We are here in the heart of summer. Amidst the cookouts and grilling and drinking on your own, sometimes you just wanna show up somewhere and have everything laid out in front of you. Enter the food and drink festival. Think “Taste of…” Yeah. Navigating these festivals can be a bit of a hassle. When there’s so much to eat and drink, it becomes a genuine issue choosing just a few things to indulge in. We’re here with a guide to help you sort through it all.

First and foremost, you should know that food festivals are excellent outlets for lots of local food and drink. Small venues that can’t afford big-shot advertising often have no trouble fronting the low booth costs that most festivals offer. But with all the big flashy flags and bling, it can be hard to find the local spots behind some of the bigger brands. Walk the entire festival first and see what’s up for grabs before making your choices. If you’re really into some recon, make a note of the booths with the longest lines. That many people can’t be wrong. Or at the very least, they gotta be onto something. This policy works well for both food and drink options.

Secondly, when at a food and/or drink festival, go with the regional cuisine. Regional cuisine is usually determined by what ingredients are in strong supply. For example, here in Colorado, Green Chile is a major influence in most “authentic” dishes. While that factor isn’t as important in this modern age of refrigerated trucks, those ingredients historically have inspired many dishes that have evolved into many others. Know what foods are popular in the region and make sure to sample at least a few to expand your palate. You might even find something to expand your menu at home. Again, this rule applies to both food and drink. Or whatever the cool kids are calling alcohol now.

Last but not least, make sure to keep yourself balanced. Trying new foods, while super flavorful, might lead to some…unexpected…gastrointestinal unpleasantries. If you’re going to try new foods, maybe stick to beverages you’re familiar with, and vice versa. Don’t bombard your system with lots of new things to sort out. This is particularly important if you’re trying some new spicy flavors. Remember, most of these festivals will only have portable restrooms on hand. I’ll just leave that there.

What’s important about these festivals is to go have some fun. Whatever that means to you, go out there and grab it. Remember to be safe, as these festivals in the summer often mean lots of sun and lots of heat. So grab some water, grab some friends, and get out there to find something new. Not sure where to start? Check out foodreference.com for an extensive list by state and city to get yourself on the right path.  

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