What’s Cooking? Top Culinary Food, Wine and Beer Festivals for Spring

Grab your fork and your corkscrew and get packing for these top food, wine and beer festivals for spring 2019. These events are a great way to sample the best menu items from top chefs, restaurants, wineries, and breweries, have fun, and even support local charities in the bargain.

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Six days of food, fun and sun await you at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival April 5-10 in downtown. The weekend begins with the Eat, Drink amp; Be Pretty Party, a fashion-forward event with food and wine from more than a dozen restaurants.

The Great Arizona Picnic at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall is a family friendly afternoon that includes a cooking challenge reminiscent of the popular TV show “Iron Chef.” The festival finishes with the who’s who of the culinary community at the Chef Tribute Dinner.

This year the event honors world-renowned star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Since 2002, the fest has raised more than $3.5 million for local arts programs.

The 21st Annual Taste of Vail showcases more than 30 guest chefs, restauranteurs and sommeliers, more than 50 international wineries, and a Colorado Lamb Cook-off. The all-you-can-eat-and-drink wristband is $75, for imbibing your way through Vail Village.

Restaurants include the Wildflower, at the Lodge at Vail, where I ate one of the best gourmet meals of my life last year. Wineries included the acclaimed California vineyards Trefethen and Grgich Hills.

Or, take the gondola to the Mountaintop Picnic, at 13,500 feet, with picture postcard views of the Vail Valley. The foodie event is perfectly times for Vail’s wildflower season, when colorful blooms emerge from the snow melt.

New Orleans is equally famous for its food, music and partying, and the New Orleans Wine and Food Experienceis one-stop shopping for all three.

It’s a five-day festival, May 24-28, 2011, featuring cooking demonstrations and tasting events by the Big Easy’s top restaurant chefs, including a Louisiana Crawfish and Rice seminar. NOWFE is a non-profit organization.

Proceeds from the 2010 event benefitted charities including the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and several programs for children. So you will be eating, drinking and partying for a good cause.

There are several culinary festivals in Virginia in May, beginning with the Virginia State Championship Chili Cook-off in Roanoke on May 4th.

Now in its 32nd year, the cook-off brings together some of the best chili cooks in the USA, along with chili and salsa tastings, live entertainment, a beer garden, and jalapeño eating contest, Wash down the spices at the Virginia Beer Festival, May 6 and 7 in Norfolk.

This brewfest gathers beers from nearly three dozen domestic and international breweries, along with great music and food tastings.

The Ninth Avenue International Food Festival launches New York City’s season of street fairs celebrating one the Big Apple’s many neighborhoods and ethnic or cultural groups.

2019 is the 46th annual Ninth Avenue event, which runs for nearly one mile, from 42nd Street to 57th Street, the weekend of May 14-15. More than 200 Ninth Avenue restaurants and vendors and offer everything from pepper squid (Thailand) and Nasi Goereng (Indonesia) to freshly shucked oysters and fresh baked brownies.

The vendor stalls are interspersed with entertainment that also represents the festival’s international flavor, from Egyptian belly dancers to Irish clog dancers. Proceeds help support local charities, especially those for children of low income families around Ninth Avenue.

It’s a great way to take a bite out of The Big Apple on the cheap.

Those are my four favorite culinary festivals, but there are hundreds of others throughout the United States, and overseas, too. For a comprehensive list of culinary festivals in the USA, by month or by state, check the Food Reference website.

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