This weekend in Boston we finally got a true sense of spring when the temperature climbed to 80 degrees on Saturday. All that sunshine has me ready for driving with the windows down, patio dining, swimming pools, beach days, flip flops and sun dresses.
The warmer weather also has me on the hunt for new outdoor activities. Thankfully Yankee Magazine just published their list of The Best Food Festivals in New England which is giving me all kinds of ideas for day trips and weekend getaways. The list is also making me pretty hungry.
Read on for my top eight picks for food festivals worth driving to this spring, summer and fall.
1. Chowder Festival (June 4, 2016) - This chowder festival takes place in Portsmouth, NH, one of my favorite places in all of New England. You can check out past Pop.Bop.Shop. coverage of Ceres Bakery, Moxy, Pickwick's Mercantile and Street (a bunch place I still dream about). After 32 years, the festival is the largest chowder celebration in New England, serving over 500 gallons of the signature local dish including clam, seafood and corn varieties. The festival takes place in Prescott Park on the Portsmouth waterfront. In addition to all the piping hot chowder, guests can also enjoy oysters and live music.
2. Vermont Cheesemakers Festival (July 17, 2016) - Last year I attended two farm dinners (Herb Lyceum and Smolak Farms) and now I am hooked on farm dining. If you're also a fan of dining in the field, the annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival takes place on Shelburne Farms, a 1,400 acre property on Lake Champlain. While you enjoying the view and an assortment of cheese, also be sure to attend the cheesemaking seminars and culinary demonstrations.
3. Maine Lobster Festival (August 3-7, 2016) - The people of Rockland, ME take this festival so seriously that they run it not for one day or for one weekend, but for five days straight! Over 1,100 volunteers help staff and serve up over 20,000 pounds of lobster and 1,700 of butter. I feel like I gained weight just typing that. Besides lobster galore, the festival also offers a cooking contest, a parade, a 10K road race and a lobster crate race. I have no idea what a lobster crate race is, but it sounds like fun!
4. Wild Blueberry Festival (August 19-20, 2016) - Though I'm not a huge fruit person, I did grow up reading Robert McCloskey's book "Blueberries for Sal." Blueberries are such a staple of New England summers, especially dessert. If you're a blueberry lover, head to Machia, ME for this celebration of the annual berry harvest. There is a pie-eating contest. Need I say more?
5. Newport Wine & Food Festival (September 22-25, 2016) - The reason to attend this food festival is because it takes place in the Rosecliff and Marble House mansions. I don't know about you, but I find myself in awe of the Newport mansions every time I visit. This fall food and wine fest features celebrity chefs, wine dinners, tastings and more.
6. What the Fluff? Festival (September 24, 2016) - Did you know that marshmallow fluff was invented in Somerville, MA? True story. This year the What the Fluff? Festival will celebrate its 10th year. Head to Union Square for tastings, musical performances and more.
7. Wellfleet OysterFest (October 15-17, 2016) - This year the Wellfleet OysterFest is turning sweet 16. While the town may be packed Memorial Day - Labor Day, true Outer Cape fans return for this fall celebration of Wellfleet's best known export - the oyster. The festival includes a shucking contest, cooking demonstrations, live music, film screenings, arts and crafts, a spelling bee (yes, really) and a road race.
8. Cider Days (November 5-6, 2016) - New England is a pretty beer-focused place, but come November, it's all about cider. This two day festival celebrates cidermaking by showcasing over 90 varieties of the beloved beverage. They also have a cider and cheese tasting. Yes, please.
And there you have it! Eight great food festivals worth road tripping to. Are there other annual food events you always look forward to?
*All images courtesy of Yankee Magazine.