Food is an essential part of any festival, but these Texas towns take their focus on cuisine to the next level. Tantalize your taste buds at these food-themed events featuring sizzling cookoffs, sweet samples, and a gathering of like-minded foodies from across the state.
July 13, Weatherford
More than 50,000 people packed into Downtown Weatherford last year for the annual Parker County Peach Festival. The event, held during the peak of peach season, returns for its 35th summer; attendees can visit vendors and taste a wide array of peach-themed treats, including peach juleps, tea, ice cream, cobbler, and pie. The festival also features two stages with live local entertainment, a judged food competition, and kid’s activities. For those willing to work up a sweat, the Peach Pedal Bike Ride, featuring four routes through Parker County, takes place in the morning on festival day. Historic Downtown Weatherford; 817-596-3801
July 20, Friona
Celebrating an American classic, this festival features a 10 to 20-team cheeseburger cookoff and plenty of food to go around. The event takes place in Friona, a town of less than 4,000 in the Texas Panhandle, and usually draws 2,500 to 3,000 locals and travelers alike. Friona has embraced the cheeseburger as a food representative of its three major industries: beef, wheat, and dairy. During this 14th annual event, teams cook 200 third-pound burgers to be judged on appearance, taste, and creativity. Festival goers can sample burgers, visit vendors, and stick around afterward for a fireworks show. Friona Community Center; 806-250-3491
July 27, Austin
Competition heats up each year at the Austin Quesoff, a serious celebration of melted cheese. This year, more than 35 teams from Austin and the surrounding area will convene for this queso cookoff, hosted by event venue The Mohawk. Both chefs and home cooks take part in the competition, with each queso creation judged up against four categories: Meaty, Spicy, Veggie, and Wild Card. Attendees, which number 1,500-2,000 annually, can come to enjoy queso dishes and see who’s crowned in each category. The Mohawk; email@example.com
Aug. 30-31, Oatmeal and Bertram
Those who make Bertram a part of their Labor Day weekend plans can see oatmeal “rain” down from the sky, dropped by an aircraft during this annual grain-themed festival. The festival begins on Friday in Oatmeal, a small community neighboring Bertram in Central Texas. Now in its 42nd year, the event started as an attempt to get Oatmeal back on the map after state map-makers left it out. It has since progressed into two days of festivities, transitioning to downtown Bertram Saturday for a parade, activities such as an oatmeal-baking contest and an oatmeal box stacking contest for kids, and a street dance with live music from country artists Dale Watson and Jarrod Birmingham. Various locations; 512-244-6357
July and August, Various locations
Watermelon festivals take place in Texas towns large and small this summer, serving up seed-spitting contests, biggest watermelon weigh-ins, watermelon bowling, and, of course, free watermelon slices. You may have just missed the Luling Watermelon Thump, but there’s still the What-A-Melon Festival in Center, and watermelon fests in McDade and Naples in July. In August, the Dallas Farmer’s Market hosts its own festival celebrating the summer fruit, and melons also make an appearance in De Leon’s long-standing Peach and Melon Festival.