While crowds of hipsters prepare their glow-in-the-dark body paint and compile their perfect music festival outfits, food lovers are waiting in anticipation for a different breed of festival: summer food festivals.
With the sun out and summer vibes in full swing, there is no better time to grab your shades and go enjoy piles upon piles of food in the great outdoors.
But why settle for your average food festival? Would you settle for a boring summer? Of course not. Then why would you attend a so-so food fest?
If you’re looking to up your food festival game this summer, then you need to check out one (or all) of these 10 wacky food festivals around the United States. They may be weird and borderline nauseating at times, but these fests are anything but boring.
1. The Testicle Festival (Clinton, MT)
Otherwise known as the Testy Fest. And, yes, it is exactly what it sounds like.
The delicacy of Clinton is widely considered a dish called “Rocky Mountain Oysters,” which is a convoluted way of saying they eat bull calf testicles straight off the plate. Proudly. For the past 34 years.
When: July or August
Festival Highlights: The “Undie 500,” a bicycle race in which participants race tricycles in their underwear, as well as your “standard” ball eating and wet t-shirt contests.
2. Gilroy Garlic Festival (Gilroy, CA)
Garlic lovers, rejoice! Your favorite punchy vegetable actually has it’s own festival and it is glorious.
Somewhere in Northern California, there’s about a 20-mile stretch on the highway that absolutely reeks of garlic. That smell? That, my friends, is the smell of Gilroy, CA. This garlic mecca celebrates their legendary bulbous mana once a year with all things garlic.
Festival Highlights: The Great Garlic cook off and the crowning of Miss Gilroy Garlic Queen. That must be one smelly crown.
3. Battle Creek Cereal Festival (Battle Creak, MI)
Battle Creek plays home to a lot of great year-round festivals. But the one that takes the cake is by far the cereal festival.
Why do they have a cereal festival, you ask? This is the best part: no reason. Battle Creek is not the Cereal Capital of America, it’s just a town that’s not afraid to say what we’re all thinking — WE COULD EAT CEREAL FOR EVERY MEAL, TBH.
Festival Highlights: Take a seat at “The World’s Longest Breakfast Table” and enjoy hundreds of types of cereal.
4. Road Kill Cook-Off (West Virginia)
Another one that, unfortunately, is exactly what it sounds like.
In Pocahontas County of West Virginia, the annual Roadkill Cook-Off is a beloved tradition. The cook-off has been covered by media conglomerates such as the Travel Channel and the Food Network, as hundreds of people flock to witness what side-of-the-road creations will be invented that year.
Festival Highlights: The Roadkill Pageant, which has contests for young girls all the way up to elderly women. And, of course, the tasting of the entries, where you get to taste all the bear, deer, opossum, and squirrel your heart desires — all with a flavorful tinge of Goodyear, of course.
5. SPAM Jam (Waikiki, HI)
Almost seven million cans of SPAM are consumed in Hawaii every year, so it only seems right that there would be a festival to commemorate this island favorite. Come to hang out with Spammy (the borderline terrifying SPAM mascot), but stay to experience all the exciting dishes SPAM has to offer.
Festival Highlights: Spammy the SPAM Man, the best friend of SPAM lovers everywhere. And, of course, trying delicacies like the SPAM macadamia nut sundae and SPAM fried rice.
6. The RC Cola & Moon Pie Festival (Bell Buckle, TN)
The South is a proud part of the country, with many time honored traditions. Two traditions that Southerners are especially proud of — enough to make a festival out of them — are RC Cola and Moon Pies.c
This soft drink and marshmallow sandwich combo has clearly stolen the hearts of the people of Bell Buckle, Tennessee more than anywhere else, because they are the proud hosts of The RC Cola & Moon Pie Festival. And what else do you do at the RC Cola & Moon Pie Festival? You drink a lot of soda and you eat a lot of marshmallow sandwiches. Sounds amazing.
Festival Highlights: Join some clog dancing to traditional blue grass music, witness the cutting of the “World’s Largest Moon Pie,” and see the crowning of The RC King and Moon Pie Queen.
7. BugFest (Raleigh, NC)
Putting a whole new meaning into “slimy and satisfying” is the Raleigh, North Carolina BugFest.
This educational program, hosted by the Natural Science Museum of North Carolina, has over 100 exhibits of insect-related games, activities, crafts and, of course, the main event: the Bug Cafe. Summer food festival, Fear Factor-style.
Festival Highlights: Watch local chefs prepare bugs in some delicious ways, then test the limits of your tummy and try some of the grub yourself — literally, try the grub.
8. Hatch Chile Festival (Hatch, NM)
Attendance of this nationally famous chili festival is over 30,000 each year — over 10 times the year-round population of the small New Mexico village.
Chili lovers everywhere find their bliss among thousands of types of chilies, all ripe for the tasting. If you’re a daredevil when it comes to spice or if you wouldn’t leave the house without your bottle of hot sauce (Beyonce-style), you need to be with your people at this years’ New Mexico fest.
Festival Highlights: See if you can handle the heat in the chili eating competition, taste test the homemade salsa in the salsa/chili cook-off, and watch the infamous Chili Queen get crowned.
9. Biscuit Fest (Knoxville, TN)
Let’s be honest, biscuits are like the underdogs of the breakfast world. But no longer. The brave people of Knoxville are finally giving the biscuit its due with a full-blown festival in its honor.
Celebrate everything there is to love about the flaky unsung heroes of breakfast — which, we don’t have to tell you, is a lot.
Festival Highlights: Judge the Best Biscuit contest, check out the Biscuit Art Exhibition, and watch the biscuit-related talents of Miss and Mr. Biscuit, the festival royalty.
10. Austin Ice Cream Festival (Austin, TX)
At this festival, ice cream isn’t the rinky-dink truck in the back corner of the fest. No, at this festival ice cream is the one and only star.
For the small price of $10, you can live through your inner child at the Austin Ice Cream Festival. Watch the ice cream eating contest (or participate in it, if you’re brave), the Popsicle sculpting contest, live ice cream churning and, of course, eat more ice cream than you thought was humanly possible.
Festival Highlights: The ice cream eating contest, in-person ice cream making, and hundreds of different ice cream flavors to sample.
Which food festivals will you be hitting up this summer? We hope the answer is a resounding, all of them.