The Best Fall Festival in Every State
You may be sad to see summer go, but the crisp, cool fall air brings with it lots of fun. There are hayrides, apple picking, the wine harvest ...
There is so much about the season to fall for it's hard to imagine there's anyone who can't find something to enjoy.
So celebrate the changing of the seasons the best way: with a fall festival. Here are some of the festivals that put the changing seasons center stage in every state.
Alabama hosts a variety of fun fall activities from Mobile to Birmingham. For five days worth of festivities, check out the Cullman Oktoberfest, an annual event in the city since 1982. The Oktoberfest festival will have German style craft beers made by Alabama brewers such as Straight to Ale Brewing and Blue Pants Brewery, a car show and will even crown Miss Oktoberfest! Top it all off with wiener dog races, a bratwurst eating contest and even a Burgermeister Ball.
Sitka, Alaska, celebrates fall with the Alaska Day Festival. The festival commemorates the Transfer of Russian claim of Alaska to the United States of America at Sitka. The event includes historic sites and buildings tours, pipe band appearances, Alaska Native dancing, road races, kayak races, croquet games, and more.
Arizona has numerous Oktoberfest-themed and art-centric fall festivals, but a highlight in this state is the Taco Festival. More than 100,000 tacos will be served during this two-day event. And, more than 90 percent of the vendors are locally owned and operated. The festival will also have live music, lucha libre wrestling, hot chili pepper eating contests and a Chihuahua beauty pageant.
Timberfest has been held for more than 30 years in Sheridan, Arkansas. Get ready for lumberjack competitions, games and fun for children of all ages, arts and crafts, 5K run, a parade and much more.
California pays homage to its past with several interesting fall festivals, including the Paul Bunyan Days in Fort Bragg, California. The celebration of the bigger than life logger and his giant blue ox, Babe, includes parades, a craft fair, logging show and a barbecue.
Honorable mention, though, goes to Sacramento Gold Rush Days, which features a beer crawl, train ride, river cruise, wagon and stagecoach rides.
Fort Collins is home to the FORToberfest, a celebration of Fort Collins with live music, seasonal beer from Fort Collins breweries and bicycle booths. While the music lineup ranges from funk to bluegrass to rock and indie, costumes are encouraged. This event draws in thousands of people every year.
If you love garlic, the Olde Mistick Village garlic festival should be on your festival bucket list. Peppered with live music and activities for kids, the real highlight is the local produce, preserves, baked goods, prepared food, crafts and concoctions all made with garlic. Additionally, Olde Mistick Village restaurants will feature special garlic related foods.
Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch Festival is sure to get Florida residents and visitors in the fall spirit. The fall fun includes a pumpkin patch, carnival for all ages, corn and hay bale maze, pumpkin food court, and beer bars.
More than 100 scarecrows will line the streets of Alpharetta, Georgia, for its annual Scarecrow Festival. Play a little cornhole, take a hayride and dance through the streets while listening to country music.
Now in its 71st year, the Floral Parade in Honolulu includes a colorful procession of female and male pau horseback riders, floats covered with Hawaiian flowers and Hawaiian music.
The Eagle Wine and Food Festival, located in Eagle, Idaho, celebrates the culinary and viticulture delights by select Idaho wineries and pairing them with premier local chefs. A portion of the proceeds from this festival, which also includes live music, is donated to local charities.
The oldest and largest fall festival in southern Illinois, the Murphysboro Apple Festival contains a car show, parade, activities for kids, a golf classic, carnival and more. It boasts more than 45,000 attendees each year as well. There is a caveat for those looking to imbibe: The festival is alcohol free.
If Indiana’s Festival of Turning Leaves doesn’t say fall, what does? The annual event includes a plethora of activities and events, including a corn hole tournament and a classic car show.
For more than 100 years, Beaverdale has been putting on its fall festival. A float contest joins the likes of a dog parade and on-site games.
Celebrate in Lexena, Kansas, also known as the Spinach Capital of the World (declared in the 1930s), with thousands of others. The world’s largest spinach salad, spinach recipe contest, cooking demonstrations, and kids’ activities.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Laurel County, home of the original KFC restaurant, celebrates the life of Colonel Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Located in London, Kentucky, the world’s largest stainless steel skillet will also be on hand for the occasion.
Louisiana’s oldest agricultural festival is the International Rice Festival, located in Crowley, Louisiana. This event includes a pageant, poker rice run, classic car show, parades, rice creole and cookery contest, rice eating contest, live music and carnival.
Damariscotta celebrates fall with the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta. Pumpkin boats are paddled or motor powered in this famous regatta on the Damariscotta River. This festival also includes giant pumpkin weigh-off, parade, pumpkin drop, and pumpkin pancake breakfast.
Ocean City hosts a two-weekend celebration, dubbed O.C.-toberfest, with a beach maze, pet parade, great pumpkin race and a Halloween costume party for kids.
The Big E, located in West Springfield, is the biggest fair in the Northeast, with nearly 1.5 million people attending in 2014. It features a circus, mardi gras parade, agricultural competitions, arts and crafts, food contests and live music, just to name a few events.
The Color Cruise & Island Festival, located in Grand Ledge, Michigan, is a three-day festival that was developed for attendees to appreciate the colors of the season by riverboat, canoe, horse and wagon, bicycle or air. There is also cider pressing, pumpkin painting and a car show.
Said to be one of the top events in Minnesota, the annual Minnesota Oktoberfest will take place at four locations in New Ulm on the first two weekends in October. The four locations are the Best Western Plus, Downtown New Ulm, Morgan Creek Vineyards and Schell’s Brewery.
More than 15,000 gathers for the Cleveland Octoberfest in Cleveland, Mississippi, every year for the event that has been called one of the best outdoor festivals in the Delta. Bring your appetite: It's a Memphis Barbecue Network sanctioned event.
The National Harvest Festival in Branson features more than 125 visiting craftsmen, a barn dance, Buck Taylor’s Cowboy Emporium and a Wild West Show inspired by Buffalo Bill.
Held in the Chokecherry Capitol of Montana, Lewiston, and attended by more than 4,000 people each year, the Chokecherry Festival pays homage to the small fruit that grows wild in Montana.
The Nebraska City-based Apple Jack Festival is said to attract more than 70,000 people for all things made of apples, including apple pie, cider, caramel apples, apple fritters and more. There’s also a parade, classic car show, live music and three-day carnival.
The RiSE Lantern Festival, which takes place in the Mojave Desert, is designed to elevate hope, ignite dreams and create memories as we move into the holiday gathering season with the release of thousands of lanterns.
The New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival is not for the faint of heart. Located in Laconia, New Hampshire, the annual fall celebration includes more than 20,000 pumpkins, as well as rides, games, live music, food and beverages, haunted attractions and more.
Join 30,000 visitors to downtown Jersey City for the All About Downtown day street fair featuring food trucks, art work, jewelry, crafts, and hundreds of vendors.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a must-see fall event. With hot air balloon launches, live music, flying competition and car show, the simplicity and beauty of hot air balloons lit up as night falls is not to be overlooked.
Macedon Center Lumberjack Festival in Macedon boasts an amateur lumberjack competition that includes log rolling, two-man cross cut, buck saw, chain saw, log chop and fire starting. Sunday is the pro competition with ax throwing, hot saw, two man crosscut and spring board. There is also a petting zoo with pony rides, craft and collectibles sale.
In the fall, Raleigh hosts the North Carolina Gourd Festival, held at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. There are more than 70 categories of competition for gourd growers and crafters. The 2017 theme is “Under The Sea.”
The Potato Bowl in Grand Forks features a parade, golf tournament, “Where’s Potato Bowl Pete” contest, fireworks, french fry eating contest, sack races and more.
Mansfield will light up the night sky with more than 1,000 glowing pumpkins this fall. Great Pumpkin Glow will also feature gourds, mums, hay bales, corn stalks, holiday lights and other glowing decorations. Food, face painting and scarecrow displays up the ante on the event.
The Tulsa Oktoberfest has been running for more than 30 years and has been ranked as one of the top Oktoberfest celebrations by several media outlets. Events at this fall fest include the Dachshund Dash, bier barrel races, a 5K and stein carrying and holding contests.
The Cranberry Festival, held in Bandon, Oregon, will mark its 71st year this year. At the annual fall extravaganza, cranberry cooks compete for a culinary crown in the Queen of the Kitchen food fair, while hungry festival goers dive into the cranberry eating contest to win prizes. There is also a parade, sporting events and more.
Canonsburg is expecting more than 60,000 people to make the trek to it’s annual Oktoberfest celebration. Amusement rides and games settle alongside traditional German food vendors and beer distributors.
Head to the Ocean State Oyster Fest in Providence for a last taste of summer while transitioning into the cooler months. Celebrating fine Rhode Island oysters, music, and craft-beer, an Oyster Fan ticket gets you a half-dozen locally sourced oysters from an array of RI-based growers; a local micro-brewed beer, glass of wine, or spiked ginger beer. There is also live music.
Held in November, South Carolina’s Pecan Festival anticipates that more than 20,000 visitors will attend for the live entertainment, food and craft vendors, rides, antique tractor show, car show, competitions, cook-off competition, 5K/10K/half marathon runs and half metric century bike ride.
Celebrate Oktoberfest on a train with Hill City-based 1880 Train Oktoberfest. This year’s Oktoberfest Express will have live music by Easy Sounds of Rapid City prior to departure. On board, there’s seasonal beer, traditional German foods, and costume contest.
The Unicoi County Apple Festival in Erwin, Tennessee, has been the a three-year winner of the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association’s Pinnacle Award. More than 100,000 attend annually, according to the festival organizers, and boasts three food courts, a corn hole tournament, apple dumpling contest and two entertainment stages featuring live music.
The Grapevine Wine Festival in Grapevine, Texas, includes a People’s Choice wine tasting classic with 100+ wine samples from 40+ Texas wineries. The four-day festival also includes a GrapeStomp competition, food pairings and a golf classic.
Ogden's Harvest Moon Celebration bids farewell to summer and welcomes autumn. Attendees can sip on seasonal brews, listen to local musicians, and let the kids get face painted.
The Mount Snow’s 20th annual Oktoberfest promises plenty of beer, schnitzel and Oom-pah music as well as kids games, pumpkin painting, an apple slingshot and the famous schnitzel toss.
The Graves Mountain Resort Apple Harvest Festival in Syria, Virginia, features Bluegrass music, arts and craft vendors, food, hayrides, apples and apple butter making. Patrons can also pick their own apples from the orchard.
Leavenworth, Washington, hosts the Autumn Leaf Festival. A grande parade, kiddie parade, car show and concerts help fill this fall festival to the brim.
The Snallygaster D.C. beer festival will feature more than 300 different ales and lagers, food vendors, live music, DJ’s, and recreational and family-friendly activities.
The West Virginia Pumpkin Festival in Milton includes concerts, entertainment, several pageants, a parade, 5K run, and more.
Bayfield’s Bayfield Apple Festival is a celebration of the autumn harvest and Bayfield’s agricultural heritage. A grand parade, apple pie tasting contest and booths of fresh apple pies, tarts, caramel apples, ciders, and other fall treats make this a must-visit festival for fall lovers.
The Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival draws thousands of art lovers attend this 30-year-old event considered one of the Rocky Mountain West’s premier cultural festivals.