The American West is a feast for people who love food. And what better way to celebrate this bounty than with festivals? Though there are hundreds throughout the West, we've chosen the handful that we think are the best—the ones that mix generous servings of fun with great eats.
Gilroy Garlic Festival — Gilroy, Calif., July 27-29. (408) 842-1625, www.gilroygarlicfestival.com. The "stinking rose" in all its glory: everything from garlic fries to garlic jelly and, oh yes, garlic ice cream.
Olathe Sweet Corn Festival — Olathe, Colo., August 4. (877) 858-6006, www.olathesweetcornfest.com. Aw, shucks. Butter up to 70,000 ears of what locals claim is the sweetest and most tender corn in the entire West.
L.A. Tofu Festival — Los Angeles, Calif., July 19-20. (213) 473-1620,www.tofufest.org. The Little Tokyo district comes to life with great multiethnic food and soy's surprising treats, like chocolate tofu cheesecake, tofu enchiladas, and tofu smoothies.
World Championship Dutch Oven Cook-off — Wellsville, Utah, August 4. (800) 225-3378, www.americanwestcenter.org. Who knew that a cast iron pot could be so much fun? If the chicken with sausage stuffing doesn't convince you, the raspberry pear pie and cheese onion rolls will.
The Whole Enchilada Fiesta — Las Cruces, N.M., October 5-7. (505) 524-6832,www.twefie.com. Home of the world's largest enchilada—750 pounds of ground corn, 75 gallons of red chile sauce, and a whole ton of fun.
OysterFest — Shelton, Wash., October 6-7. (360) 426-2021,www.oysterfest.org. Catch the West Coast Oyster Shucking Championships and bivalves so plentiful you'll be begging for more cocktail sauce.
La Fiesta de Los Chiles — Tucson, Ariz., October 27-28. (520) 326-9686 ext. 20. One hot salute to the Southwest's favorite tongue sizzler, the chile pepper, with dishes from the Hopi Nation and the Sonoran Desert.
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival — Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, November 3-11. (808) 326-7820,www.konacoffeefest.com. Move over, Starbucks. Serious fans of high-priced joe gather for a cupping competition, recipe contest, and tour of the Kona Coffee Living History Farm.
Verboort Sausage Festival — Verboort, Ore., November 3. (503) 357-3860, www.verboort.org/dinner. There's only one reason thousands of meat eaters would file through the basement of Visitation Catholic Church on a Saturday. The Dutch sausage is divine.
Photography by Craig Maxwell
This article was first published in July 2001. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.