The Best Fall Festival in Every State

From Connecticut's garlic harvest to California's Avofest, here's where to experience the best of fall in the United States.

New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival
Photo: John Greim/Getty Images

Fall is a season of festivals: Harvest festivals, Oktoberfests, lumberjack festivals (and yes, there are a few of them), wine festivals, and more. Autumn brings the joy of cider drinking, apple pie eating, costume donning, and pumpkin decorating — all of which are welcome and encouraged at the many, many fall festivals occurring around the country.

No matter where you are in the U.S., you're bound to be near one of these celebrations. Plan out your season of fun with this list of the best fall festival in all 50 states (plus D.C.).

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Dachshund in a Halloween costume on a lawn
Courtesy of Cullman Oktoberfest

Alabama hosts a variety of fun fall activities from Mobile to Birmingham. For a week's worth of festivities, check out the Cullman Oktoberfest, an annual event in the city since 1982. The festival always has German-style craft beers made by Alabama brewers like Straight to Ale Brewing. You can also partake in German dinners, walking tours, and the crowning of Miss Oktoberfest. The festival is topped off with wiener dog races, a 5K, and a bratwurst eating contest.

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Group of people in military uniform at Alaska Day Festival
Mim McConnell

The charming city of Sitka celebrates fall with an Alaska Day Festival. The festival commemorates the transfer of Alaska from Russian claim to the United States of America. The event includes a parade, tea party, pipe band performances, Alaska Native dancing, an Alaska Day Ball, and more. The town where it's held was once the capital of Russian America.

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Two people eating messy tacos outside
Debby Wolvos/Courtesy of Arizona Taco Festival

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 they're best washed down with a margarita made with any of the 100 varieties of tequila available to sample. The festival will also have live music, lucha libre wrestling, hot chili pepper eating contests, and a Chihuahua beauty pageant.

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"Welcome lumberjacks" sign covered in American flags
Courtesy of Arkansas Tourism

Timberfest has been held since 1984 in Sheridan, Arkansas, a city encircled by forest. As its name suggests, the festival is a celebration of the woodland setting and all things tree-related, such as the Pinewood Derby and lumberjack competitions. There will be games and activities for children of all ages, arts and crafts, a 5K run, a parade, a cornhole competition, and more.

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Farmer driving crates of avocados through orchard

Ana Rocio Garcia Franco/Getty Images

Avocado lovers flock to California's Carpinteria Valley for Avofest not just to get a taste of the fleshy fruit but also to enjoy the state's largest free music festival. Between the juried competitions for the best guacamole and largest avocado, 75 musical acts keep the tunes flowing across four stages. More than 80,000 people attend the festival over its three days in October.

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While beer-centered Oktoberfests take over the rest of the U.S. (and world) during fall, Colorado celebrates a different kind of alcohol. The Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival, dubbed Still on the Hill, features a Grand Tasting where guests can try dozens of spirits (though they shouldn't if they want to avoid a hangover). Other events include a scavenger hunt, mixology workshop, haunted house and costume contest, bloody Mary brunch, and live music.

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Garlic hanging at an outdoor market

Salima Senyavskaya/Getty Images

Like garlic? You'd better, because (almost) everything at the Connecticut Garlic and Harvest Festival tastes like it. The town of Bethlehem likely exudes a pungent smell when this celebration takes over the fairgrounds each October. Eat as much garlic dip, cheese, pizza — even fried garlic and garlic-flavored ice cream — as you want while learning how to grow and cook with the herb.

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Giant witch balloon in a parade
National Geographic Creative/Alamy

If you thought sea witches existed only in movies, think again. Every October, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, hosts the Sea Witch Festival, a kind of coastal approach to your regular Halloween affair. Feel free to come dressed in costume yourself. The festival's main event is a witch-themed parade — giant balloons included — but there are also often lantern tours, museum exhibits, and trick-or-treating for the kids.

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Venice, Florida, is known for its annual Chalk Festival honoring the distinct street art subcategory. Chalk artists come from all over to turn the sidewalks into masterpieces, from mind-bending 3D scenes to ridiculously realistic drawings. About 200 will be on display along the Avenue of Art during the fall festival that also features autumnal activities like a "zombie field" and pumpkin carving.

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Close-up of scarecrow that looks like a robot
Courtesy of Alpharetta Convention & Visitors Bureau

More than 150 scarecrows line the streets of Alpharetta, Georgia, during the annual Scarecrow Festival. And these are no average scarecrows; past designs have included Minions, unicorns, and Frida Kahlo. All are designed by local schools, businesses, nonprofits, and neighborhoods. In addition to admiring the creativity of these straw-made masterpieces — and, of course, voting for your favorite via Instagram — you can also play a little cornhole, take a hayride, and dance through the streets to country music.

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Flower-adorning indigenous Hawaiian women on horseback
Eugene Tanner Photography/Courtesy of Aloha Festivals

Fall sets the scene for Hawaii's annual Aloha Festivals — formerly Aloha Week — which calls for free festivals and cultural celebrations all over the state. The grand finale is Honolulu's Floral Parade, a colorful procession of female and male pau horseback riders, floats covered with Hawaiian flowers, and traditional music. Since its inception in 1946, the festival has aimed “to foster the Aloha Spirit through the perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture and the celebration of the diverse customs and traditions of Hawai‘i.”

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Sheep being herded down Main Street

Jennifer_Sharp/Getty Images

One of the country's more unique fall happenings — and so quintessentially Idaho — is the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, during which 1,500 sheep are herded down Ketchum's Main Street. The tradition started in 1996 as a small community gathering and has since grown into a whole week of farm-to-table dinners, cooking and food demonstrations, wool workshops, a folklife fair, sheepdog trials, and a parade.

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Fall is spooky season, and the small town of Centralia has been celebrating with a Halloween parade and festival for close to 100 years. Featured events include a chili cook-off, car show, and flea market. The parade itself is participatory, so community members are encouraged to dress up and join in. Those with the best costumes are given awards at the end.

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Turning Leaves Festival sign
Courtesy of Visit Indiana

If Indiana’s Festival of Turning Leaves doesn’t scream fall, what does? Sure, New England gets most of the credit for its incredible leaf-peeping opportunities, but don't count out the colors of the good old Midwest. Thorntown celebrates the season of change with a plethora of activities and events, including a corn hole tournament, live music, and a classic car show.

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Iowa road lined with bright fall foliage

BojiPhoto/Getty Images

If you've never heard of a scenic drive festival, allow Iowa to explain: Each October, the historic villages of Van Buren County hold flea markets, demonstrations, food markets, wine tastings, parades, corn hole tournaments, live music, fun runs, car shows, and you-name-it along a route lined with colorful Iowa foliage. To get the full experience, visitors should take their time on the route, perhaps by booking a charming B&B along it, over the two-day festival.

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Rose Hill's annual fall festival is everything you want in an autumnal gathering and more — think: turtle races and a fishing derby to break up the otherwise predictable bill of carnival rides, parades, chili cook-offs, fun runs, and car shows (these, too, are included). Especially unique is the medallion hunt, a community-wide treasure hunt for a button just five inches in diameter.

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Close-up of someone holding a fried chicken leg
Steffi Victorioso/iStockphoto/Getty Images

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. London, Kentucky, home of the original KFC restaurant, celebrates the life of its founder, Colonel Sanders, with a World Chicken Festival every September. The festival invites guests to dress like the iconic character for a lookalike contest, participate in the annual egg drop, and — if you don't eat too much fried chicken — run in the traditional 5K. One of the highlights of the festival is the world’s largest stainless steel skillet.

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Participants of rice eating competition chowing down
Philip Gould/Getty Images

Louisiana’s oldest agricultural festival is the International Rice Festival, located in Crowley, Louisiana. This event includes rice cooking contests and eating contests, of course, but also many musical acts on the Supreme Rice Soundstage, fiddle performances, a car show, and even a frog derby. Every year, the festival recognizes a Farmer (and Junior Farmer) of the Year.

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People floating on river in makeshift pumpkin boats
Courtesy of Damariscotta Pumpkin Fest & Regatta

The Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta celebrates Damariscotta's waterfront location and history of shipbuilding with pumpkin boats. Participants plop into gutted gourds and take to the river for some seasonal fun. Pumpkinfest also features decorated — really decorated; not the type you carve at home — pumpkins displayed around town and a 40-mile Pumpkin Trail that includes family activities all along the coast.

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Ocean City boardwalk on a wet fall day
Bob Balestri/Getty Images

Ocean City is home to OCtoberfest (get it? "O.C.-toberfest?), which isn't much like the German festival from which it draws inspiration. Instead of beer tents, you'll find a Halloween-themed beach maze, pet costume parade, "trunk or treat," and a pumpkin race.

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Horse-drawn carriage making its way along the parade
Courtesy of The Big E

The Big E — short for the Eastern States Exposition — held in West Springfield, is the biggest agricultural event in the Northeast and one of the largest fairs in the U.S., each year welcoming about 1.5 million people. It features a circus, Mardi Gras-style parade, agricultural competitions, arts and crafts, food contests, and big-name musical acts at the Big E Arena, just to name a few events.

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Yates Cider Mill in an old red barn during fall

Ekardiff/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Michigan's Fall Fest is a chance to immerse oneself in simpler times at Olde World Canterbury Village, a designated historical landmark basically on the banks of Lake Orion. The theme park-like setting is ideal for indulging in donuts and fresh cider from Yates Cider Mill or partaking in pumpkin bowling and tic-tac-toe. Don't forget to dress up the kids and dogs for their respective costume contests.

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Two women in renaissance garb posing for camera

Myotus/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is a seven week-long affair held only on weekends from the end of August to early October. You can expect all the fixings of a typical ren fair — turkey legs, mead, themed weekends, artisan demos, magic shows, jousting, and more. The festival, held in Shakopee, is the largest of its kind in the U.S., drawing 300,000 visitors annually.

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High-angle view of downtown Cleveland lit up at night
Rory Doyle/Courtesy of Cleveland, Mississippi Tourism

Thousands gather in the Mississippi Delta for Cleveland Octoberfest for live music, an artistic showcase, kids activities, and, ultimately, barbecue. The event is a Memphis Barbecue Network-sanctioned event and features a BBQ cooking competition, so you can bet you'll be getting a belly full at this quintessentially Southern event.

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Person holding up crafts in their market stall
Bob Linder/Courtesy of Silver Dollar City Attractions

Branson, Missouri is home to the 61-acre amusement park Silver Dollar City, and Silver Dollar City is home to the annual National Harvest Festival. Artists and crafters come from all over to showcase and sell their goods. At night, thousands of pumpkins are illuminated during the Pumpkins In The City event, creating quite the spectacle. Despite the jack-o'-lanterns, the park ensures visitors this is a "non-frightful" event fit for the whole family.

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The Montana Brewers Fall Rendezvous, put on by the Montana Brewers Association, is your average beer fest set to blues, folk, and bluegrass music. Held in Caras Park, Missoula, the one-day event is a chance to try unlimited samples of more than 100 beers from 35 Montana brewers, then go home at the end of the day with a collectible glass as your souvenir.

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Person hoisting someone else up a tree to pick apples
Courtesy of Nebraska Tourism

The Nebraska City-based AppleJack Festival is said to attract up to 80,000 people every year. Taking place over two weekends, the festival centers around all things apple — apple pie, apple cider, caramel apples, apple fritters, and more. There’s also a parade, a classic car show, live music, water barrel fighting (it's a Midwestern thing), a flea market, and a carnival.

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Person lighting up a lantern in the dark
Courtesy of RiSE Lantern Festival

The RiSE Lantern Festival, which takes place in the Mojave Desert, is designed to elevate hope, ignite dreams, and create memories as we collectively move into the holiday gathering season. It's the world largest sky lantern release, and watching thousands of lanterns ascend into the night sky is quite a powerful scene. Also included in the festival is a number of wellness events such as yoga, meditation, breath work, and sound bathing.

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New Hampshire

Jack-o'-lanterns displayed on shelves
John Greim/Getty Images

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 plus rides, games, live music, food and beverages, and haunted attractions. Evenings will see a zombie walk, jack-o'-lantern lighting, and Halloween movie screenings at Main Street's Colonial Theatre.

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New Jersey

Every year, Heaven Hill Farm in Vernon holds a Great Pumpkin Festival with an extensive — and eclectic — event lineup. Included is a stunt dog show, themed corn maze, duck and pig races, gem mining, apple cider donut making, apple cannons, wine tasting, a spider web crawl, and carnival rides, all made even more appealing with funnel cakes and fried Oreos.

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New Mexico

Colorful hot air balloons ascending over a forest-lined river
Bennie Bos/Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

One of the most popular fall festivals in the U.S. is certainly the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a total bucket-list event. Imagine 600 colorful balloons ascending at once over the city, then floating whimsically over the New Mexico desert. Apart from the awe-inspiring mass ascension, the fiesta also includes live music, flying competitions, a car show, and night events. The simplicity and beauty of hot air balloons lit up at dusk is not to be overlooked.

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New York

House with Thanksgiving-inspired jack-o'-lantern light display

SurFeRGiRL30/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

New York sets the mood for Halloween with a dual-city Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze. Taking place in both Hudson Valley and Long Island, the immersive light show features thousands of hand-carved, illuminated pumpkins, all making up elaborate art installations like the Statue of Liberty, animated windmills, and walk-through tunnels. Long Island's lasts about five weeks and Hudson Valley's nine weeks.

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North Carolina

Table of gourd-inspired candles with blue ribbon
Courtesy of the North Carolina Gourd Society

In the fall, Raleigh hosts the North Carolina Gourd Festival, held at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. Every year is a different theme such as “Under The Sea" or "Just My Imagination". In addition to craft competitions — in which all the crafts are gourd-inspired or made from actual gourds — there are also crafting classes and a craft supply market.

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North Dakota

Person dressed as Viking entertaining a child at festival

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Stephanie Morris/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

At North America's largest Scandinavian festival, Norsk Høstfest, you can expect enough old-world Nordic fare to induce a food coma in addition to traditional storytelling, dancing, and musical acts. You'll see lots of Vikings and Viking attire, and an international marketplace where Swedish clogs, Norwegian sweaters, stoneware pottery, and Ekelund linens beg to be bought for Christmas presents.

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House decorated with jack-o'-lanterns at night
Courtesy of Destination Mansfield

Mansfield will light up the night sky with more than 1,000 glowing pumpkins this fall. The Great Pumpkin Glow is a community-wide light show featuring not just pumpkins but also gourds, mums, hay bales, corn stalks, and holiday lights. Food, face painting, a children's carnival, and scarecrow displays up the ante on the event.

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Performers in lederhosen on a stage with beer steins
Courtesy of Linde Oktoberfest

The Tulsa Oktoberfest, running since 1979, is often deemed one of the top Oktoberfest celebrations in the country. Expect an authentic Bavarian celebration, the grand finale of the city's German week, including 200 taps of beer, local German bands, and on-theme goodies like bratwurst and wienerschnitzel. Highlights are the annual Dachshund Dash, bier barrel races, and stein carrying and holding contests.

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Large kites flying on an Oregon beach

beachgrampa/Getty Images

The beach at D River State Recreation Site in Lincoln City, Oregon, is reliably windy, which makes it the perfect venue for a kite festival. Held in October, the Lincoln City Fall Kite Festival features giant kites depicting whales, octopuses, and other enchanting symbols, plus Rokkaku kites, a type of Japanese fighter kite whose six-sided design makes it incredibly fast and maneuverable. In addition to a parade and flying performances, there are also kitemaking demonstrations.

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Town of Jim Thorpe surrounded by fall foliage

Alex Potemkin/Getty Images

Jim Thorpe, the gateway to the Poconos, is often called "the Switzerland of America" because of its Swiss-inspired architecture and mountain scenery. The Jim Thorpe Fall Foliage Festival is a chance to immerse oneself in the European flair of this Pennsylvania hamlet. The free event, taking place over four weekends, features ghost tours, leaf-peeping train rides, four music stages, and carriage rides.

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Rhode Island

People shooting oysters together in a circle
Stephanie Ewens/Courtesy of Ocean State Oyster Festival

Head to the Ocean State Oyster Fest in Providence for a last taste of summer while transitioning into the cooler months. Celebrating a fine Rhode Island specialty and craft beer, this festival serves up locally and sustainably sourced oysters from an array of RI-based growers alongside live music.

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South Carolina

Table of pecan pies
Courtesy of City of Florence

Held in November, South Carolina’s Pecan Festival draws more than 50,000 visitors to eat and honor the state's favorite snack, pecans. Visitors can expect live entertainment, food and craft vendors, carnival rides, a car show, competitions, cook-offs, a Run Like a Nut 5K/10K/half marathon, and a bike ride.

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South Dakota

Glass of beer on railroad tracks with trains in background
Mitchell Riner/Courtesy of 1880 Train

Oktoberfests are common across the U.S., but have you ever heard of one being held on an antique train? That's what you'll find in Hill City, from which the Oktoberfest Express departs for Keystone. Passengers drink, dance to polka music, and indulge in German foods on the two-hour journey. They're also free to pregame for the trip on the 1880 Train lawn for two and a half hours before departure.

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Giant boxes of apples for sale at market
Courtesy of Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce

The Unicoi County Apple Festival in Erwin is a repeat winner of the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association’s Pinnacle Award. More than 110,000 visitors attend annually for two days of apple pie eating, corn hole tournaments, an apple dumpling contest, and two entertainment stages featuring live music. You will not leave hungry.

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Big Tex welcoming festivalgoers to the State Fair of Texas

The Washington Post/Contributor/Getty Images

Big Tex is the official greeter, icon, and main event of the State Fair of Texas. He's a 65-year-old, 55-foot-tall, waving cowboy (the world's tallest) welcoming Dallas fairgoers year after year. While in his presence, you might be inclined to try fairground snacks like deep-fried honey, a pickle wrapped in a Fruit Roll-Up, fried chicken between two funnel cakes, or fried beer.

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People walking in the streets at sunset
Courtesy of Visit Ogden

Ogden's Harvest Moon Celebration bids farewell to summer with seasonal brews, music by local artists, a beer garden, and some unexpected acts (think stilt walkers and wandering musicians). Ogden is a charming mountain town that claims to be the oldest settlement in Utah. This festival pays homage to its rich history and the quirky culture Ogden is known for today.

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Red wagon, mums, and hay bales on foggy autumn morning

Greg Prior/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Cottagecore admirers will find a haven in Danville's Autumn on the Green, a celebration of all things rural and cozy against the backdrop of Vermont's famously vivid fall foliage. Local artists, crafters, and collectors showcase and sell their woodworking, handwoven rugs, homespun yarn, antiques, body products, candles, and more. Come to stock up or to indulge in the comfort food (BBQ, stews, and whoopie pies included).

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Child picking apples from a tree
Courtesy of Graves Mountain Lodge

The Graves Mountain Resort Apple Harvest Festival in Syria features bluegrass music, arts and craft vendors, food, hayrides, farm animals, and apple butter making. During the festival, you can even pick your own apples from the orchard. Graves Mountain serves its very own hard cider and apple wine for the over-21 set.

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Beer barrels and people in lederhosen at German festival
Danita Delimont/Alamy

The Pacific Northwest's own little Germany — the Bavarian-inspired town of Leavenworth, Washington — hosts the annual Autumn Leaf Festival, featuring a leaf display and scavenger hunt, dance performances, a youth circus, and grand parade. Packed with European-style chalets and surrounded by mountains, Leavenworth looks autumnal pretty much year-round.

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Washington, D.C.

People pouring beer from a long row of taps
Courtesy of Neighborhood Restaurant Group

The Snallygaster D.C. beer festival features more than 350 different brews on draft from 175-plus American and international producers. The beer no doubt helps to wash down D.C.'s best food truck fare, intermixed with the countless beer tents. Between bites and sips, you can dance to live music and DJ sets or partake in family-friendly activities.

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West Virginia

Pumpkins in various shapes, sizes, and colors on display
Carolyn Hutchins/iStockphoto/Getty Images

Originally held to help local farmers raise and sell pumpkins, the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival in Milton has grown since 1986 to a grand event that attracts some 40,000 people. Farmers compete for the largest pumpkin, and bakers vie for the title of best pumpkin treats. Pageants, a parade, living history demonstrations, chainsaw carving, and apple butter churning make the weekend unique.

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Parade participants dressed in apple costumes
Courtesy of Bayfield Chamber & Visitor Bureau

The Bayfield Apple Festival has been a tradition honoring the region's bountiful apple harvest and rich agricultural heritage since 1962. Held on the shore of Lake Superior, this event has all the makings of a traditional apple festival — pie contests, a craft fair and farmers market, and so forth — but with some creative happenings like the apple peeling contest. Enter if you think you have what it takes.

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Drink beer for a good cause at Casper's Oktoberfest, a typical Bavarian-inspired beer fest with local brews from about 15 regional breweries along with music, dancing, and brats aplenty. Part of the proceeds go to Make-A-Wish Wyoming, so you shouldn't feel guilty about having another round. Or two.

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