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Tasting a trip through Alabama

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By Wayne Lazarus on August 26th, 2009

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

The late summer sight of corn stalks reaching for the sky or the smell of just-picked tomatoes brings harvest celebrations to mind. What better way to really get a sense of a place than by tasting its produce? Alabama has food festivals throughout the year.

There’s a Peachfest in Clanton, the Slocumb Tomato Festival (just outside of Dothan,) the Alabama Blueberry Festival (in Brewton, south of Evergreen) even the Poke Salat Festival in Arab in May.

While many festivals celebrate with a beauty pageant, 5K run and arts and crafts booths, by far the most popular are those that offer a lot of food a lot of ways. In April, the Faunsdale Bar and Grill holds the Alabama Crawfish Festival. Faunsdale’s population swells from around 100 to about 25,000 that weekend, so use to find reservations in Demopolis or Selma. Then try the “mudbug” served boiled, fried, in etoufee, pistolettes and pies. In late August, Burkeville (just south of Montgomery) has an Okra Festival. Organizer Barbara Evans says visitors can try okra fried, boiled, pickled or in pies and casseroles. On the Saturday before Labor Day, the Butterbean Festival in Pinson (a suburb of Birmingham) offers (what else?) butterbeans and cornbread. Elberta, a tiny community just north of Orange Beach has a sausage festival in March and October with 34,000 in attendance.

For many people though, the best festival is a seafood festival. In September, the annual Taste of the Bayou is held in Bayou La Batre. For the $20 entrance fee, you can stroll among some 30 booths and taste food prepared by both local and professional chefs. Alabama’s largest food festival is held just a few weeks later in October. The National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores attracts some 300,000 people to hundreds of vendors. Here you can have shrimp just about any way, as well as crab, oysters, lobster, scallops, even alligator. Be sure to pack the cooler.

(Photos courtesy Alabama Tourism Dept.)

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