We brought you “part one” of our 2017 calendar of Southern foodie events and festivals earlier this year, and today we bring you part two!
Summer brings forth the bounty of the South, with farmers, ranchers, vintners, brewers and distillers releasing their very finest products. All over the region, festivals and restaurants take advantage of this cornucopia to create amazing cuisine and put on food and drink festivals to venerate the best of the South. Pack your stretchy pants and make plans to take part in some of these events.
The 2017 Southern Foodie Events & Festival Guide: Part Two
June 17, 2017: Soul Food Festival — Louisville, Kentucky
Waterfront Park will be the site for some old school music and soul food as some of your favorite R&B bands make a stop on their national tour of food and frivolity. Multiple vendors will be serving up hearty and heartfelt plates of meats and greens to keep the party pumping. As Cameo sings, “Word up!”
June 17, 2017: Taste of Music City — Nashville, Tennessee
The 15th edition of this popular tasting event returns to Public Square Park, where dozens of Nashville’s favorite chefs and restaurants will distribute bite-size samples of their cuisine and put on cooking demonstrations. Come hungry!
June 17, 2017: RC and Moon Pie Festival — Bell Buckle, Tennessee
Thousands of visitors descend on this quaint Middle Tennessee town to celebrate the regional treats of RC Cola and Moon Pies. Once a working man’s lunch box stuffer, these Southern staples are revered at the festival through a parade, a 10-mile run, arts and crafts, live music and fun for the whole family.
June 22, 2017: Southern Grace Dinners — Orange Beach, Alabama
Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina is well-known as one of the finest restaurants along the Gulf Coast, and Chef Bill Brand has earned the respect of chefs and restaurateurs around the region. Some of them will be joining him in the kitchen for special Southern Grace Dinners throughout the summer, with events planned for 6/22, 7/13, 7/27 and 8/3. As if you needed another reason to visit the sandy white beaches of the Alabama coast, here it is.
June 24, 2017: Seoul of the South Tour — Duluth, Georgia
Gwinnett County is located northeast of downtown Atlanta and is home to some of the region’s finest international food. This particular tour focuses on food prepared by the county’s Korean community who have settled in the area over the past three decades. From bakeries to barbecue, it’s an exotic journey worth taking.
June 25, 2017: Cochon555 — Atlanta, Georgia
It’s all about the pig at this stop in the national Cochon555 tour, where five local chefs team up with five heritage breed hog farmers and five winemakers to create elaborate presentations of dishes made from every part of the animal. A panel of judges will pick a winner to go on to the national finals, and all attendees will have the opportunity to sample each dish plus food from many other invited guest chefs.
June 29, 2017: Culinary Fight Club — Charlotte, North Carolina
Your ticket to this competitive cooking event entitles you to “beer, bites and a ballot” as you pick between pitmasters to help determine the “Taster’s Choice Winner.” And who doesn’t love drinking beer, eating barbecue and getting to be all judgemental?
July 4, 2017: Nashville Hot Chicken Festival — Nashville, Tennessee
This yearly festival pays homage to Nashville’s fiery fowl, and the July 4th date and collection of local hot chicken vendors ensures that it will be a blazing occasion. While the lines for free samples can get long, the delicious crispy and insanely peppery poultry waiting for you at the other end make it worth the wait.
July 7 & 8, 2017: Chef & Maker Weekend — Pinehurst, North Carolina
Pinehurst Resort has been hosting this series of culinary weekends throughout the summer, pairing guest chefs with creative artisans for a few days of interactive demonstrations, workshops and chef’s dinners to demonstrate the breadth and depth of the South’s creative talents. The July guest will be James Beard award-winning chef Ashley Christensen from Raleigh, NC, where she operates a group of amazing restaurants, most notably Poole’s Diner, the subject of her first cookbook.
July 15 & 16, 2017: Memphis Eats Food Festival — Memphis, Tennessee
This two-day festival features some of the most beloved restaurants in Memphis along with live music and fun activities for the entire family. A portion of the proceeds from the weekend goes to benefit The Memphis Eats Foundation and the Mid-South Food Bank, so you’ll be doing good while you’re eating well!
July 20, 2017: Nourish — Nashville, Tennessee
Nourish is the primary annual fundraiser for the Nashville Food Project, a non-profit organization that uses donated food plus the bounty of their own gardens to prepare meals for the city’s underprivileged and undernourished communities. Volunteers cook and deliver complete meals in food trucks across the city. The Nourish dinner raises money for these efforts through a dinner featuring guest chefs and a lively auction.
July 20-22, 2017: L’ete du Vin — Nashville, Tennessee
The noble mission of the Nashville Wine Auction is to unite the local community of wine lovers to raise money to support the fight against cancer. L’ete du Vin is a three-day series of tastings, dinners and auctions, which makes up the country’s longest-running charity wine auction. This year’s theme is “California Collectibles” and should bring some amazing wines to the table.
August 6, 2017: Magic City Mac ‘n’ Cheese Festival — Birmingham, Alabama
When the Community Grief Support group looked for a food to feature at their first fundraising festival, they wisely chose one of the best “feel-good” foods that ever graced a plate: mac ‘n’ cheese. In another wise move, they planned the festival to be held at Avondale Brewing to turn the good times up a notch.
August 7-11, 2017: Dr. Brownstone’s Sweet Summer LuvLuv Festival — Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Dr. Brownstone is the fictitious alter ego of Chef Timothy Grandinetti of the Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar, and the good doctor is fond of inviting his friends over to play in the kitchen during a week in summer. This year, seven chefs will join him to prepare five nights of grill-inspired tasting menus accompanied by wine, spirits and regional craft brews.
August 11 & 12, 2017: Tomato Art Festival — Nashville, Tennessee
The organizers of this cheeky festival insist that the tomato is “A uniter, not a divider … bringing together fruits & vegetables.” The streets of East Nashville will be filled with festival-goers wearing their finest tomato-centric garb and participating in cooking contests, tomato haiku readings and live music that runs all day and late into the night. There’s also a festive parade, so if you fall behind, ketchup! (Sorry, had to!)
August 22-24, 2017: BevCon — Charleston, South Carolina
In just its second year, this collection of spirits industry professionals, bar and restaurant owners, mixologists and journalists has become one of the most important gatherings of talent in the country. Attendees learn from each other during educational seminars throughout the day, sample new and exotic spirits at tasting sessions and then hit the bars of Charleston with a vengeance during the evenings. Fortunately, there’s plenty of coffee in the mornings.
August 26, 2017: Wine Fest ATL — Atlanta, Georgia
This wine festival focuses on the wineries of Georgia, a hidden jewel of a grape-growing region that is just now starting to appear on the national radar. Multiple VIP sessions are available for patrons who want to sample rare and special wines before the biggest crowds come through the gates.
September 11-17, 2017: Kentucky Bourbon Festival — Bardstown, Kentucky
They began making bourbon in Bardstown the same year that the Declaration of Independence was signed, so this quaint little Kentucky town truly represents the heritage of American whiskey. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is six days of spirited events ranging from black tie galas to special tasting sessions that generally aren’t available to the general public. If you’re a fan of brown liquor, you should definitely taste it at the source.
September 15-17, 2017: Music City Food + Wine Festival — Nashville, Tennessee
No Southern culinary festival does a better job combining food and drink with music than the Music City Food + Wine Festival. The popular tasting tents and Harvest Night musical event return for this year’s iteration, but this year organizers have decided to give the Gospel Brunch its own spot on the calendar that doesn’t conflict with other activities. In addition to the new focus on this event on Sunday, a new Friday evening tasting tents session should make the festival even more … festive!
September 21-24, 2017: euphoria — Greenville, South Carolina
Greenville has been a culinary secret for so long that it’s really not a secret anymore. With more than 100 independent restaurants stretching through downtown, there’s plenty of homegrown talent to showcase at this entertaining food and drink festival. The tastings and dinners are decidedly casual, and many of them feature guest chefs and musicians from out of town. euphoria is so wonderfully low-key and laid back that they don’t even capitalize the name.
September 22-30, 2017: The Cliffs WINE + FOOD Festival — North and South Carolina
The Cliffs are seven communities spread across western North and South Carolina from Asheville to Greenville built around golf courses, equestrian centers, a beach club and a marina. Culinary arts are an important part of the lifestyle, and for more than a week all seven communities highlight great food and wine at a series of festival events. The week culminates with the Grand Tasting at Mountain Park on Saturday, September 30, with an event that features wine, beer and spirits tastings as well as cooking demonstrations.
September 23 & 24, 2017: Bourbon & Beyond — Louisville, Kentucky
Big-name musical acts, celebrity chefs and fine Kentucky bourbon come together at this major festival to create a real happening. In addition to two full days of rock and roots acts, there will be secret speakeasy pop-ups and bourbon seminars, as well as local and national chefs and mixologists to keep attendees fed and watered.
September 30, 2017: Irondale Whistle Stop Festival — Irondale, Alabama
The cafe that made fried green tomatoes famous in the Fannie Flagg novel and movie invites fans to the Birmingham suburb of Irondale for a day of food and entertainment. Shuttles will run attendees from the main stage to the cafe all day long so that they can experience all the food and music.
October 5-8, 2017: Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium — Oxford, Mississippi
Always the most important gathering of the SFA “tribe” of individuals who strive to investigate and glorify the heritage of Southern food at their annual symposium, this event in and around Oxford, Mississippi is also consistently entertaining and revolves around delicious food and drink. This year’s theme is “El Sur Latino” and will focus on the Hispanic influences on Southern food in the past and present.
October 7, 2017: SouthEast Crab Feast — Charlotte, North Carolina (and in Atlanta October 9)
This traveling lowcountry boil roadshow visits cities around the region to throw huge outdoor cooking parties. With stops in Charlotte and in Atlanta two days later, locals can expect to indulge in all-you-can-eat feasts of blue crab and fish and chips while enjoying live music and family entertainment. Bring your own crab mallet!
October 7, 2017: Best Memphis Burger Fest — Memphis, Tennessee
In a town known for great burgers, picking the very best one is a challenging proposition. So the Best Memphis Burger Fest divides the contest into three categories, plus there’s a Bloody Mary competition to determine the tops between buns. Volunteers can even sign up to be judges so you can pretend like it’s actually work.
October 14, 2017: EGGtoberfest — Stone Mountain, Georgia
If you have a friend who cooks on the Big Green Egg porcelain kamado cooker, odds are they really love it. And if you ask them, they’ll regale you with the benefits of their Egg until you finally walk away from them. Hundreds of Egg aficionados gather in the shadow of Stone Mountain to cook for each other as well as patrons who buy an inexpensive ticket to this celebration of the cult of the kamado.
October 14, 2017: Nashville Whiskey Festival — Nashville, Tennessee
Kentucky may be the center of the bourbon universe, but Tennessee is pretty proud of its whiskey also. Tennessee whiskeys along with other grain spirits are the stars of this one-day event that offers sips of rare and delicious whiskeys to the lucky few who are smart enough to purchase tickets in advance. Some of the more premium spirits may never even appear on the shelves of your local liquor store, so this might be your only opportunity.
October 14, 2017: Memphis Food & Wine Festival — Memphis, Tennessee
Local Memphis chefs join up with guest chefs from across the country for a day of food and wine tasting in the bucolic setting of The Live Garden at Memphis Botanical Garden, benefiting FedEx Family House. Of course, you know Memphis will have great music at any event, and the tasting tents are serenaded by bands playing a mix of jazz, blues and rock. Eat to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content.
October 19-21, 2017: Delta Hot Tamale Festival — Greenville, Mississippi
Tamales are a staple food in the Mississippi Delta, so Greenville is Ground Zero in the world of the hot tamale. Over this culinary weekend, cooks compete in different categories as well as in the tamale eating contest (29 in five minutes won last year!) and the Miss Hot Tamale pageant. There’s also a literary/culinary mash-up, which combines the written word with masa-wrapped goodness.
October 27 & 28, 2017: Made South — Louisville, Kentucky
Made South is a website, blog and podcast that revolves around identifying quality artisan products that are from and of the Southern region of the United States. At special events across the South, the company presents curated collections of their favorite products for shoppers to discover new crafts, food and clothing. If you missed the June event in Franklin, TN, and can’t make the September event in Atlanta, you’ll need to head to Louisville in October to see what’s up.
November 3 & 4, 2017: Hangout Oyster Cook-off — Gulf Shores, Alabama
This is probably the premier festival in the South celebrating the oyster in all its forms: raw, baked, broiled or fried. Chefs from around the region come to compete in cooking contests and shucking competitions. Attendees enjoy sampling the oysters along with craft beer, Bloody Marys and champagne, and SEC football is on every screen in the expansive Hangout entertainment complex. This is the South, after all.
November 5, 2017: Memphis Grilled Cheese Festival — Memphis, Tennessee
Contestants compete in categories such as “Most Cheesiest” and “Most Ridiculous” in this homage to the humble grilled cheese sandwich that also raises money for a local animal rescue organization. Attendees will be able to sample any of the contestants’ entries for a further donation to ALIVE Memphis Rescue, and there will also be live music and two bars available for even more entertainment.
November 8-14, 2017: World Food Championships — Orange Beach, Alabama
More than 1,000 competitors from home cooks to restaurant chefs come together to vie for the title of World Food Champion at this preeminent event in the world of food sport. Contestants qualify in regional events in multiple categories for the chance to meet at the “Final Table” for their share of $300,000 in prize money. Come to compete or just to watch and cheer on these fierce cheftestants.
December 2, 2017: 12South Winter Warmer — Nashville, Tennessee
Craft beer fans look forward all year to this opportunity to put on a winter jacket and gather under a huge tent to sample special beers from around the South at the 12South Winter Warmer. Some of these brews only appear for this one day, so skip it at your own peril. You cannot beat this festival when it comes to a sense of convivial camaraderie as folks huddle close to stay warm as they sip on rare beers.
Check out our SB Travel section for more ideas on travel in the South and beyond … your next vacation awaits!