Sonoma County Harvest Fair, California
Festival lovers who want to add some kick to their annual outing will want to head straight to the source for this celebration of the annual grape harvest and the wine it bestows on us. Now in its 43rd year, the festival lures people from across the country to the epicenter of California Wine Country. The highlight is the Grand Tasting Pavilion, where more than 100 vintners showcase the best they have to offer. But the festival is not just about alcohol. Dozens of eateries from the region take part (in addition to local arts and crafts purveyors), making the whole experience more feast than party. Gate admission to the festival is $5 and the tastings range from $5 for a Port and Chocolate experience to $65 for the Grand Tasting. The 2017 dates are Oct. 6-8 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, Ohio
A list of harvest festivals without an Oktoberfest on it is like a harvest without a crop. This annual event is the largest American Oktoberfest out there, attracting upwards of half a million visitors to its celebration of southwest Ohio’s German heritage. Omnivores at the event polish off more than 80,000 pounds of bratwurst, 24,000 potato pancakes, 3,600 pounds of sauerkraut. Not to be missed is the Running of the Wieners that kicks off the festival, when 100 dachshunds dressed as hot dogs compete for the top prize. The festival falls on Sept. 15-17 and admission to most events is free.
North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival, North Carolina
Called the “wrinkly nut” by the Spanish explorers who found them in the Americas, pecans are one of the most versatile nuts out there. And America is the source of almost 95 percent of the world’s supply. North Carolinians celebrate the annual harvest with a shindig in Whiteville that is Southern to the core, with beauty contests, car shows, home tours and a fancy dress ball. The 2017 festival is on Nov. 4-5 and most events are free.
Trailing of the Sheep Festival, Idaho
What’s not to love about thousands of braying sheep being paraded down the streets of a mountain town in the crisp autumn air? This annual festival (Oct. 4-8) in Sun Valley/Ketchum, Idaho, is as much a celebration of the American West as it is of all things ovine. In addition to the Sheep Parade down Main Street, there are storytelling venues, a folklife fair, sheep dog trials, a sheepherders’ ball and cooking classes for mutton lovers from both near and far.