We love our food festivals, and this time of year, there are some fantastic ones to attend all over the country. Tastemakers Eric Ripert, José Andrés and Anthony Bourdain will host the Cayman Cookout at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman this weekend; January 27 marks Charleston’s 30th annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival; and Top Chef’s Gail Simmons is one of the big names at Beaver Creek Food & Wine Weekend January 24 to 27. But we wanted to highlight some of the, well, more unusual food festivals, too — the ones without the celebrity chefs and bigwigs. And we’ve found three that we’re sure are just as entertaining as any star-studded culinary event.
Dade City’s Annual Kumquat Festival
Dade City, Fla.
Kumquats are a big deal near Dade City, Florida — the neighboring town of St. Joseph is called the Kumquat capital of the world. So it makes sense (sort of) that nearly 40,000 people come out to honor the citrus fruit by eating everything kumquat, including pies, cookies, ice cream, marmalade and salsa (and of course, by crowning Miss Kumquat in the annual pageant). Jan. 26
St. George, S.C.
If you’re not from the Southeast, you might not understand the importance of grits in Southern cuisine. But just head to the World Grits Festival and that will change —fast. It’s held in St. George, South Carolina, where at one time, the residents ate more grits per capita than in any other place in the world. The event includes a carnival, food vendors and a grits-eating competition, but the real show is the Rolling in the Grits contest where adults and kids roll in a pool of cooked grits to see who can get the most hulled grains to cling to their bodies. April 12-14
They’re so crazy for Spam in Hawaii, they celebrate it every year at the Waikiki Spam Jam. And this is no small event. Last year, 20,000 people flocked to Kalakaua Avenue to sample the tasty (and no-so-tasty?) creations that Honolulu’s finest restaurants could conjure up with the infamous canned meat. April 27
Photos Courtesy of Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce and Waikiki Spam Jam