Each year, cities and towns across Alabama host a slew of festivals and events that celebrate the state’s local harvests and get your taste buds tingling. If you’re building your food-focused calendar for the year, check out this list of 25 fun fruit fests, seafood shindigs and competitive cook-offs Alabama has to offer. From wine tastings and cooking demonstrations to pie-eating contests and barbecue showdowns, these events serve up a little something for everyone.
Hungry for more? Explore a comprehensive list of upcoming food events.
Orange Beach Seafood Festival, Orange Beach (Feb. 25)
In addition to some of the freshest seafood around, this festival features more than 40 arts and crafts vendors and a classic car show. The Orange Beach Seafood Festival benefits the Orange Beach Sports Association and its efforts to support youth sports events in the community.
Chicken & Egg Festival, Moulton (April 13 — 15)
The Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival is a weekend-long event filled with food vendors, live entertainment, educational exhibits, arts and crafts, and the festival’s famous fried chicken. For the full experience, tie on a bib and test your mettle in the chicken-wing and hard-boiled-egg eating contests.
Pepper Place Saturday Market, Birmingham (April 14 — Dec. 15)
Shoppers flock to Pepper Place Saturday Market for fresh flowers, vegetables, baked goods, honey and a slew of other products from Alabama farmers and artisans. The variety of goods paired with delicious food, live music and cooking demonstrations by local chefs have turned this event into a must-do for residents and visitors alike.
On the Tracks Food & Wine Festival, Auburn/Opelika (April 20)
Food vendors line the streets of downtown Opelika for this food and wine festival. Other highlights include a wine-tasting trail, live music and art gallery events.
Red Diamond Restaurant Tour, Anniston (April 21)
The Red Diamond Restaurant Tour, part of the Noble Street Festival in downtown Anniston, features special menus from a dozen of the area’s favorite restaurants, which set up shop in tents along Noble Street for one day only. While dining, festival-goers can take in bike races, live music, kids’ activities and works by local and regional artists. The festival benefits the Calhoun County Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.
Schaeffer Eye Center Crawfish Boil, Birmingham (May 4 and 5)
Twenty years ago, Aaron and Phyllis Beam couldn’t have imagined that a regular gathering at their home, which involved a bunch of friends and 50 pounds of crawfish, would one day turn into one of Birmingham’s most popular events. Now with corporate sponsors and headlining musical acts, the Schaeffer Eye Center Crawfish Boil consistently draws record-breaking crowds and has turned into one of the biggest food and music events in the Birmingham area.
Grits Festival, Childersburg (May 5)
This festival not only features delicious grits, but also pinto beans and cornbread, boiled peanuts and many other Southern food staples. Kids can enter the catfish rodeo while adults enjoy the arts and crafts area.
Hampstead Institute Alabama All-Star Food Festival, Montgomery (May 12)
The first annual Alabama All-Star Food Festival will feature dishes from some of the best chefs around, plus plenty of activities for foodies and their families. Proceeds benefit the Montgomery Area Food Bank, the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network and the Hampstead Institute, a nonprofit organization in Montgomery, is focused on creating a healthy and sustainable community that promotes local agriculture.
Slocomb Tomato Festival, Slocomb (June 16)
Have your picture taken with the winner of the Ms. Tomato Pageant or bring out your best tomato recipes to win a culinary crown at the Slocomb Tomato Festival. In addition to friendly competitions, the festival boasts family-friendly activities, live music and a parade.
Chilton County Peach Festival, Clanton (June 26 — 30)
Since its beginning in 1947, the Chilton County Peach Festival has continued to grow bigger and better each year. In addition to all the fresh peaches, peach pie and peach ice cream you can eat, the festival includes the Peach Queen Pageant and the Peach Parade.
State Farmers Market Day, Montgomery (July 14)
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries invite everyone to celebrate Alabama farmers during State Farmers Market Day in Montgomery. Shoppers will find produce and other products available from local farmers and vendors, as well as live music and activities for kids.
Alabama Restaurant Week, Statewide (Aug. 17 — 26)
Enjoy the cuisine of your favorite Alabama restaurants during Alabama Restaurant Week. Various eateries around the state — including some of those featured in the “100 Dishes To Eat in Alabama Before You Die” brochure — offer special prices and menus throughout the week for diners who want to experience the tastes of Alabama.
Stokin’ the Fire Barbecue Festival, Birmingham (Aug. 18)
At the heart of Stokin’ the Fire is a world-class barbecue competition benefiting Sloss Furnaces Landmark and Museum. In addition to the cooking battle, which features competitions for chicken, pork ribs and pork butt, the festival includes performances by popular musicians, Cajun dancing demonstrations, barbecue sampling and a kid-friendly zone.
Okra Festival, Burkville (Aug. 25)
You could say Burkville’s Okra Festival is known far and wide — international poster artist Amos Paul Kennedy has commemorated the event in several of his works, which are featured in the Smithsonian and throughout Europe. The Okra Festival started as a small community event celebrating the only crop that survived an unusually hot summer in 2000. More than a decade later, it is one of the highlights of the summer season, featuring local food, music and cultural arts.
Black Belt Folk Roots Festival, Eutaw (Aug. 25)
Held in the historic Greene County Courthouse Square, this festival is organized by The Society of Folk Arts & Culture. The event celebrates age-old traditions of West Alabama through music, dance, storytelling and food.
Alabama Butterbean Festival, Pinson (Aug. 31 and Sept. 1)
You don’t have to be a butterbean fan to enjoy this festival, but it certainly doesn’t hurt! The Alabama Butterbean Festival hosts more than 150 food vendors, in addition to gospel and contemporary musicians and plenty of other family-friendly activities.
Riverfest Barbecue Cook-Off, Decatur (Sept. 14 and 15)
Decatur’s Riverfest Barbecue Cook-off is open to both professional and amateur teams. Folks come for the barbecue and stay for the live music and children’s activities.
Taste of the Bayou, Bayou La Batre (Sept. 29)
Support local fishermen at this event held in one of Alabama’s most laid back fishing communities. Guests can sample fabulous fare prepared by amateur and professional chefs using fresh seafood from the waters near Bayou La Batre.
Whistle Stop Festival, Irondale (Sept. 29)
The Whistle Stop Festival is acclaimed for its mix of food, live music and arts and crafts. The event concludes with a beautiful fireworks display illuminating the city’s historic downtown, home to Irondale Cafe and its famous fried green tomatoes.
Cullman Oktoberfest, Cullman (Oct. 6 — 11)
Cullman’s Oktoberfest promises days of food, fun and dancing. Highlights include a car show, bratwurst tasting and the Miss Oktoberfest pageant.
National Shrimp Festival, Gulf Shores (Oct. 11 — 14)
This festival celebrates a seafood staple — shrimp. Drawing more than 300,000 people over four days, it’s one of the largest outdoor festivals in the state. Adults can enjoy a variety of food, art and musical acts while the kids play in the Children’s Activity Village.
Break ‘n Bread, Birmingham (Oct. 14)
Presented by Birmingham Originals, a group of independently owned and operated restaurants, this event showcases local signature dishes, in addition to wine and beer tastings. Over the years, Break ‘N Bread has emerged as one of the premier food and wine events in the state and benefits the Children’s Hospital of Alabama.
Alabama Pecan Festival, Mobile (Nov. 2 — 4)
Alabama’s pecan industry dates back to the early 1900s. The Alabama Pecan Growers Association celebrates this rich history each year with a weekend full of music, carnival rides, crafts and, of course, plenty of pecans! The Pecan Festival also hosts two musical contests: the Hank and Jett Williams Songwriters Contest and the Gospel Songwriter and Talent Contest.
National Peanut Festival, Dothan (Nov. 2 — 11)
Celebrate the harvest season at the National Peanut Festival. Held each fall to honor local peanut growers, the event features carnival rides, live music, agricultural displays, and all the peanuts and peanut products you can eat.
Christmas on the River Barbecue Cook-Off, Demopolis (Nov. 29 — Dec. 2)
The Christmas on the River Barbecue Cook-Off is the official Alabama State Barbecue Championship. Part of a four-day event packed with food, kid-friendly activities, arts and crafts, the event ends with a dazzling nautical float parade on the Tombigbee River.
For more, don’t forget to check out Alabama.Travel’s comprehensive list of upcoming food events.
Photograph by Liesa Cole of Omni Studio.
The views expressed here are those of the author.