It’s ‘Eat Up’ Season

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Festivals across Upstate New York feature all sorts of food — from chicken wings at the National Buffalo Wing Festival, to sauerkraut at Phelps Sauerkraut Festival in Phelps… and that’s just the beginning!

In addition to the great weather, summer brings a bevy of food-based events. Taste the flavors of the season at these food fests across the state. Each features the expected vendors, local food and live entertainment. Some include a midway or special events like a parade or fireworks, and they all focus on a notable food raised locally. Dig in!

Finger Lakes Wine Festival
Watkins Glen
It offers tastings of 90-plus wines, seminars, cooking demonstrations, toga contest, live music, fireworks, and, for those who plan to stay the weekend, on-site camping. July 7-10.

Cheddar Cheese Festival
Festival allows you to browse artisan booths, sample wine and cheese and explore the kids’ zone. July 9. 

Lyons Peppermint Days
It commemorates when Lyons produced more peppermint than anywhere in the world. Visit the nearby H.G. Hotchkiss Essential Oil Museum, which chronicles Lyons’ minty history. See who will be crowned Baby Mint and stay late enough for the fireworks show—one of the best in the region. July 15-17.

It is not just about burgers, but numerous kinds of foods, plus food trucks. Bring along the children for activities and inflatables. Explore crafts, the car show and the beer tent. July 16.

Phelps Sauerkraut Festival
It celebrates everything sauerkraut and cabbage. Phelps was once lauded as the sauerkraut capital of the world. See who will be crowned the Sauerkraut Festival Prince and Princess. Aug. 4-7.

Eden Corn Festival
It highlights one of the region’s top crops and includes the Agricultural and Community Showcase, and plenty of corn on the cob. Aug. 4-7.

Avon Rotary Corn Festival
Festival includes an annual corn eating contest. Aug. 13.

The Glorious Garlic Festival
It had been held in Penn Yan at Fox Run Vineyard but this year will be at the Geneva Lakefront. The event includes wine tasting, cooking demonstration and the chance to sample and purchase freshly harvested garlic of several varieties. Aug. 6-7. 

National Buffalo Wing Festival
Inspired by a Bill Murray character attending the fictitious National Buffalo Wing Festival in the film “Osmosis Jones,” the real event was founded by local Drew Cerza in 2002 to promote Buffalo. Attendees flock from each U.S. state and 50 countries for eating wings, cooking and eating competitions and bobbing for wings from a kiddie pool of bleu cheese dressing—no hands allowed. Sept. 3-4.  

Niagara County Peach Festival
Enjoy the midway, peach treats and see who is crowned the Peach Queen. Sept. 8-11.

Central New York TomatoFest
It raises money for local food pantries and offers eventgoers live tomato-based goods like salsa and the annual Bloody Mary Bar. Sept. 10. 

Cream Cheese Festival
It includes many children’s activities along with the recipe contest and games. Grab a bagel and head over. Sept. 17.

Naples Grape Festival
It showcases area winemakers, local foods and of course, everything grape, including the grape pie baking contest. Sept. 24-25. 

Syracuse Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival
The festival brings the best of local foods and brews, along with national brands to the New York State Fairgrounds. Oct. 1.

Lafayette Apple Festival
It celebrates the apple harvest with apple-themed foods along with food competitions, midway rides, pony rides, a petting zoo, juried craft show and more. Oct. 8-9.


Check the venue’s social media page in advance for event guidelines. Bring along cash for purchases, as some food festivals do not accept cards or app-based payments, and totes to bring home local purchases. 

Need a second helping? Attend your county fair and other local events and the State Fair. These feature local and specialty foods to savor.