The Carolinas are home to several delectable fall food festivals

 By Corrine Watson

August 30, 2019 (Updated)

As fall slowly blows away the sweltering summer heat, it’s time to trade in the refreshing fruity drinks and sunscreen for a cozy sweater and crisp apple cider. While we’ll miss cookouts on the grill, fall brings in the best food season of the year with apple pies, savory chili, soups, and roasts. From smoked barbeque and fried chicken to locally grown produce, North Carolina stands out in Southern food culture, so take a break from the overwhelming consumption of pumpkin spice to cleanse your palate with savory cuisines offered by some of North Carolina’s fall food festivals. These events bring together community, and craftsmanship through the universal pleasure of good food.

Euphoria – September 19 – 22 – Greenville, SC

Tickets: $40 – $400 per event

Since 2006, singer/songwriter Edwin McCain and local restaurateur Carl Sobocinski have brought together the food and music experience with their annual Euphoria festival. This four-day experience has everything from tastings, multi-course dinners, cooking demonstrations, and wine seminars along with live music performances. Euphoria offers guests Southern comfort, hospitality, and an intimate atmosphere with opportunities to mingle with musicians and chefs to share stories, recipes and techniques. This cozy experience extends to the table as all-star chefs prepare savory dishes to warm your belly and excite your taste buds.

Carolina in the Fall – September 20 – 21 – Wilkesboro, NC

Tickets: $30 – $140 (adult) Free (children)

Carolina in the Fall celebrates the changing of the seasons with some of the region’s best food and folk/roots music. Local food trucks bring some of their best recipes for guests to enjoy while chefs compete for the festival’s Food Truck Championship trophy. The weekend will be packed with entertainment and events for every interest, including Contra and clog dancing classes, artist workshops, as well as The Bobby Martin Songwriting competition and The Chad Lovette Memorial Trail Run and Ride. The music lineup features several notable Carolina bands such as Chatham County Line, The Black Lillies, Cicada Rhythm, and hosts, the Kruger Brothers. 

PepperFest – September 22 – Pittsboro, NC 

Tickets: $5 – $100, Free (children)

The Pepper Festival highlights culinary creativity and exploration with delightful pepper-themed creations. The festival celebrates sustainable agriculture, farmers and the craftsmanship of cooks, brewers, and artisans as they come together to prepare unique dishes for visitors. Guests will experience everything from sweet, savory, and spicy as they sample the various stuffed peppers, salsas, gumbos, and chilis. Previous years have seen jalapeno ice cream and habanero-infused vodka, and this year will undoubtedly bring a variety of creative food and beverage offerings. While the kids enjoy the Fun Zone, filled with crafts and activities, adults can swing by the stage to catch live music performances.

North Carolina Muscadine Festival – September 27 – 28 – Kenansville, NC

Tickets: $10-$20 (Adults) $6-$12 (Military) $5 (Children 6-20) Free (Children 5 and under)

The annual Muscadine Festival returns to Duplin county, celebrating the heritage of the muscadine grape. The festival will feature samples of local wine, jam, jelly, and a delightful assortment of desserts. During this two-day event, the community comes together to join in wine-making and cooking contests. Food trucks and tailgates will also bring an array of food for guests to explore. A variety of entertainment from crafts, local vendors, and dancing to a classic line-up of country music performers will bring a lively atmosphere for a weekend of family fun.

CLTure Asian Street Food Fair – September 29, 2019 – Charlotte, NC 

Tickets: $30 (Adults) $15 (Children 12 and under) 

CLTure, Kirin Ichiban and Super G Mart will bring the CLTure Street Food Fair to South End on Sunday, September 29, 2019 at Amos’ Southend! This immersive event experience will showcase Charlotte’s Asian culture through food, drinks, art, performances, handmade goods, and more.

Attendees will be able to enjoy samples of delicious Asian foods and treats in a family-friendly street-style market environment. Featured restaurants and vendors will include Let’s Meat, O-Ku, Saigon Palace, Yummi Banh Mi, Deejai Thai, Hibiscus, Jp food Togo, Honey Buns Cafe, Super G Mart, Kirin Ichiban, The Peaceful Dragon, and more surprises!

North Carolina Seafood Festival – October 4 – 6 – Morehead City, NC

Tickets: Free 

The annual North Carolina Seafood Festival returns with a weekend packed with delicious food and entertainment for the whole family. For over 25 years, this event has celebrated the social and economic impact of the seafood industry in North Carolina and highlights the variety and culture of regional seafood while raising funds to support local organizations and scholarships. Not only will guests indulge in some of the best seafood in the Southeast, but they will also have the opportunity to learn techniques from cooking demonstrations offered by culinary professionals. There’s the added experience of discovering local vendors along the streets of Morehead City and listening to live performances from local talent to give the whole family something to enjoy.

Taste of China Food and Culture Festival – October 5 – Durham, NC

TIckets: Free

The Chinese American Friendship Association brings cultural immersion to Durham’s Bicentennial Plaza with the Taste of China Food and Cultural Festival. The event launched in October 2018 as a celebration of Chinese heritage and as an initiative to bring the Chinese American community together. Its second year returns strong with a variety of food and cultural activities. Guests will have the chance to taste authentic cuisine from various Chinese regions, as well as explore live performances including music, martial arts, and traditional dragon and lion dancing. The plaza will also be filled crafts, art, children’s activities, and souvenirs to commemorate the day.

Taste of China Festival

Farm to Fork in the Garden – October 6 – Belmont, NC

Tickets: $85 (adults), $50 (young adults), Free (children 12 and under)

Farm to Fork in the Garden returns to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens for a second year to bring guests delightful flavors of fall produced in their own backyard. The event is hosted by the Piedmont Culinary Guild and proceeds for the event go toward programs at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS). Farm to Fork will feature over 50 local chefs and farmers who will partner together to create several unique Carolina dishes proudly crafted with local ingredients from the Piedmont area. While sampling the food, guests are invited to explore local craft beer, wine, and spirits. Between indulging in the local cuisine, guests will have the opportunity to sit back and listen to live music and explore the lush meadows, trails and fountains of the gardens while kids are also invited to the Lost Hollow for family-friendly activities. 

Farm to Fork 2018 at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Photo: Peter Taylor

Cider Festival – October 12 – Asheville, NC

Tickets: $15 – $55

Fall wouldn’t be complete without apple cider and this October, Asheville brings a sweet array of flavor in its 7th annual Cider Festival along the picturesque French Board River. Guests will see a variety of beverages from hard cider, mead, and apple wine. Some of Western North Carolina’s best chefs will also prepare local dishes to sample. The festival invites several local bands to perform during the event, creating a lively atmosphere. While kids enjoy hands-on educational crafts focused on green living, adults can build on their own knowledge with interactive demonstrations on sustainability and making of cider.

TerraVita – October 16 – 19 – Chapel Hill/Carrboro, NC

Tickets: $40 – $120 

TerraVita’s 10th annual festival celebrates its final year in Chapel Hill this October. This four-day event brings together the best culinary artisans of the Southeast and leads the way in sustainability. The event proudly partners with organizations such as TABLE and Hungry Harvest to produce zero waste by packing rescued produce to be delivered to local families. Since 2010, the festival has raised over $60,000 for local organizations such as the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, CHOP NC (Culinary Historians of Piedmont), and the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. The event will feature multi-course family-style dinners prepared by chefs across the state, as well as barbeque by some of the state’s top pitmasters and smokers. Over 40 NC chefs as well as sustainable beverage makers of organic coffee, craft sodas, microbrews, and natural wine will be on site. TerraVita also gives visitors the opportunity to explore local venues from Fearrington Village, Carrboro Town Commons, The Crunkleton bar, and the Village Green. For those interested in learning more about sustainable food, the event hosts classroom sessions for workshops, tastings, and discussions led by culinary experts.  

North Carolina Wine Festival – October 26 – Raleigh, NC

Tickets: $35 – $70

For those looking to expand their wine knowledge and tastes, the North Carolina Wine Festival is a must. The festival was created to showcase local businesses and vineyards and celebrate the agriculture of locally grown grapes. This year, guests will have the chance to try over 100 locally made wines. Food vendors will be on the grounds for guests to cleanse their palate between samples. While guests savor their drink, they can browse the delightful treats and trinkets of local vendors and catch live music from the main stage. 

North Carolina State Fair – October 17 – 27 – Raleigh, NC

Tickets: $10 – $13 (adult) $5 – $7 (youth) Free (children 5 and under)

Come out to the annual North Carolina State Fairgrounds this October and spend a day eating everything from turkey legs, funnel cakes, fried treats, smoked meats, and more. The event is put on by the NC Department of Agriculture and offers visitors the opportunity to get a closer look at the industry with interactive educational sessions to cultivate an appreciation and curiosity for the environment and nature in guests both young and old. Between the delicious delicacies, guests can shop for souvenirs and treats to bring home. The grounds will be packed with activities and entertainment from pig racing, magic shows, artistic demonstrations, tractor pulls, and a Homegrown Music Fest with a lineup of talented local artists including Raleigh’s American Aquarium.

North Carolina Oyster Festival – October 19 – 20 – Ocean Isle Beach, NC

Tickets: $5 (adult) Free (Children 12 and under)

The summer may be over, but the crashing waves and boardwalks of the beach are always calling. This October, the North Carolina Oyster Festival returns with a variety of oyster-centric food, making the event a must for any seafood lover. In its 39th year, the festival stands out as a local tradition. The lineup of country funk bands gives the festival a vibrant energy. Between indulging in the delightful morsels and music, various craft booths and contests hosted by local vendors and volunteers will provide entertainment for the whole family.

The Barbeque Festival – October 26 – Lexington, NC

Tickets: Free

Lexington’s annual Barbeque Festival returns for its 36th year. As the “Barbeque Capital of the World,” the county has named October “Barbeque Month” and hosts a variety of creative and athletic contests leading up to the main event. At the heart of the festival, visitors can grab plates of Lexington’s signature slow-cooked pork shoulder barbeque, as well as hotdogs, coleslaw, and pigtail fries prepared by the finest pit masters. During the event, guests are invited to explore local vendors and activities around the grounds. Exhibits for the event also include an antique car show, pig racing, bicycle stunts, and lumberjack sports.

Sip + Savor – November 3 – Durham, NC

Tickets: $95

Sip + Savor’s third annual food and wine festival will bring together 30 of the best local chefs and culinary artisans presenting mouthwatering cuisine paired with wine from across the globe. All three levels of the Durham Performing Arts Center will be open for guests to explore and indulge. Tickets for the event include a souvenir glass and access to live music on the DPAC stage. The festival is hosted by TASTE and the event raises money for the non-profit organization SEEDS, an urban and classroom project to educate and cultivate a respect for the environment and love of growing and cooking in young people.

Highlands Food and Wine Festival – November 7 – 10 – Highlands, NC

Tickets: Sold Out

This year’s Highlands Food and Wine Festival, presented by the Highlands Chamber of Commerce and the Old Edwards Inn and Spa, brings back a jam-packed four-day lineup of Southern culture in food, drinks, and music. The most impressive music lineup of the fall offerings in the Carolinas, this weekend affair will feature music by Anderson East, The Infamous Stringdusters, The Wood Brothers, Nicole Atkins and Seattle soul rock band, The Dip. Each day guests will enjoy samples from local restaurants and indulge in regional craft beer and cocktails while listening to live music. Held against the lovely backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Highlands creates the perfect setting for nature lovers and explorers. 

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