50 states of festival foods 

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Explore the festival food favored by folks in different U.S. regions, plus a notable food festival and a common or unique food from each state.

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PACIFIC: The Pacific coastal and island states favor a combination of seafood and Latin food thanks to California’s Latin American heritage. Outlier: Oregon with the vegan-friendly Hemp Burger. Oh, Portland.

Alaska: Kodiak Crab Festival; Deep-fried Halibut
California: Latin Food Fest; Wine Slushie
Hawaii: Waikiki Spam Jam; Panko-Crusted Ahi Tuna Plate
Oregon: Feast Portland; Hemp Burger
Washington: Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival; Scones

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ROCKY MOUNTAINS: Lots of meat and potatoes, including meat-stuffed potatoes, and deep-fried meat and potatoes. Outlier: Colorado loves its chiles and beans.

Colorado: Chile y Frijoles Fest; Deep-fried Pueblo Chiles
Idaho: Idaho Spud Day; Ice Cream Potato (only looks like a baked potato)
Montana: Huckleberry Festival; The Viking (deep-fried beef and egg)
Nevada: Springs Preserve Ice Cream Festival; Basque Fries (deep-fried lamb testicles)
Utah: Savor the Summit; French Fry-Stuffed Burger
Wyoming: Jackson Hole Food & Wine; Rotary Club Hamburger

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SOUTHWEST: The Indigenous influence is savored with fry bread, tacos, and chiles. Outlier: Texas, with its Injectable Great Balls of BBQ. (Inject the brisket balls with BBQ sauce, not the whole dish via IV drip).

Arizona: Arizona Taco Festival; Fry Bread
New Mexico: Hatch Chili Festival; Green Chili Navajo Taco
Oklahoma: Tabouleh Fest; Indian Taco
Texas: Terlingua International Chili Championship; Injectable Great Balls of BBQ

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MIDWEST: Again with the meat, potatoes, and grains — this is Great Plains territory after all. Lots of influence from German and Scandinavian immigrants. Outlier: You know Wisconsin is all about that cheese.

Illinois: Taste of Chicago; Corn Dogs, allegedly invented at a fair in Chicago
Indiana: Valparaiso Popcorn Festival; Roasted Corn on the Cob
Iowa: Wurst Festival; Pork Chop on a Stick
Kansas: National Festival of Breads; Bierocks (baked meat pie)
Michigan: National Cherry Festival; Chocolate Covered Cherry Scone
Minnesota: Wild Rice Festival; Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Missouri: Rock'n Ribs BBQ Festival; Black Walnut Topped Salad
Nebraska: Applejack Festival; Reuben Burger
North Dakota: Norsk Høstfest; Poutine
Ohio: Circleville Pumpkin Show; Deep Fried Buckeyes
South Dakota: Schmeckfest; Smoked Roast Beef Sandwich
Wisconsin: Cheese Days; Original Cream Puffs

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NORTHEAST: Predictably, New England’s seafood really takes the crab cake here. It’s Chowder-This and Lobster-Roll-That. Outliers: Vermont’s maple everything and New York’s obsession with Buffalo sauce.

Connecticut: Milford Oyster Festival; Lime Rickey Mocktail
Maine: Maine Lobster Festival; Blueberry Crepe
Massachusetts: Wellfleet OysterFest; Pumpkin Whoopie Pie
New Hampshire: Chowder Festival; Lobster Roll
New Jersey: Belmar Seafood Festival; Meatball & Mozzarella Bread Cone
New York: Smorgasburg; Buffalo Wings
Pennsylvania: Kennett Square Mushroom Festival; Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cake
Rhode Island: Great Chowder Cook Off; Seafood Chowder
Vermont: Vermont Maple Festival; Maple Creamee

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SOUTHEAST: The south is a mixed bag of BBQ’d meat, savory shrimp and crawfish, and deep-fried sweet treats. Outlier: Appropriately, the nation’s capital is a melting pot of food from everywhere at Washington, D.C.’s Around The World Cultural Food Festival.

Alabama: National Peanut Festival; Tamales
Arkansas: Picklefest; Peanut Patties
Delaware: Cheesetoberfest; Scrapple Sandwich
Florida: Key Lime Festival; Strawberry Lemonade Sweetcake Sundae
Georgia: Georgia Peach Festival; Black-Eyed Peas
Kentucky: World Chicken Festival; BBQ Porkchop Sandwich
Louisiana: Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival; Bayou Balls
Maryland: Crab, Wine & Beer Festival; Crabby Patty
Mississippi: World Catfish Festival; Biscuits
North Carolina: Lexington BBQ Festival; Cheerwine Funnel Cake
South Carolina: World Grits Festival; Shrimp n’ Grits Sundae
Tennessee: National Cornbread Festival; Deep Fried GooGoo Cluster
Virginia: Fire, Flour, and Fork Festival; Butt Fries (Pork Butt)
Washington, D.C.: Around the World Cultural Food Festival
West Virginia: Preston County Buckwheat Festival; Country Ham Sandwich

Rebecca Rafferty is CITY's life editor. She can be reached at [email protected].

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