August Food Festivals

By: Jose Ralat Maldonado

August is about as hot as it gets each year, in terms of the temperature and the good-eats celebrations. It's especially true for the hauls of seafood, corn and blueberry festivals this month. Below are our pick of the pecks.

Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland, Maine, Aug. 1–5: Vacationland is booming, fueled by bountiful catches of crustaceans that end up predominantly in lobster rolls. This is not a bad thing — it should be celebrated. And that's what the small town of Rockland has done since 1947. The modern festival includes more than 20,000 pounds of lobster, a fantastical parade replete with giant lobster, the crowning of the Sea Goddess and loads of competitions. Beyond the professional and amateur cooking contests, there are blindfold rowboat and lobster crate races. For those who can't stomach the crack of claw and tail, there are all-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts.

Blueberry Arts Festival, Ketchikan, Ark., Aug. 3–5: More than fish is grown in the land of tundra and groceries via seaplane. The tart summertime burst of berries is also found in the 49th state. For that, Alaskans are grateful and because of that, they party. This annual festival is more than a platform for bragging about your best blueberry dish. The three-day happening involves a slug weigh-in (yes, that kind of mollusk) a race and a pie-eating contest. Attendees can also take part in local arts and crafts, a mini-beer festival and a doll parade.

West Point Sweet Corn Festival, West Point, Iowa, Aug. 9–12: From berries to corn, the sweet hits keep coming. This corn-country festival has been going strong for 60 years (it’s a major corniversary!). Aside from the requisite food fete entertainment (carnival, barbecue music, royal coronation, etc.), the West Point Sweet Corn Festival hosts a shucking contest, water fights, bathtub races and tons of free corn. Don’t forget to try your hand at horseshoes.

Lemon Festival, Chula Vista, Calif., Aug. 12: Pucker up and smile: The self-proclaimed lemon capital of the world is about to shine bright yellow. Non-lemon-oriented highlights include a fantasy hair competition, carnival rides and two eating contests (pie and banh mi). Musical groups will entertain thousands from three stages, while lemons are integrated into every dish, doily and sweater. Do you have the juice to squeeze in that much fun in one day?

National Hamburger Festival, Akron, Ohio, Aug. 18–19: Patty on in the Midwest at this two-day shindig, perhaps the only time and place one can go bobbing for burgers in a kiddie pool filled with ketchup. That humbling experience can only be followed by entry into the cheesy dance-off or the cheesiest couple contest. Of course, there are otherwise topical activities, like a burger cooking competition, the crowning of the Hamburger Festival Queen and a Jimmy Buffet tribute band. Talk about paradise.

Gueydan Duck Festival, Gueydan, La., Aug. 23–26: With a nod to the region's duck-hunting heritage, the Gueydan Duck Festival takes flight with pageantry and parades, as well as indoor and outdoor cook-offs. The Cajun Country affair lets folks participate in a skeet-shooting tournament, enter their pooches into dog trials and whittle away the competition during a carving match. You'll be quacking by the end of this four-day hootenanny, even if you don’t enter into the duck- and goose-calling contests.

The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, Austin, Texas, Aug. 26: It's only natural that hot sauce be honored at the peak of summer in Austin, Texas. And we're betting the high temperatures are going to be hotter than the smokers at Franklin Barbecue during the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. Established by champion and troubadour of Tex-Mex Robb Walsh while he was at the city's alt weekly, this celebration of the caliente condiment is entering its 22nd edition. But don’t expect many big-shot manufacturers. The Hot Sauce Festival gives more than 350 entries submitted by amateurs, restaurants and small-time commercial bottlers the opportunity to ignite as many as 15,000 palates. It's sure to be a blazing good time.

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