Best Fruit Festivals In America

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!



20th Annual Bridgeville Apple-Scrapple Festival 

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.


41st Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

Kona, Hawaii

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)


36th Annual Machias Wild Blueberry Festival

Machias, Maine

August 19-21, 2011

Photo couresy of Flickr/keithcarver,)


13th Annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival

Albany, Ohio

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


The 19th Annual International Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

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. 



Georgia Peach Festival

Peach County, Ga.

June 4-11, 2011

There is no state better qualified to host a celebration of the blushing peach than Georgia. Started in 1986, this festival hosts concerts, a parade, peach-focused arts and crafts, a Miss Georgia Peach contest (naturally), and it is most notably home to the world's largest peach cobbler, which uses 75 pounds of fresh Georgia peaches. Live music, likely singing the humble peach's praises, and a fireworks display help tie the whole festival together, which has a great flea-market feel with peach-loving vendors lining the streets.  


35th Annual Hope Watermelon Festival

Hope, Ark.

August 11-13, 2011

Watermelons are more than just fruit to the people of Arkansas. This year's 35th Annual Hope Watermelon Festival is expected to draw a crowd of over 50,000 watermelon-aficionados. The main attraction is the Watermelon Olympics, in which local teams participate in the watermelon-eating contest, watermelon tossing contest, and a seed spitting competition. Visitors will also be able to check out the biggest watermelons of the year that have weighed up to 200 pounds at festivals past, as well as the Watermelon Festival Car Show. 


Warrens Cranberry Festival

Warrens, Wis.

September 23-24-25, 2011

Warrens, Wisconsin has played host every year since 1973, come rain or shine, to the world's largest cranberry festival. Originally started as a way to raise funds for the town of Warrens, the festival has become an award winning and much lauded destination, with even Oprah giving the festival a mention in a 2009 issue of Oprah Magazine. The parade, shopping, arts and crafts, and various food options (like the Pancakes and Cranberry Soup or the Cranberry Cream Puffs) are second only to the Cranberry Marsh Tours and the Warrens Cranberry Festival Royalty. The Marsh Tours allow visitors to see an active cranberry marsh ready for harvesting, while Royalty are chosen prior to each year's festival from local ladies who fit requirements including charm, poise, and grooming.   


California Strawberry Festival

Oxnard, Calif.

Saturday and Sunday, May 21st & 22nd, 2011

Strawberries, whether eaten on their own, dipped in chocolate, or dunked in champagne, are often named among many people's favorite fruits. Hosted annually in Oxnard, Calif., this festival celebrates that sweet, seeded berry in many ways from live music on two stages to a Berry Blast Off Recipe Contest. There is a Celebrity Chef Cooking Demonstration, a workshop on how to grow your own strawberries, interactive exhibits, and Strawberryland for Kids. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/OtterFreak)