We won’t dispute that watching the leaves change is a worthy weekend activity. But these gatherings of food-world thinkers, drinkers, movers, and shakers are sure to inspire a stomach-led trip this fall. Here’s how to make the most of the harvest season.

Taste Talks

Photo: Taste Talks

Where: Brooklyn, NY and Chicago, IL
When: September 12–14 and October 3–5
Website: taste-talks.com

What: This newcomer was founded in 2013, but it instantly gained cred for its forward-thinking programming and star-chef involvement (this year’s fest is curated by Mission Cantina’s Danny Bowien and Publican’s Paul Kahan, and presented by Mario Batali). Quench your intellectual thirst at provocative panel discussions like “What Is Buzz?” and “Reinventing the Underground Dining Experience,” then sate your appetite at brunches, BBQs, and dinners hosted by some of the hottest chefs in town. (Photo: Taste Talks)

Feast Portland

Photo: Flickr/ Feast Portland

Where: Portland, OR
When: September 18–21
Website: feastportland.com

What: This Bon Appétit-sanctioned festival is spread over four days and multiple venues around Portland. Choose from classes, dinners, tastings, competitions, and popular marquee events like the Sandwich Invitational and the Night Market—all with a focus on local chefs and ingredients. Prices range from $55 workshops to $200 wine dinners, but you’ll feel good knowing proceeds benefit hunger-fighting efforts in Oregon. (Photo: Flickr/ Feast Portland)

Music City Food and Wine Festival

Photo: Facebook/Music City Food and Wine Festival

Where: Nashville, TN
When: September 20–21
Website: musiccityfoodandwinefestival.com

What: Music is the food of love, and Music City loves its food. At the second annual festival, local chefs and brewers are joined by visitors like Tim Love and Amanda Freitag for a weekend of Southern-focused demonstrations, panel discussions, and tasting events. But the highlight is Harvest Night when you get the best of both worlds: The cream of Nashville’s culinary scene paired with live music curated by Kings of Leon. (Photo: Facebook/Music City Food and Wine Festival)

World Series of BBQ

Photo: Facebook/The American Royal

Where: Kansas City, MO
When: October 2–5
Website: americanroyal.com

What: The world’s largest BBQ competition is the main event at the American Royal, a two-month-long agricultural festival that includes a rodeo and horse show. Each year, more than 550 crews compete in the World Series, which includes contests such as a junior competition, the KC Masterpiece Invitational, and the Joe’s Kansas City Open. Fortunately for your physician, the World Series is not a tasting event; fortunately for you, there’s plenty of flame-grilled grub to be had in the BBQ Expo and Food Court. (Photo: Facebook/The American Royal)

Fresh Hop Ale Festival

Photo: Facebook/Fresh Hop Ale Festival

Where: Yakima, WA
When: October 4
Website: freshhopalefestival.com

What: Fresh-hopped brews are one of fleeting joys of fall; they’re made with hops that are thrown into the kettle within 24 hours of being picked, imparting the beers with flavorful, fragrant essential oils that get lost when hops are dried. Taste the results of Washington State’s bumper hop harvest at this boozy celebration, featuring more than 25 craft breweries (including homestate reps Georgetown, Iron Horse, Icycle, and Snipes Mountain), as well as a homebrew competition. (Photo: Facebook/Fresh Hop Ale Festival)

New York City Wine and Food Festival


Where: New York, New York
When: October 16–19
Website: nycwff.org

What: The Food Network and Food & Wine pull in the extended family for this blowout series of dinners, seminars, tastings, talks, demos, classes, and parties held all over the city. Along with small-screen celebrity chefs, the list of participants includes heavy-hitters from the New York restaurant scene such as Cronut creator Dominique Ansel. The massive volume of events means there’s something for every taste and budget, from a $20 panel discussion to a $250 dinner—provided you can get tickets before they sell out. (Photo: NYCWFF)