2010 Food festivals offer a taste of Alabama

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Families can enjoy a taste of Alabama all year long with food festivals across the state. The BBQ Hog Wild Festival in Mobile and Elberta's Original German Sausage Festival take place in March. Rainbow City's Chocolate Festival is held in April, Brewton's Blueberry Festival in June, Stokin' the Fire BBQ at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham is in August and the National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores takes place in October.

The following list includes 30 food festivals that are among the many cuisine-themed events promoted by the Alabama Tourism Department.

9th Annual BBQ Championship Hog Wild Festival, Mar. 12-13, Mobile
Thousands of visitors flock to the Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds for this "hog wild" benefit for United Cerebral Palsy. Live music, children's activities, barrel racing, cooking demonstrations and BBQ. Fri., 3-9:30 p.m.; Sat., 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. 251.479.4900. www.bbqmobile.net.

The Original German Sausage Festival, Mar. 27, Elberta
Families can enjoy German sausage, a variety of other foods, music, dancing, crafts, children's rides and games. The festival is also a top 10 tourism event for March. Free. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. 251.986.5805, http://sausagefest.elbertafire.com.

Asian Cultures & Food Spring Festival, Apr. 3, Birmingham
Enjoy a celebration of Asian art and culture with Asian foods, fashion show, kite building, Japanese Bhuto, a Chinese garden, and entertainment. Opening ceremony: 10:30-11 a.m.; festival: 11 a.m-3:30 p.m. 205-903-5569. www.bhmasianfound.org.

12th Annual Saint Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival, Apr. 9-10, Birmingham
Savor homemade Lebanese food, including baked kibbee, rolled grape leaves, spinach pies, grilled lemon chicken, music, dancing and tours of the only Maronite Catholic Church in Alabama. Free. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. 205.251.5057. www.stelias.org.

Alabama Chocolate Festival, Apr. 10, Rainbow City
Enjoy musical, arts, crafts, kid's carnival and delicious chocolate as well as a bake-off and chocolate pudding eating contest. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Admission charged. 256.543.3472. www.alabamachocolatefestival.com.

22nd Annual Baldwin County Strawberry Festival, Apr. 10-11, Loxley
Savor fresh strawberries and food provided by more than a dozen vendors showcasing their culinary offerings including strawberry shortcake. Children will enjoy the carnival and pony rides while adults will enjoy arts and crafts, a classic car show and live music. Sat., 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 251.550.2003, www.baldwincountystrawberryfestival.org.

6th Annual Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival, Apr. 11-11, Moulton
Bring the family for a chicken clucking contest, karaoke, fried chicken feet, egg-eating contests, entertainment, arts and crafts fair and a "Down on the Farm" agricultural expo. Admission charged. Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 1.800.974.1658, www.alabamachickenandeggfestival.com.

18th Annual Faunsdale Crawfish Festival, Apr. 17-18, Faunsdale
Enjoy Cajun-styled crawfish cooked several ways: boiled, fried, etouffee, pistolettes and pies. Also enjoy arts, crafts and music. Intersection of U.S. 80 and Ala. 25. Admission charged.  10 a.m. - midnight. 334.628.3240.

Sucarnochee BBQ and Blues Cook-off, Apr. 17-18,University of West Alabama-Livingston
This is a Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned event and Alabama's Governor's Cup featuring pro, backyard, kids and sauce competition. Enjoy live blues music Friday evening. Fri., 5-11 p.m.; Sat., judging at noon. 205-652-3497.

Antique and Strawberry Festival, Apr. 30-May 2, Moulton
Savor fresh strawberries and food provided by a dozen vendors showcasing their culinary offerings including strawberry shortcake, pies and fudge. Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. www.lawrencealabama.com.

Whistlestop Festival and Rocket City BBQ, April 30-May 1, Huntsville
This event is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society and includes professional and amateur BBQ competitions. National and local country music entertainers perform on stage. Admission charged. Fri., 3-11 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-11 p.m. 256.564.8100, http://www.rocketcitybbq.com.

Gulf Coast Zydeco Music & Crawfish Festival, May 14-16, Daphne
Enjoy dancing, cajun food, and Zydeco bands. Saturday is "Community Day" featuring a parade. Fri., 6-11:45 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-11:45 p.m.; noon -7 p.m. 251.626.5300. www.gulfcoastzydecomusicfestival.com.

Tri-State BBQ "Smokin' in the Wiregrass" Festival, May 15-16, Dothan
An Annual Festival where BBQ is king. Schedule includes BBQ cook-off, music, and fun for everyone. www.tristatebbq.com.

Catfish Festival, May 15, Scottsboro
A great hometown festival at Jackson County Park includes a catfish tournament for adults, catfish rodeo for children, arts, crafts, car show and free concerts. Admission charged. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. 256.574.1330.

Low Country Boil, May 30, Mentone
Bring the family to the Mentone Springs Hotel for a Memorial Day weekend tradition atop Lookout Mountain. Enjoy an array of fresh shrimp, sausage, corn, potatoes, pork tenderloin, corn souffle, black-eyed pea cakes, and homemade desserts. One seating at 6 p.m., with live entertainment. Seating is limited. 256.634.4040.

Alabama Blueberry Festival, June 19, Brewton
Savor fresh picked blueberries and blueberry ice cream. Also featured are cookbooks, antique car show, motorcycle show, arts, crafts and a children's area. Free. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 251.867.3224, www.brewtonchamber.com.

Slocomb Tomato Festival, June 19, Slocomb
A family-friendly festival featuring a Ms. Tomato Pageant, parade, music and recipe contest. Free. 334.886.2334.

Chilton County Peach Festival, June 19-26, Clanton
Enjoy various foods made with peaches, barbecue, a cook-off, peach run, pageants and fishing tournaments throughout the week. Free. 205.755.2400, www.chiltoncountychamber.com.

A Taste of Switzerland, Aug. 1, Atalla
Celebrate the Swiss national holiday with a Swiss winemaker. Get a glimpse of Swiss traditions and enjoy food and music from the old country. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission charged. 256.538.5452, www.willscreekvineyards.com.

Franklin County Watermelon Festival, Aug. 21, Russellville
Enjoy fresh watermelon and contests, arts, crafts, 5K run, bike ride, golf, tennis tournament, antique car and truck show, beauty pageant, music, games and food. Fri., 6-11 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Free. 256.332.1760, www.franklincountychamber.org.

Annual Stokin' the Fire BBQ and Music Festival, Aug. 20-21, Birmingham
Join professional barbecuers from around the country at the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in downtown Birmingham. Teams compete for a chance to win $20,000 in cash and prizes while local teams compete for bragging' rights to be the best Q in town. Admission charged. Fri., 4-11 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. 205.324.1911, www.slossfurnaces.com.

Annual Okra Festival, Aug. 28, Burkville
Vendors offer home-grown okra, a variety of other foods, arts, crafts and jazz music. Free. Noon-6 p.m., 334.652.1206.

5th Annual Alabama Butterbean Festival, Sept. 4, Pinson
Butterbeans and a Miss Butterbean Beauty Pageant are the highlights of this festival. More than 200 arts, crafts and food booths complement the event as well as a Tail Waggin' (dog) Pageant. Free. 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. 205.572.2041. www.butterbeanfestival.com.

Sweet Tater Festival, Sept. 5-6, Crane Hill
Families will enjoy plenty of sweet taters, live entertainment, prizes, food, arts and crafts. Admission charged. 256.747.8635, www.sweettaterfestival.com.

Riverfest Barbecue Cook-Off, Sept. 17-18, Decatur
Visitors will be able to eat plenty of barbecue at the Alabama State Barbecue Cook-Off Championship at Ingalls Harbor. The event features barbecue teams from throughout the U.S., live musical entertainment, and more. Fri, noon-10 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-10 p.m. 800.524.6181.

21st Annual Taste of the Bayou, Sept. 25, Bayou La Batre
This seafood tasting event features more than 30 vendors offering succulent dishes prepared by local and professional chefs. Admission charged. 5-8 p.m., 251.824.4088, www.bayoulabatrechamber.com.

National Shrimp Festival, Oct. 7-10, Gulf Shores
Savor fresh gulf seafood at the 38th Annual National Shrimp Festival on the beaches of Gulf Shores. Three-hundred vendors showcase their fine arts and crafts, two musical stages feature major national recording artists as well as local favorites. The four-day event attracts more than 300,000 visitors. Thurs.-Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. 251.968.6904, www.nationalsrhimpfestival.com.

Evergreen Sausage Festival, Oct. 9, Evergreen
Enjoy locally produced sausage, live entertainment, a pet parade and children's activities. Free. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 251.578.1707. www.evergreenchamberofcommerce.org.

66th Annual National Peanut Festival, Oct. 29-Nov. 6, Dothan
The tourism event celebrates the local peanut crop. Livestock exhibits, competitions, recipe contests, carnival rides, food and fun. Admission charged. Check Web site for times. 334.793.4323, www.nationalpeanutfestival.com.

Christmas on the River Barbeque Cook-Off, Nov. 28-Dec. 4, Demopolis
The weeklong festival features Christmas in the Canebrake, the Alabama State Championship BBQ Cook-off, Alabama By-Choir Concert, day parade, Jingle Bell run, nautical parade and fireworks show. Finale is the first Saturday in December. Free. 334.289.0270, www.christmasontheriver.com.

For information on these and more food festivals listed in the 2010 Alabama Calendar of Events log on to www.alabama.travel.

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