The Brewgrass Festival
Asheville, North Carolina
Moviegoers know the Blue Ridge Mountains from The Hunger Games, but the local Asheville residents can hardly go hungry with Obama-loving barbeque (12 Bones Smokehouse) and a former elBulli chef (Katie Button at Cúrate). The mountain town does not go thirsty either, having won four Beer City USA crowns. Each fall, the city celebrates its food, beer and bluegrass heritage with Brewgrass, a one-day mountain music event where Stone Brewing and Allagash are considered the commercial beers.
Music City Food + Wine Festival
If country crooner Trisha Yearwood can rock casseroles on the Food Network, the Kings of Leon can certainly start a food, wine and music fest in Nashville. KOL brothers Caleb (singer/guitar) and Nathan (drums) Followill started Music City in 2013, and elite chefs like Masaharu Morimoto and music acts like Billy Joe Shaver and the Watson Twins turned past events into a foodie hipster paradise. The festival food samples, booze tastings and well-curated music epitomize why Nashville is a trendy destination right now despite sharing a zip code with Toby Keith. Round three kicks off in September.
BottleRock Napa Valley
Napa Valley, California
The end is surely nigh when Steely Dan headlines Coachella, while No Doubt, Robert Plant and Snoop Dogg rock a Napa Valley wine festival. You can almost hear Bill Murray scream, “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!” Set for late May in America’s premiere vineyard destination, BottleRock pairs wine and rock (or wine and rhyme in Snoop’s case) alongside artisanal eats from Napa-area restaurants like Morimoto, Angele, Il Posto and Bui Bistro.
When it comes to per-capita chocolate consumption, the U.S. barely cracks the Top 20, so chocolate junkies should get their fix in Italy at Eurochocolate. Celebrating 22 years in October, the 10-day event fills the medieval walled town of Perugia with chocolate vendors, samples, sculptures and once even an igloo made from four tons of chocolate bricks. The 2015 theme is MustaChoc in honor of the chocolate mustache, a novelty food item with a very different meaning on Urban Dictionary.
Bonus: Festivals That ARE a Trip
Possum or grasshoppers? These types of options await you at the Roadkill Cook-Off in West Virginia and BugFest in North Carolina. No critters hopefully make it into the Southwest’s longest salad bar at Yuma Lettuce Days in Arizona, but avoid eating any greens from the cabbage head bowling or lettuce sculpturing. The Waikiki Spam Jam has nothing to do with email and everything to do with canned meat as Hawaii leads the nation (for reals) in Spam consumption. Mahalo, our Aloha State spammers!
David Jenison is a Los Angeles native. He has covered entertainment, restaurants and travel for more than 20 years as a writer and editor.