With mild weather and little rainfall this time of year is a great time for one of Florida’s favorite outdoor activities – food festivals.
In the summer almost every Panhandle town has a seafood festival and in the fall Walt Disney World’s Epcot houses the gigantic Wine and Food Festival, which erases the notion that the Fall is a more quiet time to visit Orlando. In the late winter and early spring, Southeast Florida, however, holds the most food festivals.
If you like celebrity chefs and simply decadent cuisine and wild tastings, you’ll need to get tickets for the 18th Annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival, a five-day event starting February 20 this year. SO big it is sponsored by the Food Network, Cooking Channel, and Food & Wine magazine.
Over 100 food events at South Beach Wine & Food Festival
While some of the social events will break most bank accounts there are dozens of events around Miami that will cost under $100 and make your dining friends envious. The Festival attracts some 60,000 people and presents over 100 events that raise millions in funds for charity.
If casual food is your thing, there are two food festivals in March that honor Florida’s favorite transplanted sandwich – the Cuban sandwich. On March 2, at Kissimmee’s beautiful Lakeside Park, the 4th Annual Kissimmee Cuban Sandwich Festival will bring the top sandwich makers together in competition.
Orlando and Tampa have Dueling Cuban Sandwich Contests
There will be music, food of all types, and an attempt to oust the 161-foot long Cuban sandwich made by the Latin Times Media of Tampa. And guess what? On March 30, the Orlando winners will be facing the Tampa restaurants in the International Cuban Sandwich Festival at the Centro Asturiano in Ybor City. Some 100 food booths, live music, dance performances, and art will celebrate Florida’s Latin heritage.
More in line with the major Florida image is the 43th Marathon Seafood Festival, held this year on March 9 and 10. Some 20,000 visitors from Miami to Key West pour into the Middle Keys to consume huge amounts of stone crabs, spiny lobster, shellfish, and seafood.
An Ocean of Seafood At Marathon Seafood Fest
Marathon Community Park is filled with some 220 vendors and even if you don’t like seafood, there will be plenty of other selections. For a small town, this festival is amazing!
The Bacon and Bourbon Fest in the Wellington/ Delray Beach area May 22 and 23 at the Wellington Community Center is a rather unique food blend. The number of bacon and pork-related food selections almost matches the huge selection of bourbon and whiskeys to select.
There’s even bacon ice cream for the kids. I’ll pass on that one.
April is the time for some historically large but different food festivals. On April 5, Fort Lauderdale’s famous Las Olas Boulevard is closed so some seventy of South Florida’s most notable restaurants entertain in the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival.
This is an adults-only event costing $130 to $150 for the American Lung Association. That price allows you to buffet away for five blocks of food and wine samples by some very expensive restaurants which may cost you that much for a full meal in just one.
I must say that A Taste of Saint Augustine held at the Amphitheater on Saint Augustine Beach April 28, is a more family-oriented affair, held in the daytime, but the diversity of cuisine from some twenty-five local restaurants is wonderful.
You purchase $1 “taste-tickets” and run around like a kid on Halloween. There is music and activities for the entire family.