Best Food Festivals in Small Towns 2015-2016 - From Newport and Naples to the Hawaiian and Caribbean islands, these events are easy to digest.

Share Article

Ten Small Town Food Festivals that Prove to be More Satisfying

Judges at A Taste of St. Croix enjoy savory bites and scenery.

At small town festivals you really get to talk with the celebrity chefs and wine makers and enjoy the samples and sips they are sharing.

Foodies wanting a satisfying food festival experience in 2015 and 2016 are encouraged to indulge in the following events recommended by chefs and hoteliers. From Newport and Naples to the Hawaiian and Caribbean islands, these events are engaging, educational and easy to digest.

“Bigger doesn't always mean better,” says hotelier Sid Kalmans, “At small town festivals you really get to talk with the chefs and wine makers and enjoy the samples and sips they are sharing. It is a more personal and memorable experience.”

Kalmans says his favorite food festival is the annual Taste of St. Croix (April 14, 2016), a grassroots event started by local restaurateurs that has raises money non-profits and programs in the US Virgin Islands. The one-night beachside event showcases more than 50 local restaurants, rums, wines, beers, live music and much more. Hotel Caravelle on St. Croix will offer a special Taste of St. Croix 2016 package that includes a cookbook. “Events like Taste of St. Croix are even more satisfying when you know that the ticket price goes to charities.”

The Naples Food & Wine Festival (Jan 29-31, 2016) in Florida has raised more than $135 million for non-profit organizations. Tickets to this festival are pricey at $10,000 per couple. For more affordable options, Kalmans suggests the Stone Crab Festival (Oct 23-25, 2015) and Taste of Collier (April) where admission is less than $10 per person. “Naples is a wonderful small town overflowing with incredible independent restaurants,” says Rob DeCastro, General Manager of Lemon Tree Inn, “Taste of Collier is a great way to sample the incredible culinary creations of more than 35 local chefs.”

Kevin Thiele, a trained chef and the Food & Beverage Director of Hotel Viking in Newport, Rhode Island, says the Newport Mansions Food & Wine Festival (Sept 25-27, 2015) is amazing but reminds guests not to miss Newport’s smaller events including Taste of Newport (Nov 1, 2015) and Newport Restaurant Weeks (Nov 6-15, 2015 and March 2016) which feature 3-course prix fixe menus at numerous local establishments including One Bellevue at Hotel Viking.

James Beard Award winner Chef Sam Choy names the “Cooking for Solutions” programs at California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium as the most impressive programs promoting sustainable culinary practices. “Their event was so successful that have broken it up into multiple smaller, more sustainable programs throughout the year.” Chef Choy also suggests the Breadfruit Festival (Sept 2015) in Hawaii, which focuses on the health, economic and environmental benefits of local breadfruit, and the Poke Festival (October 2015) which will be held in Seattle this year. Spearheaded by Chef Choy, the Poke (po-KEH) contest celebrates locally sourced seafood with competition in four divisions. The Breadfruit Festival also has a cooking competition as well as educational seminars and cooking demos. “Breadfruit can be used to make chips, bagels, breads, and so much more,” stated Chef Choy, “Growing and utilizing breadfruit in Pacific and Caribbean islands can reduce food insecurities for areas that import the majority of their foods.”

Breadfruit is a key ingredient in many dishes in the Caribbean, where the fruit-bearing tree grows well. Konrad Wagner, Director of Calabash Cove Resort & Spa on St. Lucia, says that the upcoming Jounen Kweyol (Oct 25, 2015) is a great time to sample local dishes that feature the starchy vegetable. “Small town festivals and events are a wonderful way to get to know residents and visitors,” says Wagner who also coordinates the annual Rotary Club Wine & Cheese Fiesta, held every February that raises funds for local programs and nonprofits, “and attending such events are a great way to support the community.”

Dates and events may change. Please contact the event organizers for updated information.


Share article on socal media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Jane Watkins
Watkins PR
+1 (305) 235-8575
Email >
since: 12/2008
Follow >
Follow us on