy white filling. These days you can find whoopie pies in dozens of cake and filling flavor permutations — gingerbread? blueberry? candy cane? — and sometimes they’re even gussied up with real, dairy-based fillings. Call us Luddites but we cling to the original chocolate version the way our fingers cling to the whoopie’s sticky chocolate cake. Continue reading

PurpleHull Pea Festival & World Championship Rotary Tiller Race, Emerson AR, June 25th 2016

Purple hull peas, black-eyed peas, crowder peas — they’re all types of cow peas, also known as southern peas. The pea pod of purple hull peas is, guess what, purple. All of these peas are thought to have arrived in America with African slaves. Although Africans liked to eat the peas, white Americans used them as a forage crop, hence the name cow peas. Eventually, the entire American south was won over by the taste of these cow peas. Emerson (population 368), Arkansas’ PurpleHull Pea Festival & World Championship Rotary Tiller Race is an homage to this signature food of the South. Continue reading

Cheese Curd Festival, Ellsworth WI, June 24th and 25th 2016

Ellsworth is the Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin, so it’s only natural that they would be the home of the annual Cheese Curd Festival. It happens this year on Friday and Saturday, June 24th and 25th, at Ellsworth’s East End Park. What are cheese curds? When rennet is added to milk to make cheese, the milk separates into curds and whey. The whey is drained off, leaving curds, which are pressed into blocks or wheels to start the cheddar cheese process. If you don’t press them into cheddar, you’ve got bite-size nuggets of fresh cheese without any of the bite of aged cheese, boasting fresh dairy flavors and salt, mostly. Their most famous characteristic? They squeak between the teeth when you eat ’em! Continue reading

Henderson Sauerkraut Days, Henderson MN, June 24th through 26th 2016

Fermented cabbage. Fragrant. Sour. Buckets and buckets of sauerkraut. All you want, all weekend, free. What more inducement do you need to visit the small town of Henderson, Minnesota during the weekend of June 24th through 26, when they hold their annual Henderson Sauerkraut Days? Be sure not to overdo it on the kraut if you’re planning on competing in the sauerkraut eating contest. You want plenty of appetite available for the competition. You’ll be consuming two pounds of the stuff as fast as possible. Winners typically complete the challenge in a matter of four minutes or less, often after squeezing as much brine as possible from the shredded cabbage (they’ll give you 30 seconds to “prepare” your two pounds of kraut). Continue reading

Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival, Walla Walla WA, June 18th and 19th 2016

It was the late 1800s when a French soldier named Peter Pieri fell in love with a sweet onion on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. He brought seeds of the onion to Walla Walla, WA where local farmers developed it into the sweet and juicy crop the region is now famous for. Late spring each year, Walla Walla celebrates the unusually mild Allium with the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival, the 32nd edition of which will take place next weekend, June 18th and 19th, 2016. Continue reading

RC & Moon Pie Festival, Bell Buckle TN, June 18th 2016

New York has its Dr. Brown’s and pastrami, Philadelphia enjoys a hoagie with a wishniak, and the south? Well, you haven’t really experienced southern living until you’ve savored an RC and a Moon Pie, that sugary pick-me-up of cola, marshmallow, and graham crackers. RC Cola was born in Georgia, and Moon Pies come from Tennessee, so it’s only natural that this southern duo would be honored with an annual celebration in Bell Buckle, TN. The 22nd edition of the RC & Moon Pie Festival will be Saturday, June 18th. Continue reading

Banana Split Festival, Wilmington OH, June 10th and 11th 2016

The year was 1907. The town? Wilmington, Ohio. The place? Hazard’s Restaurant. Owner Ernest Hazard wanted to attract Wilmington College students to his eatery by creating a new, irresistible dish. He held a contest among his employees, a contest which Ernest himself won by laying a split banana in a long dish, laying in three scoops of ice cream, topping the scoops with chocolate sauce, strawberry jam, and crushed pineapple, and crowning the dish with whipped cream, nuts, and cherries. Looking for a name, he asked his cousin Clifton for help. Clifton came up with banana split, and an American tradition was born. Continue reading

Pork Rind Heritage Festival, Harrod OH, June 10th and 11th 2016

The most important questions we imagine most of you would ask are, what? And why? What: Pork rinds are fried pieces of pig skin. The skin, which starts out tough and inedible, puffs up in the fryer, resulting in a delicious, and light-textured, snack food. Are they same thing as cracklins? No, not exactly. Pork rinds are skin-only; cracklins have a portion of the fat attached to the skin. They are great eating, as well. You’ll find both at the Pork Rind Heritage Festival in the small Ohio town of Harrod. Why? The largest producer of pork rinds in the country, Rudolph Foods, is based in Lima, a few miles to the west of Harrod. Continue reading

Battle Creek Cereal Festival, Battle Creek MI, June 10th and 11th 2016

When W.K. Kellogg, with his brother John, invented corn flakes at the beginning of the 20th century to serve as part of the diet at their Seventh-day Adventist health resort in Battle Creek, MI, little did anyone think at the time that Battle Creek would one day, as a result of their efforts, become synonymous with breakfast cereal and Saturday morning cartoons. Today, not only is Kellogg’s based in Battle Creek, but Post cereals as well (C.W. Post was inspired by his stay at the Kellogg’s sanitarium). You can help celebrate that heritage by attending the Battle Creek Cereal Festival this Friday and Saturday. Continue reading

Virginia Pork Festival, Emporia VA, June 8th 2016

There are food festivals and then there are FOOD festivals. What we mean is, the celebrated food at many festivals often makes something of an honorary appearance, while the entertainment and carnival atmosphere become the primary attractions. And then there’s the Virginia Pork Festival in Emporia, where the focus is on pork, pork, and more pork! The 2016 edition, which takes place this Wednesday, June 8th, from 4 until 8 p.m., will mark the 43rd annual celebration of the Virginia pork industry. Continue reading

Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival, Castroville CA, June 4th and 5th 2016

Don’t get us wrong, we love strawberry festivals and watermelon festivals but, let’s face it, those agricultural products grow all over America. The artichoke, however, is something special — almost all the artichokes grown in the U.S. come from California. The California town of Castroville is known as The Artichoke Center of the World. So when we hear that Castroville is holding an artichoke festival, well, we want to put down our strawberries and watermelons and head straight there! This weekend is the big event: the Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival. Continue reading

Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival, Warren AR, June 4th through 11th 2016

A pink tomato festival. With no prior knowledge of the event we would have assumed that this is a celebration of a locally grown tomato that ripens to a pink (rather than deep red) color (there ARE such tomatoes). But no… what they are celebrating, here in Bradley County, Arkansas, is a variety of tomato that ships well if picked when the tomato tops just barely turn pink (ripening further after picking). That pink tomato is now the official state fruit and vegetable of Arkansas. Continue reading

National Sand Bass Festival, Madill OK, June 6th through 11th 2016

The white bass (or sand bass) is the state fish of Oklahoma, and spring is the time for local anglers to catch ‘em. Madill, Oklahoma celebrates with the annual National Sand Bass Festival (“Madill’s Jumpin’ Little Summer Fest”), held this year (2016) from June 6th through the 11th. This 42nd festival, which was first held in 1963 (they sat it out from 1976 through 1987), will mostly take place downtown on the square. Continue reading

International Horseradish Festival, Collinsville IL, June 3rd through 5th 2016

How do you know horseradish? Probably in more ways than first occurs to you: Bloody Marys, seafood cocktail sauce, horseradish sauce for roast beef sandwiches (or even Arby’s Horsey Sauce?), maybe the beet-dyed grated root that helps you force down a piece of gefilte fish once a year. Most American sushi lovers have also eaten plenty of the stuff because, except at the most high-end sushi parlors, the wasabi is made from horseradish rather than the far more rare and dear real wasabi. Why not expand your horseradish horizons this year by attending the International Horseradish Festival in Collinsville, IL? Continue reading

Liver Mush Festival, Marion NC, June 3rd 2016

Pig liver, pig “head parts,” and cornmeal: cook them together into a thick porridge, season it just right, pour it into a loaf pan, and chill until the whole thing solidifies into a loaf. We assume Carolinians wanted to keep the dish to themselves when they called it livermush, a name which somehow manages to out-unappetize its Pennsylvania cousin scrapple. Don’t, however, be led astray by names — when livermush is sliced and fried, and served alongside eggs, or placed in a sandwich, as they do at the annual Liver Mush Festival in Marion, NC, you’ve got yourself a unique and flavorful taste of Americana (provided you appreciate the taste of liver). Continue reading

Soft Shell Spring Fair, Crisfield MD, May 29th 2016

Soft-shell crabs were invented in Crisfield MD. Well, OK, they were invented by the crabs themselves but the harvesting and marketing of them as a food item began in the Chesapeake town. It’s a very delicate process because, if left in the water, a crab’s new shell begins to harden about two hours after shedding its old one. Frozen and cleaned soft-shells are, of course, available year-round but live ones, which are definitely superior, can be obtained only from late spring into early fall. As you might imagine, getting them from the water to the cook alive, and before a new shell has formed, is no small endeavor. Yet the process goes on because the creatures are so darned delicious (and strikingly easy to eat compared to their well-armored brethren). Continue reading

Mill Springs Mill Annual Cornbread Festival, Monticello KY, May 28th 2016

Have you ever eaten a hoe cake (often spelled as one word, hoecake)? It’s an old-time Southern U.S. specialty. Folks from up north, around Rhode Island, may know them better by the name jonnycakes, but yes, they are essentially the same thing: dried flint corn is ground and mixed with boiling water and salt to form a thick batter, from which corn pancakes are made. Some people like to give them some breeding by enriching the batter with things like wheat flour, eggs, and sugar but if you really want to enjoy them at their corn-focused best, stick with the basic version. They are a rugged taste of a rugged time in America’s past. Continue reading

Scandinavian Heritage Festival, Ephraim UT, May 27th and 28th 2016

Did you know that about 650,000 Utahns are of Scandinavian descent? Hence the 40th annual Scandinavian Heritage Festival, May 27th and 28th, held in Ephraim, known as Utah’s “Little Denmark.” As if we need a reminder not to rush to snap judgments, it also appears that this Scandinavian festival in the state of Utah offers some prime eating opportunities! Need proof? Continue reading

Jefferson County Watermelon Festival, Monticello FL, June 4th through 18th 2016

Hot summers call for cool watermelon! For over half a century the town of Monticello, just east of Tallahassee in northern Florida, has put on an annual celebration of this ultra-refreshing summer fruit. Jefferson County has been a major supplier of fruit and seeds to the rest of the country since the late 1800s. This year’s 66th annual festival begins Saturday, June 4th, with the Watermelon Pageants, and will continue through Saturday the 18th of June. Continue reading

Lebanon Strawberry Festival, Lebanon OR, June 2nd through 5th 2016

This year (2016) marks the 107th Lebanon Strawberry Festival in Lebanon, Oregon, which was started in 1909 to celebrate the Mid-Willamette Valley strawberry. The festivities begin Thursday, June 2nd and continue through Sunday the 5th at Cheadle Lake Regional Park. Continue reading

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