10 Best Film Festivals

Most film buffs know about the big film festivals, but across the country there are smaller celebrations of the big screen. We've lined up an all-star cast of cities that host amazing film festivals. Take a peek.

It's that time of year, when red carpets roll out and superstars do their best to impress. It's award season, and Hollywood's gearing up for the godfather of award shows: the Oscars. But amidst the glamour of the Golden Globes, the SAGs and the Emmys, lesser known shows are happening over the country in celebration of the films and filmmakers that haven't yet hit the big time. We've compiled a list of some of the best small film festivals around the country – from the action-packed ActionFest in Asheville, NC, to the spooky All Souls Fest in Tuscon, AZ – to give you a taste of what goes on outside of Hollywood.

Ready to Mingle: Check out the Best Cities for Singles. 


Ranking Criteria

Small venues • Community supported • Star studded events

10. Traverse City, MI Population 15,168
9. Asheville, NC Population 86,789
8. Bend, OR Population 81,780
7. Muskogee, OK Population 38,776
6. Tupelo, MS Population 35,561
5. Champaign, IL Population 84,008
4. Greensboro, NC Population 279,427
3. Tucson, AZ Population 528,374
2. Wichita, KS Population 387,147
1. Salem, OR Population 160,008

10 Best Summer Festivals

We've picked the best summer festivals that exemplify the cities where they take place. These celebrations aren't just drawing tourists, they are treasured by their communities.

To make our picks for best summer festivals for 2013, we looked for those most connected to their host cities' identities in terms of theme, the experiences to be had and community participation.

"Festivals often highlight the distinctiveness of a city and help it establish its unique brand," says Lee Fisher, president and CEO of CEOs for Cities. "Every city must discover its authenticity and use it as a comparative advantage."

As we wrote on the Livability.com Best Places Blog, the best community festivals benefit cities in six major ways: create or reinforce branding efforts, increase tourism, educate, enhance community pride, encourage exercise and raise money.

Meanwhile, the American Bus Association, which represents the motorcoach tour and travel industry, suggested we also look for locations with attractions beyond the festivals that enhance itineraries for those who attend. The ABA releases its own annual festivals ranking, which is based on bus and tour operators' input.

With these factors in mind, we then consulted with a variety of festival organizers and travel professionals to identify festivals that fulfill most or all of these criteria.

Take a look at our picks for the 10 best festivals that connect with their cities.

Ranking Criteria

Festival best showcasing community values • Number and diversity of festival activities • Community participation • Attractions beyond the festivals

10. Bozeman, MT Population 40,319
9. Papillion, NE Population 19,463
8. Brattleboro, VT Population 7,259
7. Shreveport, LA Population 200,015
6. Nashville, TN Population 634,512
5. State College, PA Population 42,129
4. Athens, GA Population 119,684
3. Abingdon, VA Population 8,143
2. Portland, OR Population 612,206
1. Cheyenne, WY Population 62,195

10 Best Summer Fairs

There are hundreds of county and state fairs across the country. All of them represent what is good about their communities and bring people together. But some fairs are just better than others and worth traveling to, even if you don't live nearby. See which fairs got our blue ribbons.

State and county fairs are summertime staples in most places.

The good ones keep people coming back, year after year, to see who grew the biggest tomato, raised the fattest pig, or just to enjoy simple pleasures like funnel cake, merry-go-rounds and music. Fairs are celebrations of local agriculture, talent and traditions. Attend a fair and you'll get a glimpse of not only what, but who, makes a town tick.

The Livability.com team examined fairs across the country, looking at attendance, total entertainment value and the quality of life in the community to come up with a list of what we feel are some of the best fairs the country has to offer. They got our blue ribbons. See if they get yours.

Ranking Criteria

Large annual attendance • Total entertainment value • Highly livable community • Unique attractions/events

10. Rock Springs, WY Population 23,869
9. Vancouver, WA Population 168,050
8. Victorville, CA Population 120,703
7. Lebanon, TN Population 28,638
6. Shreveport, LA Population 200,015
5. Crown Point, IN Population 28,444
4. Louisville, KY Population 608,732
3. Puyallup, WA Population 38,720
2. West Des Moines, IA Population 61,266
1. Syracuse, NY Population 144,564

10 Best Food Festivals

What better thing to celebrate than food? We've crossed the country looking for great food festivals and think you'll like what we're serving up. So go on, dig in.

Songs are written about it. Stories revolve around it. What better thing to celebrate than food? And what better way to celebrate than a community-wide festival, bringing together favorite foods and local culture? Turns out, the saying is true, "You are what you eat." Communities can be defined by their food. Whether it's comfort food from the heart of the South or a chili kick from Colorado, food can turn a small town into a tourist destination or earn a big city high praise. And that, friends, is cause for celebration. From the weird and wacky RC and Moonpie Festival to the elegant Oregon Truffle Festival, we've scoured the country to give you a taste of some of the best food fests in the most livable cities. So go on, dig in.

Ranking Criteria

Restaurant scene or dish that defines local culture • Restaurant, festival or dish that has drawn accolades • Unusual themes

10. Newark, OH Population 47,829
9. Eugene, OR Population 159,615
8. Provo, UT Population 115,345
7. Muskogee, OK Population 38,776
6. Fargo, ND Population 113,464
5. Shelbyville, TN Population 20,779
4. Lexington, NC Population 19,129
3. Tupelo, MS Population 35,561
2. Pueblo, CO Population 108,073
1. Knoxville, TN Population 183,066