Department of Tourism
Discover Your Own Backyard: Kentucky's Spring Food Festivals
From Bar-B-Q to burgoo, Kentucky is known for tasty food traditions that please the palates of residents and visitors alike. Add to the mix pleasant settings and the warmth of Kentucky’s late spring, and you have the makings of one of the commonwealth’s most popular pastimes – the outdoor food festival. Several of these events take place in May, providing a perfect excuse to get out of the house, travel a ways and enjoy some tummy-tempting fare.
International Bar-B-Q Festival in Owensboro, May 9-10
While many cities lay claim to prowess in the culinary art of Bar-B-Q, each May all eyes turn to Owensboro for the International Bar-B-Q Festival. The competition is fierce and the flavors rich as local cooking teams produce the best that their secret recipes have to offer. There are cash prizes, but the cooks strive hardest to win the Governor’s Cup, the prize awarded to the best overall Bar-B-Q cooking team. Even backyard grill masters get lean and mean during The Classic Cook-Off competition, preparing delectable treats of pork, chicken, turkey and beef to share with festival goers.
The International Bar-B-Q Festival, which attracts more than 50,000 festival goers each year, also serves up non-stop entertainment that has something to please all ages. With downtown streets closed to vehicle traffic, three main stages provide venues for performers featuring a variety of music and dancing that highlight local, regional and national talent.
Carnival rides, face painting, pie- and mutton eating contests and the festival’s Family Pavilion provide fun for the entire family. Children and young adults can strut their stuff in one of the many scheduled festival pageants.
Dive right into the festival experience as a spectator or participant in the horseshoe tournament, golf challenge, burgoo relay and keg toss. Work up an appetite, test your speed and endurance or stretch your legs by competing in the annual 5K Run/Walk.
If there is any spare time, try browsing and shopping festival style. You can spend hours viewing over 100 booths filled with handmade arts and crafts and a selection of festival souvenirs. The classic car show offers a chance for festival attendees to see many vintage automobiles.
For more information call 270-926-6938 or email email@example.com.
Strawberry Festival in Beaver Dam, May 23-26
Another popular May food event in Kentucky is the Strawberry Festival in Beaver Dam. Held each year during Memorial Day weekend (May 23-26 this year), the festival’s focus is cuisine based on strawberries, and a high point is the Strawberry Cook-Off.
The festivities include a wide range of fun activities, including beauty pageants, a car show, tractor show, motorcycle show, 5k run, arts and crafts, vendors, hot dog eating contest, carnival rides, Native American cooking, gospel singing, quilt show, pet show, a parade and more.
For more information, call 270-274-4096 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wine and Cheese Tasting Festival in Bardstown, May 31
For the wine novice and enthusiast alike, another Kentucky festival in May is bound to be of interest. The Bardstown Rotary Club, in conjunction with the American Heart Association, will hold its 33rd annual wine and cheese tasting festival May 31 from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. Admission is $25 in advance or $30 at the door.
Considered one of the premier wine tastings of Kentucky and a top social event of the central Kentucky season, the tasting features quality wines amid the beautiful lawn of Bardstown’s historic Spalding Hall. The wine and cheese tasting showcases the award-winning wines of Kentucky as well as prize wines from around the world.
For more information, call 502-348-4877 or 800-638-4877 or email email@example.com.
Poke Sallet Festival in Harlan County, June 4-8
Harlan County’s Poke Sallet Festival, named after a plant native to the area, is staged during the first week in June. If you ever see “greens” on a soul food menu, this is what they’re talking about. "Sallet" is an old English term for "cooked greens," as opposed to "salad," uncooked greens. This festival is a unique gathering that brings together young and old for five days of fun activities including a golf tournament, forest hike, craft contest, music in the park, pet show, the Miss Harlan County Homecoming pageant and even a variety show.
For more information, contact Joe Grieshop or Dan Mosley at 606-573-2600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This “Discover Your Own Back Yard” travel column is produced twice monthly by the Department of Tourism to help promote Kentucky events and travel destinations. For more information about these and other tourism opportunities, visit www.kentuckytourism.com
The Kentucky Department of Tourism, an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, exists to promote The Commonwealth as a travel destination, generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky’s economy.