Below is a list of the fun, unique food festivals and eating opportunities taking place in September 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.
Hatch Chile Fest
Hatch chiles are a variety of pepper grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico. That’s more than enough reason to throw a big public get-together, wouldn’t you say? These unique green peppers are often fire roasted, which imparts a signature smoky flavor that makes them irresistible. The Hatch Chile Festival (September 1-3) will feature a carnival, parade, music, and of course, plenty of chiles. (They range in heat level, so don’t let a fear of spicy food keep you from attending.)
Taste of Hamburger
You didn’t think we’d leave a burger fest off this list, did you? The Taste of Hamburger festival, which will take place on September 2 in Hamburg, Pennsylvania (get it?), features a whopping 40 hamburger stands, four stages of musical entertainment, crafts, contests, and local art. But the best part of this fest might just be its extensive schedule of competitions: In 2022, there was a Best Burger Award, a costume contest, a (wooden) cow decorating contest, a mooing contest, and even a race in which contestants had to eat two burgers and run two miles. Being a spectator at every last one of these events is our new mission in life.
National Buffalo Wing Festival
Labor Day weekend in Buffalo, New York, you can celebrate the food most synonymous with the city at the National Buffalo Wing Festival (Sept. 2-3). This event has the distinction of being one of two different festivals inspired by Bill Murray. The annual Groundhog Days festival in Woodstock, Illinois showcases the actual city from the 1993 Murray vehicle Groundhog Day, and the National Buffalo Wing Festival was inspired by the 2001 animated film Osmosis Jones, in which Bill Murray’s character heads to Buffalo, New York to attend a chicken wing festival. Since that festival didn’t actually exist at the time of the film’s release, Buffalo natives decided to make it happen. More than two decades and a million attendees later, this festival is a testament to the power of good food and good comedy.
Bourbon and Beyond
The Bourbon and Beyond Festival is described as “the perfect blend of bourbon, food, and music,” and it sounds like the best of what Kentucky has to offer. From September 14-17 in Louisville, you’ll find a major party going on, and with a list of sponsors that includes Kroger, Jack Daniels, Budweiser, and Cutwater Spirits, there will be no shortage of beverages on hand to enjoy.
Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival
If you’re a spice lover, how about heading to a festival that has its own jalapeño eating contest? The Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival, held from September 22-24 in Pueblo, Colorado, offers a “chili and salsa showdown,” a farmer’s market with a chile roasting, and a hot air balloon launch. By the way, the event’s namesake pueblo chile, registering between 5,000–20,000 Scoville Heat Units, is the pièce de résistance in the Pueblo Slopper, a burger so doused in green chili that it’s served in a bowl.
Beignet Fest is held annually not only to celebrate the fritter synonymous with New Orleans, but also to raise money for programs that benefit children with autism and developmental disabilities around the city. The festival, established in 2016, offers a variety of beignet options, from sweet to savory to cheesy. In 2022, the event included live music performances, a kids village, an artist market, and a beer garden. Take it from us: Don’t wear anything you don’t want to spill powdered sugar on.
The American Royal World Series of Barbecue
If you’re a serious fan of barbecue, then you already know that the American Royal World Series of Barbecue is the world’s biggest competition of its kind. Running September 27-October 1, the contest is part of the American Royal, an eight-week festival dedicated to rodeos, livestock shows, agriculture, and food; in the latter category, expect brisket, pork ribs, pork shoulder, chicken, sausage, side dishes, and dessert. There’s not a lot of other events that can top the American Royal, and since it’s the biggest, its bragging rights are the biggest, too. As a nonprofit, the organization donates over $1 million per year to support agricultural programs and youth scholarships.