The joys of welcoming in a new season are often associated with the foods we’re able to eat again — with summer come strawberries and peaches, with the fall come cranberries. A household celebration of seasonal offerings can mean an upgraded fruit salad, dessert, or even a fruit salsa. Apparently those efforts seem paltry to festival organizers around the country who have either created or stepped in to maintain these historical festivals honoring local fruits. From the Georgia Peach Festival to the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, there is never a time when locally grown fruits aren’t being celebrated somewhere in the U.S.
Even fruits that are lesser known get their time in the spotlight, with Ohio’s festival honoring the pawpaw or Delaware’s celebration of apple-scrapple attracting people from regions near and far for taste tests. These festivals aren’t just about indulging in delicious fruits, either. There are cooking competitions, arts and crafts, live music, throwing contests, traditional dances, and harvest tours celebrating each fruit inside and out.
Is there a festival we missed? Share your recommendations and comments with us below!
Sussex County, Del.
October 14-15, 2011
October is a time for celebration as fall fruits and local fare are featured at this Delaware festival. The Apple-Scrapple Festival draws over 25,000 visitors each year. Known to locals as “everything but the oink," Scrapple is traditionally made with pork scraps, cornmeal, and spices. This beloved regional oddity is a signature dish traditionally served with apple butter. Festival events include a Scrapple Chunkin’ Contest where contestants chuck packages of scrapple shot-put-style, the Mayor’s Scrapple Sling, and the Ladies Skillet Toss, which provides an 8-inch cast iron skillet to women looking to prove themselves. Contestants are judged on the best of two throws. Open to all mayors or members of council, the Mayor’s Scrapple Sling involves still more scrapple throwing — this time, for distance.
November 4-13, 2011
Hawaii’s unique terroir has produced exceptional quality coffee in the Kona region for over 175 years. Volcanic soil and mountain mist develop Kona’s signature flavor, which is well balanced with great body and good acidity. Coffee this complex and delicious deserves its own annual festival. Cue the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, which includes such caffeinated events as the Kona Coffee Pageant, a recipe contest, Lantern Parade, Bon Dance (a traditionally Japanese dance honoring ancestors), an art exhibit, and the Kona Coffee Picking Contest. Colorful costumes celebrating Hawaii’s natural heritage and a culinary competition highlighting the use of coffee in entrées and desserts round out the festival’s events. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/ardie96750)
August 19-21, 2011
The blueberry is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants and few know how to celebrate this small berry in all its glory than the organizers of the 36th Annual Machias Wild Blueberry Festival in Maine. Native to Maine, the little blue fruits are harvested and featured in a number of events and contests. They host the classic pie-eating contest, a quilt raffle, and a banner contest, as well as a cooking contest with such categories as dessert cakes, appetizers, breads, pancakes & waffles, and doughnuts all in celebration of the mighty blueberry. (Photo couresy of Flickr/keithcarver,)
September 16-18, 2011
The pawpaw known as the “poor man’s banana, has a custard-like flesh and unique combination of tropical flavors, mainly banana, mango, and pineapple. Native to Ohio, this exotic and little known fruit enjoys its day in the sun at the Annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival. With a pawpaw cook-off, Best Pawpaw Competition, and Pawpaw Double Nickel Bicycle Ride, this festival celebrates the inner and outer beauty of this local treat. Studying up before the festival is an absolute must if you plan on entering the Best Pawpaw Competition, which surveys contestants’ knowledge of what makes a good pawpaw. Whomever can describe the flavor and specific characteristics best wins. (Photo courtesy of Flickr)
Coral Gables, Fla.
July 9-10, 2011
Few fruits can pull off having such a grand festival revolve solely around them. The Annual International Mango Festival, though, places mangoes on their well-deserved pedestal. Hosted in Florida, this year’s festival will celebrate the mangoes of Hawaii. The festival will host a Mangoes of the World Display, featuring an international array of mangoes, mango culinary demonstrations, a mango auction, and a unique mango brunch and botanical art exhibit. Public taste tests showcasing the wonders of this worldly fruit seem only right.