Autumn is the ultimate time of year for food festivals, and with the changing of the seasons on the horizon, it’s time to start planning trips that allow you taste the best the country’s various regions have to offer. Harvest season in New England and California’s wine country means festivals that celebrate local produce, while other events around the country feature the best beer, barbecue, oysters, and more. To satisfy any set of taste buds in the coming months, read on for our list of the country’s top 10 fall food festivals.—Abbey Chase
WHERE: Portland, Oregon
When: September 15–18, 2016
Presented by Bon Appetit, Feast Portland promises the best of “Oregon's Bounty,” now in its third year. Taste a “sandwich supernova,” Stumptown's famous coffee, and street food from around the world, or get your hands dirty with candy-making and butchery classes. For top-notch imbibing, head to Negroni O'Clock on Friday, or a bubbly tasting on Saturday. Net proceeds will be donated to Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Share Our Strength, a children's anti-hunger campaign.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Portland Guide
Music City Food + Wine Festival
When: September 17-18, 2016
The epicenter of country music has established itself a foodie destination, and the Music City Food + Wine Festival serves as the perfect exhibition for the city's best bites. Learn secrets to crafting the best sushi with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and how to whip up the perfect paella with James Beard Award winner Michael Symon. The Grand Taste, running from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days, is the ultimate destination for sampling the best of Nashville's culinary scene.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Nashville Guide
Great American Beer Festival
When: October 6-8, 2014
Founded in 1982, the Great American Beer Festival is a celebration of the best brews produced around the country, with nearly 700 breweries represented at last year's festival. When you've had your fill of beer, sample some of the artisanal cheeses, hosted by the American Cheese Society, or check out the Farm to Table Pavilion, featuring the best chefs working in the U.S.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Denver Guide
American Royal BBQ
WHERE: Kansas City
When: October 26-30, 2016
Since 1899, the American Royal has hosted one of the country's premiere rodeos, and with the addition of the World Series of Barbecue, the event has become a food event as well. Put on by The American Royal Association, a not-for-profit organization based in Kansas City, the event hosts the largest barbecue festival in the world and is the “season finale for the competitive barbecue circuit,” featuring more than 550 teams vying for titles in four meat categories.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Kansas City Guide
Sonoma County Harvest Fair
WHERE: Santa Rosa, California
When: September 30-October 2, 2016
There's no better place to celebrate the fall harvest in California Wine Country than at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, showcasing more than 150 wineries at the festival's Tasting Pavilion. In addition to the marquee Grand Tasting event in the evenings, the fair awards prizes to the best food, craft beer, and cider presented at the festival, plus it hosts grape-stomping events and chef demonstrations.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Santa Rosa Guide
National Apple Harvest Festival
WHERE: Arendtsville, Pennsylvania
When: October 1-2 & 8-9, 2016
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the National Apple Harvest Festival rounds out its fruit-themed offerings with antique car displays, chainsaw carving, and a petting zoo. You'll find apples baked, pressed, jellied, candied, and more; when you're ready to try something else, be sure to pick up one of the festival's steak sandwiches.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Pennsylvania Guide
Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival
WHERE: New York City
When: October 13-16, 2016
With proceeds going to hunger-relief charities, the New York City Wine & Food Festival brings together the best of the Big Apple and celebrity chefs from around the world. Andy Ricker, Dominique Ansel, Tom Colicchio, and Mario Batali will all be making an appearance at this year's festival, and chef demonstrations will include everything from vegan and raw dinners to butchering lessons. Admission doesn't come cheap at these events, but the world-class talent and noble cause make the price well worth it.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's New York City Guide
New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival
WHERE: Laconia, New Hampshire
When: October 22, 2016
After setting an attendance record last year with more than 30,500 festivalgoers, the Keene Pumpkin Festival returns to this sleepy New Hampshire town better than ever this year. With jack-o'-lantern-lined streets and the smell of maple cotton candy in the air, this charming festival captures the quintessence of fall in New England. The Great Pumpkin Mile race kicks off the day first thing in the morning, and the festival ends with the Pump(kin) Dump Derby, a race that pits teams against each other as they clean up after the festival.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Keene Guide
WHERE: Wellfleet, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
When: October 15–16, 2016
Seafood lovers shouldn't miss this annual Cape Cod tradition, now entering its 14th year of oyster-themed festivities. The Oyster Shuck-Off competition is the highlight of OysterFest, and judging of the tedious event has been known to rile up the good-natured crowd in the past. Aside from the competition, check out the Crabgrass (bluegrass) music on the Main Stage or enter the round-robin tennis tournament.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Cape Cod Guide
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
WHERE: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
When: November 4–13, 2016
The coffee culture on Hawaii's Big Island stretches back nearly 200 years, with many fifth-generation coffee farmers populating the Kona region. The annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival celebrates the island's world-renowned beans with coffee-picking contests, cooking demonstrations, farm tours, and the crowning of Miss Kona Coffee.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Kailua-Kona Guide