July Food Festivals

By: Jose Ralat Maldonado

Summer is here, and with it comes a mixed bag of  July food festivals that cool down and spice up Americans nationwide.  Check out where to festively eat this month.

SIB: Seattle International Beerfest, Seattle, Wash., July 1-3: Summer without beer is like Christmas without eggnog. One of the Northwest’s best beer cities is offering visitors the opportunity to sample beer in all its quaffable glory. From Galactic Imperial Red and Franziskaner to Mikkeller Green Gold and Love & Hoppiness by Rogue, 130 beers will be available. Classic bar games, including darts, will be free to play and live musical entertainment will tickle your ears as palates are pleased. However, if you miss this one, the Portland International Beerfest will be held July 15-17.

Wheat Festival, Wellington, Kan., July 6-10: The mother of all grains has a capital city and it is this breadbasket town, where the 111 th Annual Wheat Festival mixes a smidge of education (KS Flour Sacks-History on a Piece of Cloth and Fire Safety House) with bushels of diversion that include pageants as well as pie-eating and cooking contests. Also on the docket are sand-sculpting and paper-airplane competitions, kids’ games and a horseshoe tourney. But it doesn’t end there. The celebration of the most important foodstuff in human history has room for a wheat cake breakfast, a car show, an ice cream social and loads more for visitors.

Elsie Dairy Festival, Elsie, Mich., July 7-9: This celebration of milk and those who work in the dairy industry packs in three days of fun that are as wholesome as one can get. Attendees will be treated to a pancake breakfast, pony rides, a tractor pull and bingo. The Dairy Festival royalty will be crowned. Surrounded by all that calcium should make the 2011 Elsie Dairy Dash 5K Run and Walk or participation in the Talent Show a breeze.

World’s Largest Catsup Bottle Festival, Collinsville, Ill., July 10: Taking its name from the city’s ketchup bottle-shaped water tower, this one-day fair isn’t the average food festival. Sure, there is a ketchup-covered hot-dog eating contest and an automotive show, not to mention the crowning of Little Princess Tomato and Sir Catsup. However, there is also the ceremonial singing of “Happy Birthday” to the water tower, followed by birthday cake. The ketchup taste test and the traveling exhibit of the World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things make this the must-attend food-related shindig of the month.

Jefferson Mint Festival and Frog Jump, Jefferson, Ore., July 15-17: In this international capital of mint, the frog-jumping contest is more than the comic setting of a Mark Twain story. It’s a small-town fixture and the main event in a region full of high-profile attractions. (Jefferson is in the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s wine country lauded for its Pinot Noir.) The Mint Festival also hosts a pageant, as any self-respecting food festival would, along with sack races, live musical entertainment and a car show. You’ll want to hop to it.

Kolacky Days, Montgomery, Minn., July 22-24: Since 1929, locals have feted the humble stuffed pastry of Eastern European origin with a party as tremendous as the kolacky is filling. Naturally, there is a kolacky-baking contest to go along with other hearty bohemian fare and the speedy Tour de Bun bike race. Theater, parades (one for pets, too), Czech folk dancing as well as sporting events help round out one of the most visited festivals in the area.

Louisiana Watermelon Festival, Farmerville, La., July 28-30: Aside from a large glass of ice water, watermelon is the best way to beat the heat. One could call the fruit an edible air-conditioner. First held in 1963, the Louisiana Watermelon Festival includes a seed-spitting contest (aside from the usual eating contest), arm-wrestling and tricycle races. A special breakfast is held for the farmers who enter the watermelon judging for weight and quality, the latter of which is determined by measuring the fruit’s sugar content. Other sweet happenings scheduled are a best-dressed contest, a dance and a race. Life will indeed be sweet when you visit this northern Louisiana festival.

Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, Atlantic City, N.J., July 28-31: No one leaves this star-studded culinary bash hungry for more, be it celebrity chef sightings, dish samplings or useful tips. But it’s not all red carpet and high-intensity spotlights that will be found here. Classic food-festival fun will abound. Guy Fieri will host chefs competing in the Cheese Steak Battle. Robert Irvine will take on the kitchens of the Caesars, Harrah’s Resort, Showboat and Bally’s casinos to serve up locally sourced meals. At the Beers, Blues and BBQ party, Pat and Gina Neely will bring together a delicious triumvirate. Also on tap are a cigar-and-whiskey soiree, a gospel and so much more that it will be difficult to be star-struck amid the bounty of eats and drinks.

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July Food Festivals

Whether you’d like to cool down or heat things up this month, there is a food festival for everyone in July.