Below is a list of the fun, unique food festivals and eating opportunities taking place in August 2023. It’s part of The Takeout’s 2023 Eats Calendar, a rundown of the year’s best events. To return to the calendar and check out other months, click here.
Maine Lobster Festival
Lobster has had quite a journey in American cuisine, beginning as the “poor man’s protein” fed to prisoners and eventually earning its reputation as the luxurious delicacy we enjoy today. The Maine Lobster Festival, August 2-6, is a five-day ode to the crustacean in all its forms, bringing tens of thousands of people to Rockland, Maine, including international visitors who come just for the occasion. Along with a parade, cook-off, and the Maine Sea Goddess coronation, the fest holds an annual “crate race” in which contestants try to cross a string of floating lobster crates without falling into the water. Notably, the massive festival is run completely by volunteers, which means everyone comes together for the sake of community, and of course, all the lobster they can handle.
Head to the north side of The Takeout’s hometown of Chicago and you’ll find an oversized punch bowl’s worth of fun at the Sangria Festival, happening this year August 19-20. In the summer heat, the festival provides multiple samples of refreshing sangria creations from various vendors. There are also paint and sip opportunities to create art while you enjoy your beverages, and the food is a showcase of Chicago’s Latin American cuisine.
Pittston Tomato Festival
This lively Tomato Festival is taking place August 17-20 in Pittston, Pennsylvania, the “quality tomato capital of the world,” and its schedule includes some charmingly antiquated activities. In 2022, the festival (which saw an estimated 75,000 attendees!) featured a 5K run, a parade, rides, and live entertainment—the website also takes care to note that bingo is part of the proceedings. To showcase the produce of honor, ribbons are awarded to the largest, smallest, ugliest, and most perfect tomatoes submitted by growers. There’s also a Little Miss and Little Mister Tomato pageant, in which children age 2-6 can compete for the title. “The children are asked to wear something they would wear to a day at the Tomato Festival,” the website notes. Do you have your outfit ready?
The Kool-Aid Days Festival is held, appropriately enough, in the dog days of summer, from August 18-20. This year’s theme is “25 Flavors For 25 Years,” though the brand itself has been around for nearly a century. The festival is always held in the city where the product was invented: Hastings, Nebraska. There’s a little bit of everything on the schedule: a fun run, a Kool-Aid drinking contest, a parade, a frisbee golf tournament, fireworks, boat races, and even a farmer’s market offering local goods and produce. Will there be a brick wall for the Kool-Aid Man to bust through and kick off the festivities? Even if there isn’t, it’s sure to be a pretty fantastic time.
National Lentil Festival
Pullman, Washington, is the lentil capital of the United States, and the city is celebrating the legume at the National Lentil Festival on August 19 this year. A giant cauldron of chili will be served to visitors for free, a nice demonstration of Pullman’s genuine love for lentils. The event has been held since 1989 and places a unique focus on the local community and volunteers; there’s even a little Walk of Fame highlighting notable honorees. Nearby breweries and cider makers will also be on site serving their beverages, a cook-off will showcase the versatility of lentils, and the Lentil Land kids area will continue to have a great name. Perhaps most importantly, there appears to be a costumed lentil mascot in attendance.