The Best Food Festivals of Summer 2012

Fair-weather foodies rejoice! Skip conventional summer food—burgers, hot dogs, and beer, oh my!—and opt for more sophisticated culinary options at one of this summer's best food festivals.

The Great GoogaMooga photo by Olivier Rassinoux, Bonnaroo photo by Sean Hunter

Fair-weather foodies, rejoice! Skip the conventional summer food—burgers and hot dogs and beer, oh my!—and opt for the more sophisticated culinary options at one of the summer's best food festivals.

The Great GoogaMooga (Thai sausage, pictured above)

When: May 19-20

Where: Brooklyn, New York

What: When you have 75 food vendors, 35 brewers, 30 winemakers, and 20 live-music performances (including the Roots and Hall & Oates), it's hard to narrow down the top picks. Don't miss the special events running throughout the course of the two afternoons, such as Noshing with Aziz Ansari, David Chang, Ruth Reichl, and James Murphy; Shell Shucked! and the GoogaMooga Shuck-off (hosted by the John Dory Oyster Bar); and the Big Gay Ice Cream Disco Party.

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The Great GoogaMooga photo by Olivier Rassinoux, Bonnaroo photo by Sean Hunter

Bonnaroo (pictured above)

When: June 7-10

Where: Manchester, Tennessee

What: Tens of thousands of happy campers at this festival have to eat somewhere. After the concerts, where do the Bonnaroo-goers find sustenance? At the Food Truck Oasis. Though the complete vendor list is still being finalized, expect to see a sampling of the best cuisine the southeast US has to offer.

2012 Vendy Awards

When: June 24

Where: Los Angeles

What: This street-food cook-off honors the best of on-the-go eating. Vendor nominations are open through May 31, so all of you L.A.-based foodies better start nominating. We'd recommend Bigmista's BBQ and Nina's Food.

Taste of Chicago

When: July 11-15

Where: Chicago

What: This annual five-day "feastival" is renowned for its eclectic and extensive variety of vendors. The full list of participating restaurants is still to be determined, but be sure to check out Dominick's Cooking Corner, featuring demonstrations from Chopped's Aaron Sanchez, Master Chef finalist Alejandra Schrader, and Girl and the Goat executive chef (and one of Food and Wine's best new chefs of 2011) Stephanie Izard.

The Great GoogaMooga photo by Olivier Rassinoux, Bonnaroo photo by Sean Hunter
The Great GoogaMooga photo by Olivier Rassinoux, Bonnaroo photo by Sean Hunter

Outside Lands (pictured above)

When: August 10-12

Where: San Francisco

What: In addition to an insane lineup of performers that run the gamut from Stevie Wonder to Die Antwoord, the festival's food component (Taste of the Bay Area) will feature bites from more than two dozen new vendors. Be sure to check out the filet mignon and portobello mushroom sliders at Up & Under, fried-rice balls and chicken wings at Nombe, and the Thai Young coconut water at Juice to You.

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The Great GoogaMooga photo by Olivier Rassinoux, Bonnaroo photo by Sean Hunter

Kentucky Bourbon Festival (pictured above)

When: September 11-16

Where: Bardstown, Kentucky

What: Wine and beer festivals are a ubiquitous part of the summer scene, so why not switch it up with the Kentucky-based bourbon festival? Sample fare at the Bourbon-Style Cooking School event or learn the secrets of bourbon-making at various demonstrations on the lawn. In the evening on Friday, September 14, hit up Bourbon, Cigars, and Jazz, a party that—surprise!—celebrates all three.

—Maggie Mallon (@maggiemallon) is a blogger and a regular contributor to Details.com

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