How to Conquer Festival Season like a Virginia Foodie

Image: Sweetlife, Sam Dietch

Image: Sweetlife, Sam Dietch

Virginia Foodie festival-goer, throw on your stretchiest jorts and flower crowns and hit the road for food festivals a-plenty. If you're hungry - especially in the upcoming summer months - all you'll need to do is find the nearest event to get your eat on. No matter which type of cuisine you find appealing, there's a street fair or festival waiting to satisfy, so learn how to Conquer them like a pro. 

Come Hungry - It may seem obvious, but you'll need lots of room to get the most out of a food festival - so no snacking beforehand! Sampling several different vendors will allow you to find a favorite, and if you fill up before you head to the event you'll be ready to call it quits after a single plate. Nobody likes a quitter.

Commit to Trying Something New - Sure, you could stay in your comfort zone and just eat corndogs, but where's the fun in that? Head to festivals like SWEETLIFE, a late spring festival in Columbia, MD. Make a point to hit up their food trucks and tents, featuring some of the finest farm to table eats a festival has ever seen. The diverse group of vendors they invite contains offerings like lobster rolls and handmade cakepops. 

Image: VAfoodie - Sweetlife, Carl Timpone - VAfoodie

Image: VAfoodie - Sweetlife, Carl Timpone - VAfoodie

Bring a Buddy - Summertime events are more fun with your BFFs, but bringing company to a food festival also doubles your tasting possibilities - provided your pal is okay with swapping. Additionally, a more dedicated friend may also be able to get you safely home after happenings like the Vintage Virginia Wine & Food Festival, distinctive for it's "all you can drink" VIP option. Held on June 4th and 5th in Centreville, this vino-lover's dream features a whopping 30 wineries showcasing their products.

Make it a Habit - While some annual food festivals in Virginia and its surrounding areas are can't-miss, others are smaller yet no less compelling. Take the Thursday Jams at Abingdon Market Pavilion - a fun weekly opportunity for locals and visitors alike to relax, unwind and enjoy music on Thursday nights. What it lacks in the frantic everywhere-at-once feeling found in unique annual festivals, it more than makes up for it with features like a well-designed beer garden. Stop by May 29th through August 28th, but note that there are no shows on July 3rd or August 7th.

Try a Few Veggies  - Selective dabbling in vegetarian menus is the new black in food festival-dom, so why not try some leafy greens instead of red meat? Bashes like the LAVA Music Festival – held in Suffolk on May 27-28, is gaining fame for their diverse and tasty vegetarian options for concert-goers. Local favorites The Flying Pig, The Thirsty Frog and Bro’s Fish Tacos serve up delicious goodies alongside great tunes for the omnivores attending. 

Got a Case of the Funds-R-Low - Food festivals aren't necessarily expensive, and they can certainly be enjoyed for less than the cost of a dinner out. Broad Appetit - held in Richmond on June 5th, lets thrifty food-lovers have the time of their lives for only $3 a plate. This local-food-driven celebration of taste is designed to give everyone an affordable chance to experience the local gourmet culture and fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

Still hankering for food and filled with wanderlust? Check these festivals out!

Northern Virginia

Mount Vernon Farm to Table Dinner – June 3, Mount Vernon

Vintage Virginia Wine & Food Festival – June 4 & 5, Centreville

19th Annual Cajun Festival & Crawfish Boil – June 11, Purcellville

NOVA Summer Brewfest – June 18 & 19, Centreville, VA

Innsbrook Taste of Virginia – July 2nd, Glen Allen

Great Grapes Wine & Food Festival – Aug 13, Leesburg

40th Virginia Wine Festival – September 17 & 18, Fairfax

Blue Ridge Highlands

The Howling Craft Beer & Music Festival – May 27-28, Abingdon

Mountain Adventure Weekend – June 4, Floyd

Stuart Beach Music Festival – June 9-11, Stuart

Virginia Cheese Festival – June 11, Blacksburg

Hops & Howlers Craft Brew Fest – June 18, Abingdon

The Black Dog Jazz Festival – July 9, Floyd

Tidewater

Strawberry Festival – May 28, Heathsville

Pungo Strawberry Festival – May 28 & 29, Virginia Beach

Rhythm, Brews, & BBQ – June 25, Kilmarnock

The Bayou Boogaloo Music & Cajun Food Festival – June 24-26, Norfolk

Pork, Peanut, & Pine Festival – July 16 & 17, Surry

6th Annual Summer Brewfest – July 8, Norfolk

Central VA

Trashy Ribs & Brews Festival – June 18, Orange

Afton After Hours – June 25, Afton

Watermelon Wine Festival – July 2, Concord

Hanover Tomato Festival – July 9, Mechanicsville

LOCKN' Festival - Aug 25-28, Arrington

Shrimp & Wine Festival – Sep 10, Brookneal

Poetry Night @ Café Zata – Every 4th Friday of the month, Richmond

Saturday Soul Social – Every 1st Sunday, The Hippodrome, Richmond

Shenandoah Valley

Virginia Herb Festival – June 11 & 12, Middletown

Rock n’ Ridgeview at Ridgeview Park – Select Thursdays in Summer, Waynesboro

Vintage Woodstock Festival – June 24, Woodstock

Covington Cork & Pork Festival – June 24 & 25, Covington

Winchester Greek Festival – Aug 20 & 21, Winchester

17th Annual Apple Butter Celebration – September 17, Skyland

Shenandoah Valley Apple Harvest Festival – Sep 17 & 18, Winchester

Rocktown Bites - Saturdays & Selective Thursdays, Harrisonburg

Southern VA

43rd Annual Virginia Pork Festival - June 8, Emporia

LakeFest - July 16, Clarksville

Virginia Cantaloupe Festival - July 22, South Boston

Shine & Wine Festival - Sep 24, Chase City

DC

French Summer Wine Tasting – June 3, Washington DC

Dine-N-Dash – June 15, Washington DC

Around the World Cultural Food Festival – June 18, Washington DC

Atlas Brew Works Bluegrass Jam Session – 3rd Sunday of every month, Washington DC

Live Music w/ Brent Peterson at Clyde’s of Georgetown – Every Wednesday in summer, Washington DC

Karaoke @ Sticky Rice DC – 10:30 pm on Thursdays, Washington DC