Many communities across Appalachia unite over a celebration of local foods in the form of fairs and festivals.
These annual events often have demonstrations, crafts, and tons of celebrated food or drink available to purchase.
Some of the most unique, delicious, and fun festivals from throughout the region are listed below. Which ones have you marked off your bucket list?
International Wine Festival
Celebrate the new year with a selection of award-winning wines from around the world. Sample more than 40 wines ranging from big, bold reds to clean, crisp whites and everything in between. In addition to the souvenir glass, patrons will enjoy paired hors d’oeuvres and live music.
Carolina Chocolate Festival
Swansboro, North Carolina
Calling all chocolate lovers: This North Carolina festival can cure any sweet tooth. The festival raises funds for local charities while celebrating all things chocolate, including chocolatier vendors, a chocolate pudding contest, and a cocoa 5k run.
Highland County Maple Festival
This county-wide festival celebrates all things maple. Tens of thousands of visitors can observe the process of maple syrup making and all the delicious products made from it: maple sugar, maple butter, maple donuts, and, of course, pancakes with maple syrup.
Mountain Mushroom Festival
This festival’s slogan, “where the Bluegrass kisses the mountains,” is reflected in its offerings: mushroom market, mushroom cooking demos, fungus 5K, arts & crafts, and mountain history. If you’re lucky, you may come home with some coveted morel mushrooms from the Mountain Mushroom Festival.
Feast of the Ramson
Richwood, West Virginia
The garlicky wild onion, known as a ramp, is celebrated each spring in Richwood, West Virginia, known as the ramp capital of the world. Festival-goers can enjoy a dinner of ramps, potatoes, brown beans, cornbread, ham and bacon, desserts, and Sassafras tea while local Appalachian music plays
Poke Sallet Festival
Poke sallet is made up of cooked leaves of the poisonous pokeweed plant, making it a delicious - and edible - dish popular in the South. This Kentucky festival celebrates the dish with crafts, a car show, games, and more for a few days each June.
In a celebration of all things pickled, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shuts down one of its bridges to host Picklesburgh, which features a pickle juice drinking contest, pickle ice cream, pickle beer, and much more. It’s even been rated as USA Today’s #1 Specialty Food Festival.
Chow Chow Asheville Food Festival
Asheville, North Carolina
Rather than one week-long event, the Chow Chow Asheville Food Festival takes place over a series of weekends throughout the summer. These weekends feature dinners, hands-on workshops, and conversations around topics that impact the local community.
Ohio PawPaw Festival
Celebrate one of America’s largest native tree fruits, the pawpaw, in Albany, Ohio. The pawpaw has a creamy, custardy texture and a tropical flavor; many describe it as a mix between a banana and mango. You can see for yourself by enjoying samples at the festival, workshops, eating contests, and art shows.
Apple Butter Festival
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Head over to America’s first spa town to indulge in the delights of fall flavor. The Berkeley Springs Apple Butter Festival features giant copper kettles in the middle of town, and all attendees have an opportunity to take a stir. The festival kicks off with amorning parade and is followed up with a baked goods contest, dozens of vendors selling homemade apple butter, and live entertainment.
Alabama Pecan Festival
Whether you say pee-can or puh-cahn, you’re welcome to Mobile, Alabama, to celebrate the brown nut every November. The pecan is the state nut, and festivities feature family-friendly entertainment, fresh pecans, pecan pies, and the crowning of the new Alabama Pecan Festival Queen.
More than 35 breweries are displayed in Nashville during the Winter Warmer so patrons can sample everything from sours and seasonal to barrel-aged beers and barley wine. Plus, food trucks and entertainment will also be on tap.
There are many more festivals and fairs celebrating foods than those listed here. Whether you want to learn more about buckwheat cakes or barbecue, there is a festival - or two or three - to celebrate it.
Plan your year ahead with this handy list and add your favorites for a full year of delicious food and drink across the region. And share your photos and stories as you explore the foods communities hold dear.