This time of year is ideal for getting outside, traveling, and enjoying good food! These festivals from across the United States offer everything you could want—delicious dishes, concerts, shopping, and entertainment. Check out the following events, and pencil them on your calendar this season.
Whiting, a town on Lake Michigan that’s just thirty minutes from downtown Chicago, fills up with approximately 300,000 visitors each year for its Pierogi Fest, a celebration of Eastern European food and culture. Watch the wacky polka parade, visit the wine and beer gardens, enjoy Polish music and polka dancing, fill your plate with pierogi, Polish pastries, and other delicacies, and enjoy fun for all ages.
Happy Harry’s RibFest
Ribs, ribs, and more ribs—plus some good music—is what Happy Harry’s RibFest is all about. Local and international chefs from places like Australia, Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia will tempt your palate in this event that’s been going strong for more than twenty-five years. Gate admission and parking are $5 each.
National Cherry Festival
Traverse City, MI
Life is sweet at the National Cherry Festival in the cherry capital of the world. Celebrate everything cherry with more than 100 events, including a farmers market, pit-spitting and pie-eating contests, amusement rides, food vendors, a beer tent, and fireworks. Tickets can be purchased separately to see live performances from Boyz II Men and ZZ Top, and a Flight Deck Air Show featuring the US Navy Blue Angels. The majority of the festival’s events are free.
Maine Lobster Festival
If succulent fresh lobster in pools of butter sounds tasty to you, head to Maine for the 75th annual Maine Lobster Festival. King Neptune and the Maine Sea Goddess will open the festival, and admission is free. This fest offers a bounty of lobster delicacies, including rolls, mac and cheese, bisque, and more. There will be a parade, arts and crafts, entertainment, vendors, a marine experience tent where kids can touch and learn about marine life, a Steins and Vines tasting event, plus a kids’ fun run, 5K, and 10K. A free shuttle will be running throughout the festival.
Milford Oyster Festival
The 48th annual Milford Oyster Festival is free to enter and will have about 30,000 fresh oysters from Milford waters to serve to festival goers. Watch shells fly in the fastest oyster shucker in the world contest, and take in musical entertainment, a craft fair, a kayak race, and an oyster-eating competition. You can also learn more about these tasty mollusks from oyster experts.
Music City Hot Chicken Festival
Celebrate Independence Day with a fire truck parade and live music at the Music City Hot Chicken Festival, a free celebration in Nashville’s East Park. Enjoy hot chicken (a uniquely Nashville dish), cold brews, and other foods from some of the city’s best eateries, and watch teams compete in the amateur cooking competition. All proceeds from the festival benefit the Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms.
King of the County BBQ Challenge & Music Festival
Enjoy all kinds of barbecue plus a variety of other cuisines, watch up to forty local teams compete in the festival’s barbecue cook-off, listen to local bands, and shop the wares of craft and other vendors. There will be lots of fun for kids, too, including bounce houses, balloons, face painting, and more.
Taste of Little Italy
San Diego, CA
Eat your way through forty-eight square blocks of delicious Italian food at the Taste of Little Italy festival, and delight in some of the best tastes and sips San Diego has to offer. Commemorate your travels with a “taste passport,” and listen to live music underneath the sparkling city lights. This event will highlight a different selection of restaurants each night, so consider coming to the festival both evenings.
Summer cooking is all about fresh produce, bright colors, and delicious flavors—all things the recipes below have in spades! Mix up your menu this month with a healthier take on fries and a simple and herbaceous pasta salad.
Delicata squash serves as the perfect potato replacement in fries. They crisp up nicely in the oven and have an extra kick of flavor thanks to the garlicky dip.
Pasta salad is a summer staple, especially at picnics. The orzo in this recipe adds great texture and nuttiness, while the fresh herbs and lemon zest brighten everything up.
Reprinted with permission from 5-Ingredient Vegan Cooking by Kate Friedman, Page Street Publishing Co. 2021. Photo credit: Kate Friedman
recipe by kate friedman
photos by kate friedman
Move over potatoes, there’s a new fry in town! These delicata squash fries are a tasty twist on one of America’s food darlings. Baking the squash instead of frying makes it much healthier. Salting the squash before roasting it draws out the moisture, allowing the fries to crisp up in the oven. These squash fries are wonderful on their own—especially if you add plenty of pepper (yes, I am a pepper-your-fries person)—but they’re especially good paired with lemon-garlic aioli.
recipe by kate friedman
photos by kate friedman
This hearty vegan salad is the perfect warm weather treat! It’s best served cold with some fresh herbs. I chose fresh basil for this recipe, but don’t be afraid to toss in other types if your local farmers’ market has other herbs you like. In fact, this salad is a great way to utilize your haul from a Saturday morning veggie-stand binge. The inclusion of both orzo pasta and chickpeas gives this salad a robustness, while the red onion and English cucumber give it eye-appealing color. A zesty lemon juice dressing adds the final touch.
Mini-golf is one of America’s treasured summer activities. It’s suitable for all ages, and some mini-golf courses have unique themes that can transport you to a different time, place, or even dimension! One of these seven top-rated courses across the US should be on your next vacation itinerary.
Lake George, NY
Designed by Lake George local Harry Horn, this rustic eighteen-hole mini-golf course was inspired by Horn’s global travels and the unique souvenirs he brought home. Famous landmarks adorn the course, giving visitors a feeling of traveling to different countries at each hole. You can expect to see the Taj Mahal, a giant sombrero, a life-sized lobster, and a replica of the New York City subway. On select Thursday evenings, you can scout a location on the course to gaze at the town’s weekly fireworks display.
North Myrtle Beach, SC
Come see the enchanted, lush tropical isle of Molten Mountain that leads you through a journey of eighteen holes into the center of an active volcano. Every thirty minutes, the Molten Mountain Volcano erupts in a ground-shaking special-effects show you won’t want to miss. You can also play your way through the volcano village’s lakes and artifacts. This course is accessible and kid-friendly, so the whole family can join in on the fun. But be ready for trouble to strike if you opt into the exclusive Pele’s Revenge Mischief Spinner package—each player spins a wheel before their first shot at each hole and follows the instructions they land on. You might be able to move an opponent’s ball, add an obstacle, or other fun shake-ups!
Pigeon Forge, TN
Get your sugar fix at Crave Golf Club, a sweet tooth’s dream! This club has two nineteen-hole courses and is located in a quaint Tennessee town. Stop by its conveniently located snack shack and ice-cream shop if the bright, candy-themed decor is giving you a craving for your favorite sweets. After golfing, if you’re still on a sugar high, try the two thirty-minute escape room experiences!
The founders of Par-King began their miniature golf business in the 1950s with a different course called George’s Gorgeous Golfing Garden, based in Morton, Illinois. Par-King opened in 1977, and has expanded to include two eighteen-hole courses, nineteen moving obstacles, and seven water features. The courses continue to lure tourists and locals alike. Take a stroll through their life-sized castle, and try your hand at the infamous “super looper” rollercoaster hole that sends your golf ball on a wild track with turns and flips.
At Shoot for the Stars, everyone has a chance at fame! This Hollywood-themed eighteen-hole course features plenty of palm trees, parties, and paparazzi. Even though you’re in Missouri, you’ll get to see landmarks like Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Capitol Records, and the Hollywood Bowl. Along the way you’ll meet your hairdresser, limo driver, and movie director, who will get you ready to arrive at a special VIP red-carpet event at the end of the course.
Las Vegas, NV
Vegas, baby! This massive KISS-themed attraction inside the Rio Hotel boasts an impressive eighteen-hole miniature golf course filled with unique band memorabilia and glow-in-the-dark odes to rock and roll. The attraction also has arcade games, a gift shop, a KISS museum, and, in true Las Vegas fashion, a rock and roll wedding chapel. Book a time to play while the DJ is there spinning KISS classics and hosting trivia and other contests for rock stars of all ages.
San Francisco, CA
Rainy days are no problem at Urban Putt, San Francisco’s well-known indoor mini-golf course. Located inside an old Victorian-era building filled with mesmerizing industrial designs, Urban Putt is an upscale miniature golf experience complete with a full-service restaurant. You can enjoy your food and drinks on the course for a fun night out with friends and family. The high-tech fourteen-hole course has fun features, such as neon lights, a spaceship tunnel, and a whimsical skee-ball hole.
Now that the early days of summer are here, you may be planning to spend hours in your yard mowing grass, trimming shrubs, and tending to your garden. It’s hard work, but it doesn’t have to be. If your lawn mower or hedge trimmers could use an upgrade, try some of the latest trends in landscaping equipment. This gear will help you spend less time maintaining your yard and more time enjoying it.
If you need some help keeping your grass trimmed, turn to this helpful piece of technology. A robotic lawn mower does the hard work of cutting your grass while you control it through an app on your phone. You should consider the size of your yard when choosing a robotic lawn mower. These innovative mowers can handle various sizes of lawns based on their battery, software, and cutting width. The Gardena Sileno Minimo maintains lawns up to 2,700-square-feet, and the app allows you to adjust the lawn size, start time, and schedule mowing days. The Worx Landroid can trim lawns up to one-fourth of an acre, it’s designed for more frequency, and will remain within the area where you place the boundary wire. Having a well-kept lawn has never been so easy!
If you’re not ready to hand over your lawn care to a robot, upgrade your lawn mower to something a little more environmentally friendly—the EPA says five percent of all air pollution in the US comes from gas lawn mowers. Go with an electric lawn mower to reduce your carbon footprint. The Greenworks Cordless Push Mower has a lithium battery that offers up to forty-five minutes of runtime on a single charge, mulch and bag capabilities, and a dual-blade design that provides a quality cut. The Black+Decker Electric Lawn Mower is a corded option designed with comfort-grip bike handles for better maneuverability and a winged blade for improved clipping collection.
If you’re looking to tackle multiple chores with one piece of equipment, there are plenty of items to choose from. The Workpro Cordless Grass Shear and Shrubbery Trimmer can help you keep your yard in pristine condition. Start by trimming patches of grass your lawn mower missed with the grass shear, and simply switch to the hedge trimmer blade to cut back your hedges. This shear and trimmer combo has your comfort in mind with an ergonomic and nonslip grip, and the rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides up to forty minutes of yard manicuring power. The Black+Decker Lawn Mower, String Trimmer, and Edger has everything you need to get a great-looking lawn in a single piece of equipment. Designed for smaller yards, the powerdrive transmission provides great cutting power, and a pair of lithium batteries offer extended runtime.
Weeding can be a chore, but you can avoid this dreaded task by turning to the Tertill. From the inventor of the Roomba, this tiny robot works similarly to its indoor counterpart. However, instead of cleaning up dirt, the Tertill eliminates pesky weeds in gardens up to 200-square-feet. To get started, all you need to do is clear your garden of weeds. From there, the Tertill takes over, using its wheels to dig into the soil and prevent the germination of new weeds. If weeds grow, a string trimmer cuts them down. There is no need to worry about your plants, as the robot’s sensors can distinguish between the two. You don’t need to keep a watchful eye on Tertill, either. You can control it from an app on your phone, and it recharges through solar power. Now that’s some Tertill power!
Instead of dragging out a heavy, gas-powered leaf blower to clean up stray leaves or grass clippings, turn to something a little easier to handle. The Kimo Electric Leaf Blower weighs a little over two and a half pounds, and it has a variable speed trigger, giving you control over the cleanup of everything from leaves to dust. The battery offers up to twenty minutes of power, but the fast charger will have it ready to work again in an hour.
Give your green thumb some help with a soil tester such as the Sonkir MS02 Soil pH Meter or the Kensizer 3-in-1 Soil Tester. These products measure the pH level of your soil—a crucial component for proper lawn and garden growth. They also measure soil moisture and the amount of sunlight in the place you’re testing. And, better yet, there are no batteries needed.
Maintaining a beautiful yard used to be hard work, but by working smarter instead of harder, you’ll have more time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.