The Most Unique Food Festival in Every State
We scoured all 50 states to pinpoint the most far-fetched food festivals in each state. Here's where to find them.
From strawberries to scrapple and 'chowda' to cupcakes, food is a central part of making a city great. Even better? The hyper-local and specific festivals that cities hold to celebrate their brand of local flavor.
Whether you're looking to plan a road trip or would rather stay close to home, we've compiled a list of the can't-miss food festivals in every state.
National Peanut Festival
Known as "The Peanut Capital of the World," most of the country's peanuts are grown within a 100-mile radius of Dothan, AL. No wonder the city holds the 10-day National Peanut Festival each November to celebrate the harvest. With over 200 acres of attractions, exhibits, concert stages, livestock shows and food vendors, there's plenty to see – and eat!
While peanuts may be the cause for the celebration, most of the food you'll find is classic fair food and inventive new concoctions, like fried elephant ears dusted with powdered sugar, peach cobbler in a cone, Walking Tacos (all the taco fixings are added right into a snack-sized corn chip bag) and one vendor, The Corn Dog Man, who boasts the world's best corn dog.
Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival
Beer enthusiasts rejoice! Alaska has two significant festivals just for brews in all their varieties. The Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival, held in January, draws breweries from across the state and even from across the globe to introduce festival-goers to some top brews. So have your tasting cup ready to sample something new or try a twist on a favorite flavor like American- and German-style wheat beers, smoked or steamed beers, and much, much more at this unique festival.
Rockin' Taco Street Fest
This fabulous Arizona food festival started small and has already outgrown itself a few times over. Now, Rockin' Taco Street Fest is a beer and tacos bonanza that takes over a park in the center of Chandler every September. Whether you prefer the simple flavors of an al pastor taco or you're adventurous enough to try just about anything on a tortilla, this event will have the perfect taco for you.
Each vendor offers at least one taco variety priced at just $2, as well as Mexican grilled corn, churros, and other delicious Mexican and Tex-Mex favorites. And beverage booths serve up margaritas, beer, and tequila and vodka cocktails. The festival also features excellent bands for all-day entertainment, lucha libre wrestling, a souped-up car show, and taco and street corn eating contests if you aren't too full.
Cave City Watermelon Festival
Cave City, AR
Cave City in northeastern Arkansas is the self-proclaimed home of "the world's sweetest watermelons." And every July, locals back up the claim by celebrating and feasting on the sweet summer treat at the Cave City Watermelon Festival. The festival offers up a free watermelon feast, which is reason enough to venture here, but the three-day event also features a children's fishing derby, a car show, a pancake breakfast, a parade, live music and a kid's wet zone. Watermelon-focused entertainment includes a host of watermelon games as well as a speed-eating contest, seed spitting contest and an auction of the year's prize watermelons.
Napa Truffle Festival
If you want to experience the magic of the mysterious truffle, you are going to love the Napa Truffle Festival. First, you can savor some of the most mouthwatering truffle dishes paired with wine from the finest wineries in Napa. Then, learn how to incorporate truffles into dishes you can make at home from Michelin-star and master chefs. Festival-goers particularly curious about the truffle world can even explore truffle orchards to learn how they're harvested.
Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival
Paying homage to the green chiles grown in the area, particularly the Pueblo chile, the Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival in late September is a delicious and fun way to usher in the new season. The event features more than 50 local bands playing on five stages, 180 vendors, a jalapeño-eating contest, chili and salsa cook-offs, a farmer's market, and even a Chihuahua parade.
Fans of the tasty, spicy pepper know this signals the end of the growing season and use this opportunity to stock their freezers with enough chiles to get them through the winter. More than 50 tons of Pueblo chiles are sold over the festival's three days.Fans of the tasty, spicy pepper know this signals the end of the growing season and use this opportunity to stock their freezers with enough chiles to get them through the winter. More than 50 tons of Pueblo chiles are sold over the festival's three days.
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New England Chowdafest
The slight chill of early October is the perfect time to enjoy the New England Chowdafest, an unlimited sampling of soups, chowders and bisques prepared by more than 30 chefs and restaurants from all over New England. The Westport-based event also includes a little friendly competition, as attendees choose their favorite soups in each category. Besides the bowlfuls of delicious flavors, guests will enjoy Italian and Mexican cuisine, beverage samplings, milk and cookies, and more. Sherwood Island State Park serves as a gorgeous host for this rain-or-shine event.
The Apple-Scrapple Festival
Held annually during the second weekend of October, The Bridgeville Apple-Scrapple Festival celebrating the region's two biggest agricultural products — apples and scrapple, a byproduct of pork. During the festival, hello in Bridgeville, DE, visitors can enjoy a variety of vendors, a food court and endless entertainment and, of course, plenty of apples and scrapple to go around.
Key Lime Festival
Key West, FL
When you think of quintessential Florida flavors, key limes unquestionably come to mind. The citrusy sweet and lip-puckering key lime has a distinct flavor that makes for one delicious pie. And the Key Lime Festival in Key West is the perfect place to enjoy a slice or two (or more).
The summertime bash includes events like the Key Lime Cocktail Sip & Stroll, the Key Lime Pie Hop and, of course, the World Key Lime Pie Eating Contest (contestants tend to get messy, diving into each whip cream-topped pie). The festival also features discussions on the history of key lime pie, demonstrations featuring how to bake the perfect pie and other events perfect for pie enthusiasts.
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Shrimp & Grits Festival
Jekyll Island, GA
Welcome to the South, where it's only right to have a festival dedicated to shrimp and grits on the calendar. These two dishes are Southern staples, and how could you not enjoy savoring this delicious dish when the breathtaking scenery of Jekyll Island is your backdrop? This is a full weekend event, so bring your appetite and an overnight bag because there are more than enough activities, foods and beautiful landscapes to satisfy even the pickiest palate.
In spring, the Spam Jam street festival celebrates all things Spam, the beloved canned meat that you'll find everywhere from corner stores to high-end restaurants in Hawaii. The festival includes multiple entertainment stages, tents with local chefs showcasing various ways to enjoy Spam and more. Check out local vendors and Hawaiian crafters selling their wares or stop by the Spam merchandise tent to gear up. This free, family-friendly event is one of the most popular in the state.
Idaho Spud Day
We couldn't put together a list of must-see festivals in Idaho without including the beloved Idaho Spud Day. Hosted in the small town of Shelley, just a hop, skip and a jump from Idaho Falls, this event has been bringing together residents and tourists alike to celebrate the humble potato for more than 90 years. It's a family-friendly event, featuring everything from a children's Tater Trot run to a potato baking competition and a potato picking contest, so be sure to bring the entire family along for this one.
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If your mouth starts watering at the smoky smell of crisping bacon, make sure to add this festival to your foodie bucket list. Baconfest Chicago draws thousands of bacon lovers from across the globe to sample cured meat concoctions developed by top Chicago-area chefs. The creative offerings include savory dishes like shrimp and grits topped with bacon, bacon gnocchi, bacon and sauerkraut pierogis, and sweets like bourbon-spiked cupcakes garnished with sugared bacon pieces and ice cream sandwiches stuffed with bacon-banana gelato and drizzled with bacon peanut butter fondue. Mark your calendars for this springtime festival in the Windy City!
Maple Syrup Festival
If you're a fan of maple syrup, prepare to have your socks knocked off at the Maple Syrup Festival in Wakarusa. The city has hosted this celebration for more than 45 years. In addition to sampling a variety of homemade maple syrup recipes, you can expect to find stacks of all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausages, live music performances, a wild animal show, and the crowning of the Festival Queen. Those looking for something savory can also enjoy barbecue, pulled pork, hot dogs and a medley of dessert options at this sweet festival.
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Ice Cream Days
Le Mars, IA
If the idea of a festival dedicated entirely to ice cream doesn't make you smile, we don't know what will. Ice Cream Days is a summer tradition among the people in Le Mars, home to the famous Blue Bunny. Need another reason to add this delicious Iowa food festival to your list? More ice cream is made in Le Mars than any other single location in the world. With accolades like that, you know they have to be doing something right!
National Festival of Breads
The National Festival of Breads in Manhattan, KS, is the place to be if you love carbs. In June, this one-day event features multiple stages with demonstrations, classes, sessions, and even lessons on how to shape bread. There are all kinds of fun activities for kids, plus samples, sweet treats and a food truck gathering outside. Learn from the experts, see the country's best bread-making in person and take home a pizza-in-a-bag at this unique but delicious celebration of bread. Entry is free, but a non-perishable food donation is encouraged.
Kentucky Bourbon Festival
No list of Kentucky food and drink festivals would be complete without the renowned Kentucky Bourbon Festival. For more than 20 years, this leading event in Bardstown has celebrated everything there is to love about Kentucky bourbon. You can discover the storied history of this hometown favorite, sample tasters from a variety of local distilleries and pick up some treasured Kentucky wares with 50,000 of your closest friends in the Bourbon Capital of the World.
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Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival
You may have attended a few food festivals over the years, but have you ever spent a weekend celebrating the humble meat pie? These beloved meals may not be quite as common in the United States as they are in other countries. Still, one trip to the annual Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival held in the aptly named Natchitoches, LA, could leave you wishing these tasty treats were on the menu more often. In addition to good food, this festival also includes live music, great entertainment, and various interesting vendor shops to enjoy.
Harvest on the Harbor
If you can't quite decide which festival is right for you, we've got good news. The Harvest on the Harbor event celebrates everything there is to love about Maine cuisine. You can explore the special tasting menus at restaurants throughout Portland, join your friends for a few distiller happy hours, participate in a Bloody Mary battle and even help decide who deserves the title of Best Maine Lobster Chef of the Year. Trust us when we say this is one Maine food festival you don't want to miss.
Chesapeake Crab, Wine & Beer Festival
What better way to celebrate summer than to attend the Chesapeake Crab, Wine and Beer Festival? This all-you-care-to-taste event in Baltimore, MD, is home to more than 50,000 crabs, a wide variety of beer and wine, and family-friendly activities like arts, crafts, and live music. Whether you show up to eat, drink or both, this is truly a festival for the entire family to enjoy. You can even purchase a la carte crabs if you want to keep the party rolling when you go back home.
If you consider yourself an oyster aficionado, mark your calendar for the annual Wellfleet OysterFest in Wellfleet, MA. This annual celebration is dedicated to the oysters that put this town on the map. Because this is a family-friendly event that takes place over two days, you have plenty of time to savor local cuisine fresh out of the water, enjoy live musical performances and savor some of the finest New England brews along the coastline. You can even do some shopping with a multitude of artisan vendors selling their handmade jewelry, pottery and more.
National Cherry Festival
Traverse City, MI
Michigan is the nation's leading producer of tart cherries, and the weeklong National Cherry Festival in Traverse City celebrates the fruit with more than 150 activities, most of which are free. There are three different parades, a large midway, an air show, outdoor movies, wine tours and a craft beer tent. Attendees can also enter the cherry pit spitting contests, join in a yoga session or beach volleyball match, or browse the cherry farmers market. This massive festival is the perfect celebration of summer in the Midwest.
Uptown Food Truck Festival
St. Paul, MN
The Uptown Food Truck Festival takes over Lake St. & Hennepin Ave. as one of the Twin Cities's tastiest events of the summer. Over 60 local food vendors from the St. Paul area sell fare ranging from green papaya salad to gourmet mini doughnuts. The festival also offers a wide variety of local craft brews. Entertainment includes live bands and DJ sets, as well as mini-golf and hammerschlagen.
Vardaman Sweet Potato Festival
"A little taste of heaven in Mississippi," otherwise known as the Vardaman Sweet Potato Festival in Vardaman, MS, celebrates the several generations of sweet potato producers in North Mississippi. Held over three days in the fall, the festival includes extensive Sweet Potato King/Queen contests, an original sweet potato recipe contest, an arts and crafts festival, antique tractor judging, a sweet potato tasting booth, a sweet potato pie-eating contest and a sweet potato festival banquet.
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Versailles Olde Tyme Apple Festival
Established almost 40 years ago, this apple-themed weekend festival each October in Versailles, MO, features old-fashioned favorites like a parade, car show, apple pie baking contest, and pancake breakfast, plus modern fair favorites like a 5K and fun run. Rounding out the Versailles Olde Tyme Apple Festival are a theater production, sock hop, quilt show, and live music. Just make sure you know before you go that it's pronounced "Ver-SAILs."
Trout Creek, MT
Running for more than 40 years now, the Huckleberry Festival is a weekend celebration honoring the huckleberry. This lesser-known purple fruit grows wild in the high and mountainous areas of the Trout Creek region and has developed quite the fan following.
While every part of the festival is worth checking out, you definitely want to sample the huckleberry ice cream cones and make an appearance at the weekend breakfasts for a few sweet huckleberry pancakes. And if you still have a little bit of room left over, there's always the huckleberry dessert contest at the end of the weekend.
Kool-Aid Days Festival
Hastings, NE is the birthplace of the iconic Kool-Aid drink, so it's no surprise that the city celebrates the sweet stuff with its annual Kool-Aid Days Festival. What's a better way to celebrate the drink than the festival full of fun and plenty of Kool-Aid samplings. The festival features the world's largest Kool-Aid Stand, boat races and a drinking contest. Pro Tip: While you're there, be sure to sample the iconic Kool-Aid beer from First Street Brewing.
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Great American Foodie Fest
The Great American Food Fest rounds up 50 of the most exciting and unique food trucks from across the country and gathers them in one place for guests to enjoy every November in Henderson. Highlighting trucks that have been featured on many television shows, this is the chance to sample everything from funnel cakes to sushi. You can graze and snack to your heart's content, and the festival also offers carnival rides, eating contests and more. There is no admission fee or fee to park at the festival, with each truck charging individually for their food.
New Hampshire Food Truck Festival
If you've never been to a food truck festival, you are missing out. The Annual New Hampshire Food Truck Festival is a family-friendly event in Portsmouth that welcomes food trucks of all shapes and sizes. You can enjoy some good old-fashioned comfort food, a few dressed-up dishes and some of the region's finest craft brews. They've even been known to set up a Bloody Mary station at this fun festival.
New Jersey Taco Festival
If you love Mexican food, you won't want to miss out on a visit to the New Jersey Taco Festival in September. The annual event features the best gourmet taco chefs in the Garden State, as well as live music, premium tequilas, contests and more, all held in the quaint town of Augusta.
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Pie Town Festival
Pie Town, NM
Way up at 8,000 feet near the Continental Divide, this town that was once on a major cattle drive route earned its name as a place to stop for dried fruit pies in the early 20th century. The cowboys no longer have to go out of their way for Pie Town; however, you can join the decades-old tradition of stopping for pies in Pie Town at the annual Pie Town Festival on the second Saturday in September.
Participate in the pie-baking contest – or for a bit less work, sign up for the pie-eating contest. There's also a horseshoes tournament, horned toad contest and a fun run. Pie Town says it's one of the few places in the U.S. where you can still see the Milky Way, so they say to come for the pie, but stay for the stars. You won't regret it.
Gardiner Cupcake Festival
Located about 80 miles North of New York City, the Gardiner Cupcake Festival makes for a great day trip to satisfy your sweet tooth and spend some time in the fresh air on a 450-acre farm in Gardiner. This springtime event includes over 10,000 different styles of cupcakes to choose from. The festival also features live music, wine tastings, children's activities, cupcake contests and more. Plus, it all takes place under tents so that you can enjoy the sweetest day of the year, rain or shine.
Asheville Beer Week
Asheville is known as Beer City! From local to regional brews, you'll be able to sample a wide variety of craft beers during Asheville Beer Week in the summer. The festival goes beyond just tastings with discussions, workshops and talks on the art of beer making. If you've ever wondered how craft brewers develop their signature flavors, you'll be able to find out during this weeklong event. You'll also discover how to pair beer with certain foods and how different beers are developed and brought to the marketplace. Now, who's thirsty?
North Dakota Chokecherry Festival
Thanks to a group of dedicated sixth graders, the distinctly sour-sweet chokecherry became the state's official fruit in 2007. The same year, the North Dakota Chokecherry Festival was created to honor the humble fruit and throw a party all about state pride. Held in August, past festivals have included a 1,000 Burger Feed (free burgers until they run out) and free ice cream sundaes topped with chokecherry syrup. The family-friendly, two-day festival held in Williston includes activities, entertainment and lots of food vendors. In addition, you may want to pick up at least one jar each of chokecherry jam, chokecherry syrup and chokecherry jelly.
Ohio Sauerkraut Festival
The biting taste of sauerkraut can elevate even the most ordinary foods. If you're already a fan, you're not alone –more than 350,000 visitors turn out each year for the Annual Ohio Sauerkraut Festival on the second full weekend of October. For more than 50 years, the Waynesville-based event has offered festival-goers a chance to dine on creative dishes like sauerkraut donuts and fudge. Attendees can even try a German "sundae" made with mashed potatoes instead of ice cream and topped with sauerkraut, cheese, sour cream and an olive. But, of course, you'll also find more traditional dishes too, like cabbage rolls and hot dogs brimming with sauerkraut.
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Visiting Prague, OK, will give you a taste – quite literally – of what it's like to visit the Czech Republic's capital city. During the Kolache Festival held on the first Saturday in May, the community honors its Czech heritage with celebrations and foods that showcase people of Bohemian ancestry. Visitors will have the opportunity to sample several varieties of Czech kolache – a palm-sized pastry made of sweet, yeast dough surrounding fillings like fruit, poppy seeds and cheese. Guests will also enjoy polka dances as part of this whimsical, family-friendly festival that's been going on for 60-plus years.
Scandinavian Midsummer Festival
Known for deep fjords, wooden churches and chilly winters, Scandinavia refers to Denmark, Norway and Sweden. But you don't have to travel across the Atlantic to enjoy all the delicious dishes these countries have to offer. In the summer, the annual Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in Astoria gives attendees the chance to enjoy delicious food amidst a background of Scandinavian music, dance and theatrical entertainment. Also, be sure to check out various handmade crafts and artisan goods available while you're at the festival.
Taming of the Brew
In addition to what we think is one of the most clever festival names out there, the Taming of the Brew gives visitors access to some of the best microbreweries and restaurants in the state of Pennsylvania. So sip a beloved favorite or sample something brand new as you enjoy live musical performances, photo booths and auctions in Bloomsburg. You can even attend a brew talk to learn about upcoming trends from a panel of beer aficionados. And who knows? You might just walk away with a new favorite brew or two.
Warren Quahog Festival
Quahogs are small, hard clams that represent one of the most important aquatic exports of Rhode Island. More than 22 million of the little bivalves were harvested from Narragansett Bay in 2018. And the city of Warren celebrates this bounty at the free Warren Quahog Festival held in conjunction with the city's art festival during the third full weekend in July each year. The local festival draws in thousands every year for delicious clam dishes, live entertainment, a vendor fair and more.
Summerville Sweet Tea Festival
Downtown Summerville brews up the Summerville Sweet Tea Festival every summer. Browse Summerville's quaint historic downtown shops and boutiques and enjoy the diverse musicians performing at the festival. Grab a souvenir cup and celebrate the South with arts and crafts, antiques, spirits and, of course, plenty of sweet tea.
Sioux Empire on Tap
Sioux Falls, SD
Get ready for good times and good beers at Sioux Empire on Tap. Featuring more than 100 craft beers and more samples than you can count, this festival is a must for all brew enthusiasts out there. In addition, attendees are encouraged to don pretzel necklaces, take advantage of the multitude of food and beer vendors, and enjoy live music sets from local bands. This Sioux Falls festival is one unforgettable party that you don't want to miss.
Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue
Who's ready for some barbecue? At the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue, more than 100 championship barbecue teams from around the globe vie for top awards and prizes. Barbecue is serious business at this event, where you can sample some of the best-grilled meats in the world. The seven competitive categories include Cook's Choice, Chicken, Beef Brisket, Pork Shoulder, Pork Ribs, Jack Daniel's Sauce and Dessert. During this one-day fall festival in Lynchburg, TN, over 3,900 pounds of meat are grilled up and served to judges and lucky attendees.
Pfall Chili Pfest
Head to Pflugerville for the annual Pfall Chili Pfest in October. In addition to participating in Pflugerville's Chili Cook-Off and Tasting, attendees can check out the live music, enter the jalapeño- and pickle-eating contests for cash prizes, grab a bite to eat at the food trucks, browse the arts and crafts vendors, and much more at this pfantastic festival — pun intended!
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Savor the Summit
Park City, UT
Hailed as Park City's largest outdoor dinner party, Savor the Summit offers a tasty culinary event hosted by all the city's best restaurants. Attendees will enjoy unique beverages, delicious foods and live music served in the middle of Main Street. There is no admission fee, but diners must make reservations with the restaurant of their choice. Each restaurant offers a special menu for the festival with different pricing and bar options.
Vermont Cheesemakers Festival
Did you know that Vermont has the most cheesemakers per capita compared to every other state in the country? That's why people come together every autumn on Shelburne Farms for the Annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. There's no chance of going hungry at this nationally acclaimed festival, which features more than 40 cheesemakers from around the state and 100 different food and beverage vendors. Your festival admission ticket includes a bag and wine glass, offsite parking and a shuttle ride to and from the event.
Virginia Beach Chocolate Festival
Virginia Beach, VA
Enjoy a view of the waves while sampling melt-in-your-mouth sweets at the Virginia Beach Chocolate Festival in November. This two-day party in Virginia Beach is dedicated to candies and desserts, including plenty of treats and demonstrations on making your own chocolate creations. Go ahead and down one truffle after another or take your pick of frosted cupcakes made with dark, milk and white chocolate. For something sweet and spicy, indulge in a chili dipped in – you guessed it – chocolate!
National Lentil Festival
There are all kinds of food festivals across the country, but who's ever heard about one dedicated to lentils? The people of Pullman, that's who! This city is tucked along the eastern border of Washington and northern Idaho, famous for growing approximately a quarter of the lentils in the United States. If that isn't worth celebrating, we don't know what is.
Vegetarians and meat lovers alike can find something delicious and entertaining to enjoy at the National Lentil Festival. Previous winners of the lentil cook-off competition have crafted everything from gnocchi to chorizo dishes. And everyone can participate in festival activities like the 5K, golf tournament, cooking demonstrations and so much more.
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West Virginia Hot Dog Festival
If you've never been to a festival dedicated exclusively to hot dogs, now is your chance. The West Virginia Hot Dog Festival is a unique event that celebrates all the restaurants in Huntington that feature hot dogs on the menu. The festival includes contests and competitions, live music and demonstrations, a local farmer's market, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sample all kinds of hot dogs in one fell swoop. Can it get any better than that?
The German pork sausage known as bratwurst is about as sacred a food as you will find in Wisconsin, and the free Brat Days festival in early August celebrates the cheeseheads' favorite cased meat. Sure, you can get one boiled in beer and grilled up, but you can also try one on pizza, in an egg roll, in a taco and pretty much any way you never imagined you might enjoy it. This homage to brats also includes a massive parade, live music, a carnival, a 5K Brat Trot, petting zoo and more, all held in the cozy town of Sheboygan.
Laramie Jubilee Days
Jubilee Days began 80 years ago to celebrate the anniversary of Wyoming's statehood on July 10th. Today, this massive, food-focused festival is a weeklong event featuring all the delicious eats you'd expect from the Cowboy State. Check out the chili cook-off, challenge your taste buds at the jalapeño-eating contest, wake up early for the pancake breakfast or enjoy a sip at the Brew Fest. Once you've had your fill, you can burn off a few calories at the downtown street dances in Laramie. The event also features a rodeo, carnival and parade.
This list is composed of content that first appeared on our sister site, FarmFlavor.com.