Rhythm & Ribs BBQ Festival in Tifton

Rhythm & Ribs BBQ Festival in Tifton

Fairs with All the Fixins: Georgia's Tastiest Food Festivals

Eat, drink and be merry at these celebrations of Georgia foods.

If there is one universal truth about the South, it’s that we love food — really, really love food. You would be hard-pressed to find any time of year without a flavor-focused festival. Here are just a few festivals that showcase Georgia's local specialties. If you leave hungry, you have only yourself to blame.

Brunswick stew

Brunswick Rockin’ Stewbilee (Brunswick, January)

Take in the seaport town of Brunswick and its charming waterfront park as it hosts a music-infused jubilee and cook-off honoring the classic stew that shares its name. At the Brunswick Rockin' Stewbilee, sample renditions of the Southern staple known for its tomato base and hearty mix of beans, corn, okra, and meats.

Athens Wine Weekend

Athens Wine Weekend (Athens, February)

Whether you’re a master quaffer or casual sipper, you’re invited to drink in three days of programming devoted to wines from around the world, including those from Georgia vines. During Athens Wine Weekend, toast your fellow imbibers over an amuse-bouche on opening night, then compare notes on sparkling wines at Sunday’s farewell brunch.

Georgia peanuts

Peanut Proud Festival (Blakely, March)

Party with peanut farmers and the South Georgia folks who support them at the Peanut Proud Festival in March. Come early for the parade, stay late for performances by country music headliners such as Tracy Lawrence. Besides jars of peanut butter, souvenir must-haves include a Peanut Proud T-shirt.

Southeaster Cowboy Festival

Southeastern Chuck Wagon Gathering (Cartersville, March)

As part of the Southeastern Cowboy Gathering at The Booth Museum, cooking teams prepare five dishes (meat, potatoes, beans, bread and dessert) just as they did on the cattle drives of the 1800s. Lunch is served at high noon, pardner.

Barbecue ribs

Rhythm & Ribs BBQ Festival (Tifton, March)

Live bands, ice-cold brews, chili cheese fries, and heaping rib plates. We call that fall-off-the-bone fun. Sanctioned by the Georgia Barbecue Association, Rhythm & Ribs BBQ Festival brings together festivalgoers and professional and backyard competitors for a smoky assembly of brotherly love in Fulwood Park.

Vidalia Onion Festival

Vidalia Onion Festival (Vidalia, April)

"Yumion," the festival mascot dressed in overalls, recently appeared on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." Granted, it was via the tweet hashtag #MyHometownIsWeird, but even the late-night host chimed in, "It’s a good onion." Celebrate it at the Vidalia Onion Festival by sampling onion recipes of all kinds.

strawberries

Georgia Strawberry Festival (Reynolds, April)

You’ll find a hull (wink, wink) lotta family fun and community spirit at the Georgia Strawberry Festival: 5K run, parades, gospel concert, and picnic-friendly fare, including barbecue chicken, burgers, and dogs. Strawberry shortcake, strawberry jam, and strawberry salsa are the stars of the show, but be sure to make time for the weenie dog race.

Evans Towne Center

Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Music Festival (Augusta, May)

No regular Joe, Joe Pond was a beloved, bigger-than-life character in the Augusta area, devoted to his family, community, barbecue and bluegrass. Now the community celebrates his legacy with Papa Joe's Banjo-B-Que Music Festival, a top-rate extravaganza over Memorial Day weekend. Wear your favorite Western button-down shirt in his honor. Camping is an option.

Habersham Vineyards & Winery

Winefest at Habersham Vineyards & Winery (Helen, May)

Wineries from around the state and nearby regions converge at Habersham Vineyards & Winery with their best offerings for an afternoon of entertainment, food, and plenty of tasting for oenophiles. Sip and swirl while listening to rock, folk, alternative, country and other musical genres. Tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door.

blueberries

Georgia Blueberry Festival (Alma, June)

Georgia leads the country in blueberry production, with Bacon County smack-dab in the center of the action. The patriotic-themed Georgia Blueberry Festival in Alma presents a blue streak of activities: parade, cooking contests, music, kiddie rides and games, plus vendors from near and far.

World's Largest Peach Cobbler

Georgia Peach Festival (Peach County, June)

The Georgia Peach Festival splits events between two weekends and two cities in Peach County: Byron and Fort Valley. Take a selfie with Miss Georgia Peach, and then take a colossal bite out of the World’s Largest Peach Cobbler.

Watermelon Days Festival

Watermelon Days Festival (Cordele, June)

Welcome to Cordele, the Watermelon Capital of the World! Are you ready for the watermelon horseshoe tournament? Seed-spitting competition? Watermelon-decorating contest? Any way you slice it, there is plenty of mouth-watering summer fun to go around.

Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival

Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival (Atlanta, July)

The Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival gets more popular every year, with a raucous bunch of foodies winding their way through the gourmet samplings in Westside Provisions District. Keep your companion and a cool drink close as you enjoy bands on stage and tasty bites and beverages from the city’s high-profile chefs and mixologists.

Brooklet Peanut Festival

Brooklet Peanut Festival (Brooklet, September)

Just east of Statesboro, the small town of Brooklet goes nutty every year honoring the area's powerhouse crop. Brooklet Peanut Festival activities start early with a peanut run and parade, then it's time for food booths, cook-offs, tractor races and live entertainment.

Downtown Plains

Plains Peanut Festival (Plains, September)

Plains is famously home to Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and humble peanut farmer. Visitors descend on the town annually to celebrate its high-profile crop and glimpse its most notable citizen.

Fried pies

Haralson County’s Fried Pie Festival (Buchanan, September)

Who can resist fried pies? No one filling this event, that's for sure. Crowds pack the Haralson County Fried Pie Festival cook-off site to sample sweet and savory pies like apple, chocolate cream, pecan and Cajun meat. There’s plenty to take home, too. And that buzzing you hear? That’s the call to go see the chainsaw carving demo.

Tennille BBQ Blast

Tennille BBQ Blast (Tennille, September)

Barbecue teams from around Georgia gather in this town about an hour east of Macon to compete for cash prizes at the Tennille BBQ Blast. Ease into the small-town vibe at the Friday night street dance. On Saturday, enjoy ’cue favorites (ribs, wings, sausage), music, merchants, and the sight of kiddie abandon on bouncy playthings.

Helen, Georgia

Oktoberfest (Helen, September & October)

Show off your mastery of the chicken dance then bite into a bratwurst and sip some beer at the annual Oktoberfest, an annual fall shindig in Alpine Helen. Lederhosen is optional.

Rock Shrimp Festival

Annual Rock Shrimp Festival (St. Marys, October)

The local specialty may be known for its hard shell, but festival mascot "Rocky" is a soft touch, greeting visitors who come to St. Marys for the Rock Shrimp Festival parade, artisan vendors, entertainment and sweet-tasting rock shrimp. Pre-purchase Rock Shrimp Dinner tickets at the welcome center.

Brooks County Skillet Festival

Brooks County Skillet Festival (Quitman, October)

The question isn't "Who wants to see how far they can toss a cast-iron skillet?" It's "Who doesn't?" Besides the skillet-throwing contest at the Brooks County Skillet Festival, there's a cast iron chef competition and loads of other heavy-bottomed amusements in Quitman.

Apples in Ellijay

Georgia Apple Festival (Ellijay, October)

Here in the Appalachian foothills, farmers swear the cool mountain nights make for the best-tasting, crispest apples. Fill your bags with Winesap and other beauties to take home. At the fairgrounds in Ellijay, fill up on apple treats, handmade crafts, cloggers and country music.

Peter Pan Peanut Butter at Georgia Peanut Festival

Georgia Peanut Festival (Sylvester, October)

Fact: Every jar of Peter Pan Peanut Butter is made in Sylvester, Georgia. Come revel with local farmers and savor their “peanuts worth digging.” Besides endless PB&Js and festival fare at the Georgia Peanut Festival, you'll find a winning brass band, arts and crafts, and a Kidz Korner.

brass band, arts and crafts, and a Kidz Korner.  Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival

Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival (Richmond Hill, October)

You thought Forrest Gump's friend Bubba could talk about ways to cook shrimp. The Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival serves up a variety of coastal seafood prepared in every conceivable way. Boy Scouts will get you fixed up, too, with kettle corn and peach cobbler. Another lure: big-name music headliners each year.

Flower Shop Honey

Hahira Honeybee Festival (Hahira, October)

The Georgia Department of Agriculture reports nearly one-third of our food is the direct result of pollination, so honeybees are vital to this region. At the Hahira Honeybee Festival, meet beekeepers, peek at hives, watch honey being spun, and get a taste of honey varietals like Cotton and Gallberry.

Ocilla

Sweet Potato Festival (Ocilla, October)

Since 1960, locals have promoted the region's sweet potato farmers with the Sweet Potato Festival, a daylong celebration in Ocilla. Pre-parade, march over to the sweet potato cooking contest. You’ll find entries for everything from pies and cakes to soufflés and ice cream.

Barbecue

The Real Squeal BBQ & Music Festival (Lyons, October)

Beer, barbecue, beauty queens, booming fireworks — that's what we like about the South. The two-day Real Squeal in Lyons features three barbecue contests (backyard, professional, and sauce), plus bands, a 5K and Hog Jog, classic cars and chainsaw carving. Local students even compete in the Pig Tales writing competition.

Kingsland Catfish Festival

Kingsland Catfish Festival (Kingsland, November)

Crispy Southern-fried catfish and all the fixings — grits, hush puppies, coleslaw, and plenty of sweet tea — that's reason enough to pack up and go to Kingsland for the annual Kingsland Catfish Festival. The parades, specialty crafts and musical performances? That’s just gravy.

Big Pig Jig

Big Pig Jig (Vienna, November)

Nope, it’s not a dance, but a chance to watch barbecue champions compete in Vienna. Share a funnel cake and bet who wins the trophy for most succulent pig. It's been recognized many times over as one of America’s best festivals.

Chicken Livers and Gizzards Festival

Chicken Livers and Gizzards Festival (Broxton, November)

This festival is "big doins" in Broxton, home to poultry farmers and seasoned country cooks in the Magnolia Midlands region. Which competitor will strut their poultry pride enough to win best chicken livers or gizzards recipe? Find out, and enjoy good eats, music, arts and crafts, and small-town Southern fun.

Chili

Peach State Chili Cookoff (Suwanee, November)

This is the place for chili fanatics to fill up on samples from more than 50 competitors. The kid-friendly Peach State Chili Cookoff, held in Suwanee Town Center Park, helps support The Gift of Adoption Fund and is the International Chili Society Georgia State Championship.

George L. Smith State Park

Sugar Cane Festival (Twin City, November)

With its beautiful cypress trees, George L. Smith State Park is a tranquil spot to learn about the area’s sugar cane history and syrup production. A hot biscuit drizzled with the stuff is pretty sweet, too. Artists, crafters, musicians, and food vendors are also on hand at the Sugar Cane Festival.

Published: December 2019