The Art of the Food Festival

What do you think of when you hear the word festival? Week-long music parties? Woodstock? Cultural celebrations? Festivus?

Photo courtesy of Henniker Brewing Co.

Photo courtesy of Henniker Brewing Co.

I think of food. I have nothing against music, cultures, or Seinfeld, but food festivals are something that I put in my personal planner and schedule my weekends around.

New Hampshire has food and drink festivals aplenty. Pretty much year-round, one can find a beer festival, seafood festival, maple syrup extravaganza, you name it. I’m not sure if it’s my anticipation of summer weather or my currently empty refrigerator, but I’ve been discovering a ton of new-to-me festivals that I am really excited to attend.

Here are a few coming up in June:

The 32nd Annual WOKQ Chowder Festival – Saturday June 4, Portsmouth

According to their website, this is New England’s Oldest and Largest Chowder Tasting Event. Local Seacoast restaurants compete for the cherished Golden Ladle, which is given to the best chowder! Both the judges and the taste-testing-masses get to vote for their favorites, so come to Prescott Park hungry.

Even if you don’t like seafood, fear not. Entries in the past have included corn chowder and vegetarian chowders, along with classic flavors like scallops and spicy seafood chowder. Nearly 20 different restaurants will be competing! The sampling of the chowders begins at 11:30am and runs until the food is gone.

Henniker Brewing Company’s 3rd Annual Kickoff to Summer Event – Saturday June 11, Henniker

A few weeks ago, I discussed my first impressions of the pretty town of Henniker. While I had been unable to tour the local brewery, Henniker Brewing Company reached out and told me about their upcoming events. For a small town, Henniker Brewing sure has a lot going on!henniker brewing 3

On June 11 from 12-4 pm, they will be hosting their 3rd annual summer celebration as a release party for their new summer seasonal beer, Sour Flower! This brand-new beer has hop notes of pine, mango, and citrus, which is perfect for summer time. It’s bright and refreshing, and the label features the NH state flower, the purple lilac. According to Ryan Maiola, Henniker Brewing’s Marketing Director, Sour Flower is one of the few NH brewed dry-hopped sour ales, which is one of the fastest growing beer styles in the country.

In addition to the beer release, there will be brewery tours, other beers to sample, food trucks, games, local musicians, vendors, and more. Admission is free, and kids and pets are welcome. Visit their website to learn more!

New Hampshire PoutineFest – Sunday June 26, Manchester

This one will be a first for me. The folks at the NH Fisher Cats, Manchester’s minor league baseball team, and the Franco-American Centre had the incredibly bright idea to create a festival dedicated to celebrating French culture (and therefore poutine) and baseball. On June 26, head on down to the Fisher Cats’ stadium in downtown Manchester at 12:35pm to start snacking on local restaurants’ poutine creations and then stay for the game! Tickets to PoutineFest can be purchased here and include a game ticket.

In case you aren’t familiar with poutine, it’s a tasty combination of French fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Here is a list of the restaurants currently participating in the festival, and therefore competing for the Ceinture de Championnat – Championship Belt! Combining cultures, baseball, and unique food concoctions… really why didn’t I think of this?

There are undoubtedly dozens of food festivals that I’ve missed here. Which one are you most looking forward to this summer?!

Be sure to comment below or email us at to share your ideas of any New Hampshire related food/drink/venue/organization that you think should be featured in our “Eat Drink Play” blog posts!

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