Food Festivals

The Flavors of the Midwest are on the Menu at These Famous Food Festivals

With so many classic foods, it’s little wonder that the Midwest has so many beloved food festivals. From local favorites to Midwest spins on classic dishes and everything in between, festivalgoers of any age can find something delicious to enjoy.

These festivals aren’t just annual celebrations, they’re part of the fabric of so many communities, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the fun as you enjoy incredible and tasty festival food.

Morton Pumpkin Festival-Illinois
Morton Pumpkin Festival | photo via ccgirl1970


Mitchell, South Dakota

Chicken wing enthusiasts will be in heaven at Wingapalooza as local businesses and individuals serve up delicious wings of every flavor and heat level. Hungry festivalgoers can be daring and eat with the hottest wings available or play it safe with milder flavors. Either way, you won’t leave hungry.

Iowa Eats

Waterloo, Iowa

Come hungry to this Eastern Iowa festival that features food and drink options made entirely in the Hawkeye State. Visitors can interact with artisans, chefs, authors, and shop for ag products as they taste the very best Iowa has to offer.

Morton Pumpkin Festival

Morton, Illinois

Celebrated in September, this festival is a pumpkin lover’s dream with pumpkin-flavored foods and fun family-friendly activities in the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.” Visitors can get a taste of pumpkin in just about everything from donuts to pancakes to grilled items to dessert items.

Taste of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

This epic festival has been a Windy City mainstay each September for over 40 years along the Lake Michigan waterfront. Festivalgoers and foodies alike can indulge in tasty offerings from some of ChiTown’s best food vendors, enjoy live music, neighborhood pop-up events, and more.

Sweet Corn Days

Elkander, Indiana

Every year on the last weekend of July, Sweet Corn Days presents visitors with a shuck’n good time. Since 1963, the festival has featured a slew of fun events, including festival royalty, live music, a parade, eating contests, food vendors, kids’ events, and plenty more family fun.

Sauerkraut Days

Henderson, Minnesota

This annual June festival oozes small-town charm and offers a huge celebration for sauerkraut — one that includes a kraut-eating contest, kraut royalty, a parade, wiener dog races, and more.

Kool-Aid Days

Hastings, Nebraska

Did you know Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska? Whether you did or not, you can hike it to Hastings each August for Kool-Aid Days. Each year the festival has a different theme and visitors can enjoy fun events like a 5K Fun Run, cardboard boat races, a parade, Kool-Aid drinking contests, and more.

All Pints North

Duluth, Minnesota

On the shores of Lake Superior, residents and visitors alike can enjoy views and brews as the Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild puts on one heckuva beer festival. With live music, food vendors, and plenty of Minnesota craft beer all packed into Bayfront Festival Park, it’s the perfect spot for a party. 

Johnsonville Brat Days

Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Sheboygan has a reputation as the Bratwurst Capital of the World and this annual August festival celebrates everything brat with live entertainment, brat eating contests, a Brat Trot, a carnival, a marketplace, and plenty of delicious, juicy brats.

Cleveland Garlic Festival

Cleveland, Ohio

Each August, Cleveland hosts one of Ohio’s smelliest (or most decadent depending on your preference) festivals. Garlic fans can indulge in garlic fries and other eats from Garlic Gourmet Alley paired with Ohio craft beers. Other activities include the crowing of Miss Garlic, live entertainment, and kids’ activities.

Taste of Chicago-Illinois
Taste of Chicago | photo via tricias_table

Beavercreek Popcorn Festival

Beavercreek, Ohio

The familiar “Pop, Pop, Pop” of popcorn fills the air each September as festivalgoers get their fill of popcorn, popcorn-inspired treats, and other tasty goodies. Visitors can also enjoy a classic car show, a 5K and fitness walk, and live entertainment.

National Cherry Festival

Traverse City, Michigan

One of Michigan’s biggest and best festivals is the annual National Cherry Festival each July. Upwards of half a million come to Northern Michigan for live music, parades, festival royalty, pit-spitting contests, cherry pie eating contests, and, of course, lots of cherry-infused foods.

RELATED: Check out more great Michigan fruit festivals.

Cheese Capital Festival

Plymouth, Wisconsin

America’s Dairyland celebrates all things cheese each June during a weekend of fun activities and cheesy delights. Festivalgoers can enjoy kids’ activities, live music, a foam cheese wedge race, cheese eating contests, and cheese-inspired foods from plenty of vendors.

Taste of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, Ohio

The Queen City’s annual Memorial Day weekend festival is a longstanding culinary tradition. Hungry festivalgoers can enjoy delights from dozens of restaurants, vendors, and food trucks — more than 300 items in all. Admission to the event is free and food options are reasonably priced, allowing visitors to get a true taste of the city.

Ice Cream Days

Le Mars, Iowa

Scream for ice cream as loud as you want at this June festival in the “Ice Cream Capital of the World.” It’s home to the Blue Bunny Dairy and the festival includes ice cream socials, car shows, giant games, scavenger hunts, live entertainment, and more.

Elkader Sweet Corn Days-Indiana
Elkader Sweet Corn Days | photo via sweetcorndays

Soulard Mardi Gras

St. Louis, Missouri

Mardi Gras is synonymous with New Orleans, but the second-biggest Mardi Gras celebration in the country is in St. Louis’ Soulard neighborhood. While the festivities include a 5K Run For Your Beads and a pet parade, foodies shouldn’t miss the Cajun Cook-Off for traditional Cajun delicacies. The Taste of Soulard entreats visitors to enjoy a self-guided pub crawl and tasting to savor even more Cajun flavors. 


Freeman, South Dakota

What began as a Mennonite celebration in 1959 has grown into Schmeckfest — a two-weekend summer celebration where traditional Mennonite foods are served “family style” to scores of visitors, including noodle soup, stewed beef, bratwurst, and more.

Pasty Festival

Calumet, Michigan

The pasty — with its flaky crust and beef, rutabaga, and potato filling — is a staple of the U.P. diet and Pasty Fest celebrates the best of pasties with the Pasty Olympics, pasty art, a pasty eating competition, and more.

Pancake Days

Butte, Nebraska

Pancake Days promises fun for the whole family with a lineup of events everyone can enjoy. Food-related fun includes a pancake and sausage feed, a pancake eating contest, and a beer garden. Elsewhere, attendees can enjoy tractor pulls, tomahawk throwing, cornhole tournaments, a parade, and more.

Norsk Hotfest

Minot, North Dakota

This four-day fall celebration of Scandinavian culture features the best in Scandinavian cuisine, unique keepsakes, live entertainment, and more. Hungry attendees can sample delicacies like lefse, lutefisk, and Swedish meatballs while enjoying a fun-filled atmosphere.

Cheeseburger in Caseville-Michigan
Cheeseburger in Caseville | photo via discovertheblue.mi.thumbcoast

Cheeseburger in Caseville

Caseville, Michigan

A festival inspired by Jimmy Buffett’s hit “Cheeseburger in Paradise” is the ultimate Michigan beach party. While festival attendees can find live entertainment, car shows, kids activities, and much more, cheeseburgers are at the heart of the festival. Hungry attendees can try different burger offerings from local eateries or participate in a Cheeseburger Eating Contest.

South Dakota Chislic Festival

Freeman, South Dakota

Chislic, delectable bite-sized chunks of beef or mutton are celebrated constantly in South Dakota and each July Freeman’s population swells by the thousands to celebrate the many varieties of this hearty dish. Other festival activities include bean bag tournaments and a frisbee golf tournament.

Apple’n Pork Festival

Clinton, Illinois

Held the last full weekend of September, this Central Illinois festival offers visitors a tasty variety of old-fashioned apple and pork dishes, along with dozens of craft vendors, live entertainment, and living history interpreters, including Abraham Lincoln.

BBQ Fest

Kansas City, Missouri

Bring your appetite for this annual celebration that includes more than 30,000 pounds of succulent smoked meat. The very best in ‘que is served up by award-winning pitmasters — paired with ice-cold beer it’s a hard combination to beat. Other events include BBQ demos and a rib rumble eating contest.

Warrens Cranberry Festival

Warrens, Wisconsin

The world’s largest cranberry festival celebrates Wisconsin’s cranberry harvest — more than 60% of the nation’s crop — each September. It features cranberry marsh tours, cranberry coffee, cranberry cream puffs, pancakes with cranberry syrup, and plenty of other fruity delicacies.

Sauerkraut Days-Minnesota
Sauerkraut Days | photo via krautdays

Iowa State Fair


Every state in the Midwest knows how to put on a spectacular state fair, but Iowa’s goes a step above as one of the state’s biggest events and largest agricultural exhibitions. That’s to say nothing of the food, which includes 200 food stands and dozens of snackables available on a stick.

Best of the West Ribfest

Watford City, North Dakota

 This annual North Dakota summer celebration combines all the things festivalgoers love about festivals: Great food (in this case, mouth-watering ‘que), live music, and plenty of opportunities to shop.

Maple Syrup Festival

Vermontville, Michigan

This springtime extravaganza is one of many great Michigan maple syrup events, but this one claims to be the Great Lakes State’s original maple syrup festival. Attendees can find goodies like candy, syrup cotton candy, maple cream, and pancakes (of course) amongst a slew of fun events, including a pancake derby and a petting zoo.

Minnesota State Fair

Falcon Heights, Minnesota

The “Great Minnesota Get-Together” is a 12-day end-of-summer tradition with so many classic foods to sample. Classic treats like Sweet Martha’s Cookies, Speedy’s About a Foot Long Hot Dog, cheese curds, and many more are hard to pass up and every visitor can find their favorite fair food to nosh on.

Taste of Omaha

Omaha, Nebraska

Each spring, Nebraskans and out-of-town visitors gather for this one-of-a-kind showcase that features the best foods Omaha eateries can offer. Visitors of all ages can sample a variety of delights including Polish, Mediterranean, Italian, and other cultural foods, mouthwatering desserts, and local favorites.

Kool-Aid Days-Nebraska
Kool-Aid Days | photo via akroush8

Make Plans to Attend a Midwest Food Festival

Whether state fairs and “Taste of” events are part of your annual event calendar or you’re a first-time attendee, Midwest food festivals present enjoyment for everyone. Foodies, festival-goers, and curious travelers alike can dig in to some of the best eats the Midwest can offer, soak up the festival atmosphere, and ultimately have an unforgettable time.