Food & Nutrition

9 Weird Food Festivals You Won’t Believe Actually Exist

Whether your favorite food is pumpkin or lobster (or prairie oysters), there’s an American food festival that celebrates it in a big, wacky, wonderful, delicious way.

Hatch Chile Festival


Every Labor Day weekend, this festival celebrates New Mexico’s native chile peppers. Served all over the state in red, green, or “Christmas style” incarnations, they’re placed atop burgers and fried stuffed with cheese as rellenos. The Hatch Chile Festival involves a chile-eating contest, ristra-stringing workshops, the crowning of the Hatch Chile Queen, and plenty of mariachi bands (naturally). Tip: We thought the chile-peanut brittle was the take-home hit. These American food festivals are worth a stop.

Gilroy Garlic Festival

GarlicJOHN G. MABANGLO/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Northern California’s garlic fiesta takes place each July, and festival goers who don’t want to drive can hop on the “garlic train” from San Jose. At the fair, in addition to art and music, professional chefs compete in “Battle Garlic” and a garlic barbecue cook-off and attendees can taste garlic shrimp, garlic bread, and garlic fries. Tip: Don’t leave without trying the famed garlic ice cream for dessert!

Waikiki Spam Jam


This celebration of Hawaii’s love for Hormel’s potted meat product takes place in April in Oahu. Not only can you taste spam creations by a variety of Hawaii’s top chefs you can also buy spam-themed clothing, from hats to shorts and t-shirts to slippers. Tip: Don all your spam-related wear, and then take a selfie with the event’s mascot at the Waikiki Spam Jam. These are the best fall food festivals in America. Make sure you plan your trip before it’s too late.

Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival


This annual celebration takes place in Doyle Park in Little Chute, Wisconsin. Saturday morning starts with a race called the Cheddar Chase; Sunday morning starts with the Big Cheese Breakfast. During the day is Cheese Fest—with a cheese curd eating contest, cheese carving demos, and a melty grilling competition. Tip: Plan to stay late: at night the affair turns into a concert called Cheese Jam.

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