RICHMOND, Va.(January 9, 2013) - Virginia takes a love of food to a new level with specialty food festivals through the state. Hundreds of special festivals and events are hosted each year that celebrate the best local flavors of Virginia. Below is a sampling of some of Virginia's most popular and tasty annual food festivals of 2013, with many more found on www.Virginia.org.
Restaurant Weeks - Statewide, January
Various cities in Virginia offer up special prix fixe menus and multi-course meals at hundreds of participating Virginia restaurants throughout the month of January. Check www.Virginia.org for more information on participating cities and dates.
Highland Maple Festival - Monterey, March 9 - 10 & 16 - 17, 2013
The Highland Maple Festival celebrates the Highland County tradition of maple syrup-making. Designated a "Local Legacy" by The Library of Congress, this festival of more than 50 years, attracts upwards of 50,000 visitors. Sugar camp tours provide a unique and educational glimpse of a rapidly vanishing way of rural American life.
Community School Strawberry Festival - Roanoke, May 3-4, 2013
Some 30,000 people flock to downtown Roanoke each year to celebrate the bounty of strawberries. More than 12,000 strawberry shortcakes are served along with strawberry sundaes, slushies' and strawberries dipped in chocolate. The 2013 event will mark the festival's 32nd anniversary.
Eastern Shore Seafood Festival - Chincoteague, May 4, 2013
The Eastern Shore Annual Seafood Festival is an extravaganza that is a favorite of families with hearty appetites. The Chincoteague Seafood Festival will provide a venue to sample the best-of-the-best local seafood indulging offerings and signature dishes from Chincoteague restaurants as well as old and new Eastern Shore favorites prepared by famous festival cooks, volunteers and professionals.
Virginia State Championship Chili Cook-off - Roanoke, May 4, 2013
Roanoke's annual cook-off brings together some of the best chili cooks from across the nation. Chili and salsa tastings, live entertainment, beer garden, jalapeño eating contest, children's area.
Delaplane Strawberry Festival - Delaplane, May 25-26, 2013
In the rustic beauty, Sky Meadow State Park High, up in one of Virginia's most scenic state parks, the Delaplane Strawberry Festival maintains a country fair feel with rows of vendors, plenty of food, live music and strawberries as far as the eye can see.
Hanover Tomato Festival - Richmond, July 13, 2013
A vein of soil running through Hanover County north of Richmond produces some of America's most delicious tomatoes. This annual festival celebrates the Hanover Tomato with plenty of food, music and entertainment. Local cooks compete for best tomato recipes.
Pork, Peanut and Pine Festival - Surry, July 20-21, 2013
Surry County Chippokes Plantation State Park on the banks of the James River is the setting for a celebration of Virginia indigenous foods and agriculture. More than 200 artisans and crafters are present.
Carytown Watermelon Festival - Richmond, August 11, 2013
Back for its 30th year, this festival in Richmond's trendy shopping and dining area draws more than 100,000 people annually. Ten blocks of food, arts and crafts and live music stages. More than 2,500 watermelons are consumed.
Virginia's Peach Festival - Stuart, August 16 - 17, 2013
Stuart Virginia's peaches are hardly overshadowed by its more famous apple industry at this annual event. Join the fun for lots of peaches in various forms, live music, games and children's activities.
Virginia Peanut Festival - Emporia, September 26 - 29, 2013
Emporia Peanuts have been one of Virginia's major crops since Colonial times. The delectable nut is celebrated here annually with a parade, farm tour, petting zoo and a cook-off of peanut dishes.
Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival - Chincoteague, October 12, 2013
Savor these little Virginia delicacies fresh out of the Chesapeake Bay with all-you-can-eat oysters (steamed, fried, fritters, raw) clam chowder, steamed crabs, cole slaw, potato salad and hush puppies.
Taste of Culpeper - a wine, food, and arts festival - Culpeper, October 13, 2013
Experience the very best in Virginia wines, microbreweries, and local cuisine and discover treasures for the home and the table from local artisans and crafters at Culpeper Renaissance's eighth annual Taste of Culpeper festival. The festival will take place in historic downtown Culpeper, a recent 2012 winner of the "Great American Main Street Award."
A Taste of Brunswick Festival - Alberta, October 12, 2013
According to legend, Brunswick Stew was invented in Virginia in the 1830s as a concoction of squirrel, onions and stale bread. In today's version chicken has replaced squirrel and the stew is rounded out with corn, tomatoes, butterbeans and other vegetables. Each year in Alberta some 20 stewmasters vie for top honors - to the delight of thousands.
Urbanna Oyster Festival - Urbanna, November 1-2, 2013
Join in The Official Oyster Festival of the Commonwealth! Food - Arts & Crafts - Fireman's Parade - Oyster Festival Parade - Waterfront educational activities - Entertainment - Oyster Festival Queen & Little Miss Spat - Oyster Shucking Contest.
Third Annual Bluegrass, Barbecue & Brew Festival - Brookneal, November 2, 2013
Enjoy Bluegrass, barbecue and brews at Patrick Henry's Red Hill. The festival is about embracing the flavors and sounds of southern Virginia at the home of Virginia's passionate patriot and fiery fiddler!
Foods and Feasts of Colonial Virginia - Jamestown and Yorktown, November 28-30, 2013
Learn how food was gathered, preserved and prepared by Virginia's English colonists and Powhatan Indians. Learn about typical soldier's fare during the American Revolution and trace the bounty of a 1780s farm from field to kitchen.
Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Go to www.Virginia.org or call 1-800-VISITVA to request a free copy of the 2013 Virginia is for Lovers travel guide. Stay connected with Virginia on Facebook atwww.Facebook.com/VirginiaisforLovers or on Twitter at @VisitVirginia.
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