A Year in Food: Festivals Worth the Drive

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A good feast has always been an integral part of bringing people together. The only two things required for any celebration are a hearty plate of food and good friends. Hence the popularity of food festivals. 

Food and beverage festivals have become a staple in most towns across the U.S., and chances are, there’s an event dedicated to your favorite dish. From southern barbecue to crisp apples, local chefs come together to show off their skills—all you have to do is eat.

For a taste of what the South has to offer, head to any of these festivals in and around Savannah. Start filling in your calendar—you’ve got a busy year of eating ahead.

1. Watermelon Days Festival – Cordele, Georgia

June 24, 2017  

Cordele’s Watermelon Days Festival is in its 68th year, and there will be plenty of the summertime fruit to go around. The town celebrates the occasion all month long, but June 24 is a can’t-miss competition day, including the watermelon eating contest, the watermelon chunking contest and—of course—the seed spitting showdown. Dance the night away at the Watermelon Days Dance and end the evening with a spectacular fireworks show.

2. Brooklet Peanut Festival – Brooklet, Georgia

August 19, 2017 

This festival in downtown Brooklet (less than an hour from Savannah) is a full-day affair. The morning begins with a 5k Peanut Run, followed by the annual Peanut Parade through downtown. After that, the day goes on with tractor races, local crafts and plenty of food to keep you full until long after the street dance ends.

3. Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival – Kennesaw, Georgia

 August 25-26, 2017  

What started as a backyard barbecue competition has grown into an annual event with more than 65,000 attendees in Kennesaw’s Adams Park. Local grillers still compete for the top prize while festival goers feast on plates from some of the best vendors in the area. Contests include amateur and professional barbecue cook-offs, a peach dessert showdown and even a kids competition for ages 7 to 15.

4. Shrimp & Grits Festival – Jekyll Island, Georgia

September 15-17, 2017 

Head south down I-95 to Jekyll Island for the annual Shrimp & Grits festival. The whole family can dig into the favorite southern combo while enjoying more than 100 arts and crafts vendors, family-friendly entertainment, live music and wildlife demonstrations. You can head to the Food Truck Park and craft brew fest to satisfy your taste buds—or stick to the multiple chefs serving up their authentic shrimp and grits recipes all weekend long.

 5. Pin Point Seafood Festival – Savannah, Georgia

September 16, 2017 

Back for its fifth year, Savannah’s Pin Point Seafood Festival returns this September. This festival highlights the Pin Point community’s rich history in Savannah and allows you to experience some of the greatest seafood recipes that have been handed down through generations. You can also enjoy live music, games and educational activities to help you learn more about the Pin Point community, so there’s plenty of entertainment for the whole family.

6. Beaufort Shrimp Festival – Beaufort, South Carolina

October 6-7, 2017 

Head to downtown Beaufort this October where 15 local restaurants will compete against each other for the Silver Cup award for winning shrimp dish. You can sample their creations for yourself and vote for your favorite meal in the People’s Choice Award. The kids can participate in the shrimp peeling competition while you try your hand at shrimp heading, and then adopt a shrimp in the Sea Island Rotary’s Charity Rubber Shrimp Race. The Beaufort Shrimp Festival also features a 5K run/walk, plenty of live entertainment and an arts and crafts festival put on by local vendors.

7. Georgia Apple Festival – Ellijay, Georgia

October 14-15 and 21-22, 2017 

Over 300 vendors set up shop at the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay to show off their handmade items and give live demonstrations of how their crafts are made. Each weekend of the festival features different events, from the annual parade and car show to the apple pie and cake recipe contests. And of course, with more than 10 orchards throughout the Ellijay area, there will be plenty of apple picking opportunities for the family.

8. Taste of Atlanta – Atlanta, Georgia

October 20-22, 2017  

While Atlanta has a food festival nearly every weekend, Taste of Atlanta is the foodie event you can’t miss. Nearly 100 local restaurants will be serving up some of their best dishes while Atlanta chefs show off their skills on four live cooking stages. Kitchen workshops will send you home with insider cooking tips, and the Kids Food Zone will put budding young chefs to the test. Head over to the Big Green Egg Grilling Stage to see the versatility of the backyard barbecue staple, and watch local mixologists serve up their favorite concoctions at the Barcraft Competition.

9. Savannah Food & Wine Festival – Savannah, Georgia

November 6-12, 2017 

For one week, you can experience the best culinary delights of Savannah. With multiple events daily, from a whisky tasting to a food tour of River Street to the main Taste of Savannah event, the goal is to eat and drink your way through the city. Vote for your favorite cocktail at the Secret Savannah Speakeasy, sample world class barbecue and toast brunch at the Westin Savannah Harbor. Price varies by event, and many of the tastings are included with the ticket price.

10. Vidalia Onion Festival – Vidalia, Georgia

April 26-29, 2018 

For four days each spring, the Vidalia Onion Festival celebrates the harvesting of Georgia’s state vegetable. Friday is always the official start of the festival, with sidewalk vendors, an opening ceremony, street dance and fireworks. You can go for a jog in the Kiwanis Onion Run, or spend the weekend attending the Air Show and Carnival, cheering on your favorite vidalia onion eater, perusing the arts and crafts booths and eating your way through the public onion tasting. Then settle in for the festival concert to close the weekend.

11. Georgia Blueberry Festival – Alma, Georgia

June 1-2, 2018  

Join Alma and Bacon Counties for their annual blueberry festival to honor the local farmers involved in the blueberry industry, as well as U.S. veterans. This patriotic themed festival takes place just after Memorial Day each year, and includes parades, a blueberry cook off, performances from local bands, and rides and games for the whole family. Look through the goods offered by local vendors and snack on blueberry-themed treats made from local produce.