As we head into the bustling fall season, we’re excited about crisper temps and festival fall outings. If you’re mapping out your fall plans, be sure to add some of these top fall food festivals and foodie events to your agenda. There’s no shortage of tasty bites and beverages that await!
The Top Food Festivals & Foodie Events for Fall 2018
September 7-9, 2018: Kentucky State BBQ Festival — Danville, KY
Celebrity pitmasters face off in a professional category along with backyard grillers in multiple cooking categories at this event that gathers barbecue lovers from across the state. Seven bands provide musical entertainment throughout the weekend of eating and family fun.
September 7-15, 2018: Charleston Beer Week — Charleston, SC
Charleston certainly has earned a vaunted reputation as a food city, but they brew some pretty fine beer in Chucktown, too! With more than two dozen production breweries in the area, there’s plenty of craft brew to sample during this week of special tasting events.
September 9, 2018: Magic City Mac N’ Cheese Festival — Birmingham, AL
You have to admire the focus of this event and also the subject of the organizers’ obsession. Who doesn’t love a creamy bowl of mac n’ cheese? Some of Birmingham’s best restaurants, caterers and food trucks offer up their versions of the cheesy favorite during an afternoon of comfort food.
September 12-16, 2018: Kentucky Bourbon Festival — Bardstown, KY
Approximately 50,000 visitors will gather in Bardstown, KY, the heart of Bourbon Country, for a week of special events hosted by many of the region’s historic distilleries. The festival features multiple tastings and behind-the-scenes tours that aren’t usually available to spirits tourists during the rest of the year.
September 14-16, 2018: Music City Food + Wine Festival — Nashville, TN
In its sixth year, the Music City Food + Wine Festival is going even bigger with three days of tasting tents, chef demos, entertaining educational panels and a nighttime music event featuring food provided by national celebrity chefs and a musical lineup curated by local rockers, Kings of Leon. A Sunday gospel brunch finishes off the weekend of food and fun with a spiritual flourish.
September 14-16, 2018: Shrimp & Grits Festival — Jekyll Island, GA
The idyllic locale of Jekyll Island plays host to this festival honoring the iconic dish of shrimp & grits. The festival is free to attend, and local restaurants and food trucks will be selling their versions of the Southern staple. Visitors will also enjoy family-friendly entertainment, an artists’ market, live music, kids’ zone, a craft brew fest, wildlife demonstrations and more.
September 20-23, 2018: euphoria — Greenville, SC
After more than a decade of events, euphoria has taken a deserved spot among some of the South’s best food and drink festivals. Local chefs, pitmasters, mixologists and artisans team up with guests to put on a weekend of festive foodie-centric events situated up and down Greenville’s cozy main street.
September 22, 2018: Rome Beer Festival — Rome, GA
When in Rome, drink some great beer! Dozens of local and regional breweries showcase their crafty brews at this festival along with food available from vendors and a homebrew competition for amateurs to show off their skills. There’s also a premier VIP-level ticket that includes a Brews Cruise, an hour-long ride on the Roman Holiday the morning of the festival, complete with hors-d’oeuvres, a special beer tasting with a brewery representative and transportation to the beer festival.
September 22-23, 2018: Bourbon & Beyond — Louisville, KY
National touring acts like Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, Sting, Robert Plant and Lenny Kravitz share the stage with Kentucky bourbon stars from some of the state’s great distilleries. Attendees can enjoy tastings and educational seminars in between musical performances at this festival which stretches across Champions Park. Camping sites are also available, including upscale tents called “Louisvillas.”
September 22, 2018: Plains Peanut Festival — Plains, GA
This festival commemorates America’s most famous peanut farmer since George Washington Carver. President Jimmy Carter put Plains, GA, on the map, and this event celebrates the primary agricultural product of the area with educational exhibits, a parade and a road race.
September 30, 2018: Cahaba River Fry-Down — Birmingham. AL
This massive fish fry benefits the Cahaba River Society that works to protect the Cahaba River, which is the Mobile Bay’s watershed and the region’s primary drinking water source. Teams prepare catfish in many ways: fried, smoked, grilled and sautéed. A panel of judges picks a winner, and attendees sample all the offerings to award a crowd favorite. There are plenty of activities for kids and a beer garden for adults, so make a day of it.
October 4-6, 2018: Birmingham Greek Food Festival — Birmingham, AL
Birmingham has a large and active Greek community, and many of them are involved in culinary businesses. Home cooks are the stars of this event, as they prepare platters of dolmathes, souvlakia, Greek chicken and pasticho for dining in or carrying out along with tasty Greek pastries to satisfy any sweet tooth.
October 4-7, 2018: Wine Over Water Wine & Food Festival — Chattanooga, Tennessee
Wine Over Water, sponsored by Publix, is back for the 24th year with a plethora of events taking place throughout Chattanooga in some of the city’s most beautiful historic buildings! Chattanooga promises to treat you to a weekend of fun that will be well worth the trip. Events include a kick-off party, brewery tour, wine dinners, yoga brunch and of course, Wine of Water on Walnut Street Bridge.
October 6, 2018: Rock Shrimp Festival — St. Marys, GA
These hard-shelled crustaceans were considered a trash catch for years because they were so difficult to extract the meat from. However, once someone invented a machine to clean these tough little buggers, diners realized how delicious rock shrimp can be. This day of celebration kicks off with a road race and a parade and is highlighted by plate dinners featuring boiled shrimp, fried fish, slaw and hushpuppies for just $10 if you buy your plate in advance.
October 6, 2018: Corkdorks 2018 Nashville Whiskey Festival — Nashville, TN
Corkdorks 2018 Nashville Whiskey Festival is celebrating this beloved spirit through an exploration of whiskey from around the world. Festival-goers are invited to taste, learn, explore and experience all of the liquor’s nuances. Sample the world’s finest international and American-made whiskeys, bourbons and scotches, and interact with distillers and their representatives — a rare treat for whiskey lovers old and new and an experience you won’t soon forget!
October 12-14, 2018: Fall for Greenville — Greenville, SC
More than 40 restaurants will be serving up delightful fare from their menus at Fall for Greenville. This free event will showcase 250+ menu items for tasting as well as 75 musical acts, wine tastings, a kids’ area, competitions, cooking demos and a host of craft beers in the beer garden.
October 18-20, 2018: Delta Hot Tamale Festival — Greenville, MS
Some of the greatest tamales you’ll ever find are sold by the jug on counters of convenience stores and gas stations in Mississippi Delta towns like Greenville and Clarksdale. The Delta Hot Tamale Festival celebrates the region’s artists, musicians and tamale makers as well as some of the South’s most influential chefs and writers as part of a three-day festival. Don’t miss out on the Miss Hot Tamale pageant!
October 19-21, 2018: Taste of Atlanta — Atlanta, GA
This festival highlights the diversity of Atlanta’s restaurant scene with chef demos, hands-on cooking classes and tastings from almost 100 neighborhood favorite eateries. The VIP Experience also includes samples of craft beers, wine and creative cocktails.
October 20, 2018: Louisville Wine & Food Experience — Louisville, KY
This day-long tasting event features local Louisville chefs along with a cooking demonstration by chef, restaurateur, author and judge on Food Network’s “Chopped,” Scott Conant. It is in Kentucky, after all, so you can expect plenty of great booze, beer and wine as well.
October 20, 2018: South End Wine Fest — Charlotte, NC
Enjoy unlimited samples from 25 wineries at this intimate tasting event in the hip Charlotte neighborhood of South End. Food trucks will be on hand to serve provisions and live bands will get you to move your feet to the music.
October 20, 2018: Decatur Craft Beer Festival — Decatur, GA
Plan for a full day of drinking (and for a ride home) at this convivial beer festival which features tastings from more than 80 craft breweries. A special VIP-level ticket provides funds to the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild and their advocacy efforts and entitles patrons access to beers brewed specifically for the Decatur Craft Beer Festival. You look like a VIP to us, so go for it!
October 20, 2018: Cooper-Young Beer Fest — Memphis, TN
This festival raises funds for the Cooper-Young Community Association to keep the neighborhood clean, friendly, safe and welcoming to all visitors, and the local theme extends to who is invited to participate in the beer tastings. All the breweries must be within a day’s drive, ensuring that all the products have a regional connection to the popular Memphis neighborhood.
October 27-28, 2018: Jack Daniels’ World Championship Invitational BBQ — Lynchburg, TN
This is one of the “big daddies” of the competitive barbecue circuit. All contestants must have already won some sort of state championship to qualify for consideration to participate at “The Jack,” so the competition is fierce. International teams and backyard barbecuers are also invited to compete in separate divisions. If you hang out next to the main pavilion during judging, you might even get lucky enough to have somebody sneak you a sample of championship-level meat!
November 4, 2018: Kosher Nashville Hot Chicken Festival — Nashville, TN
Just when you thought that Nashville Hot Chicken had already saturated the public psyche (we’re looking at you, KFC!), somebody introduces another twist. This benefit for the Gordon Jewish Community Center requires that all competing cook teams follow kosher practices in the preparation of their piquant poultry. That means that most teams fry their birds in schmaltz (chicken fat), and we’re not complaining.
November 5-11, 2018: Savannah Food & Wine Festival — Savannah, GA
This week-long festival brings food fans to venues all around the charming city of Savannah, showcasing the bars and restaurants of the historic Southern town. More than 300 vendors participate in the “Taste of Savannah” soirée, and wine, beer and spirits flow freely at most of the events throughout the festival.
November 7-11, 2018: World Food Championships — Orange Beach, AL
Hundreds of culinary teams travel to The Wharf at Orange Beach to compete in ten categories for a chance to be judged at “The Final Table” where the winners of each category face off for the title of World Food Champion and the $100,000 grand prize. Attendees can take part in judging classes to be certified to judge at qualifying events in the year leading up to the WFC or even be a part of a panel at the big event next year. The leading event in the world of food sport, there’s no better way to get up close with the competitors than attending WFC.
November 9, 2018: Boudin, Bourbon & Beer — New Orleans, LA
More than 60 regional and local chefs gather in the shadow of the Superdome to show off their spins on boudin, Louisiana’s signature rice sausage. Some of the Big Easy’s most famous chefs join pitmasters and line cooks to create unique takes of boudin, and open bars serve beer, wine and cocktails while musical acts keep the party pumping.
November 15-18, 2018: Music to Your Mouth — Palmetto Bluff, SC
One of the South’s most luxurious food festivals, Music to Your Mouth is a first-class affair in every aspect. Accommodations in the Inn and guest houses of Palmetto Bluff are top-notch, and the chefs who prepare special meals through the festival and put on intimate educational seminars held in private homes are all the cream of the crop. The musical aspect of the festival is also important, including a special concert on Saturday night that features a surprise headliner musical act that is unknown to anyone but the innermost circle of the festival organizing staff.
November 16, 2018: Celebration in the Oaks — New Orleans
During the holiday season, City Park turns into a winter wonderland of sparkling lights with displays scattered across the 25 acres of the park. The opening night preview party celebration is always a highlight with food and drink stations featuring products from some of the best restaurants and bars in New Orleans spread across the grounds of City Park. Stroll with a cocktail or take a ride on the holiday train or the historic carousel. Dress warmly, because it’s usually good snuggling weather.
For more happenings across the South, subscribe to our newsletter! The best of the South in your inbox, daily.