Food festivals within driving distance of Charlotte that define NC cuisine

Speedy's Barbecue workers make barbecue sandiwches in one of the barbecue tents during the 30th Annual Barbecue Festival in Lexington on Saturday.

Take a second and scroll through the photos on your phone or Instagram account. How many of those photos are food related? If you’re like me, there are probably more photos of what you ate than of your spouse or children.

Is this food obsession something new given the ability to share our gastronomical conquests instantly over a myriad of social media? Maybe not. We’ve always been obsessed with food.

Step up your food obsession by checking out one of these N.C. food food festivals — some that date back generations — designed to celebrate the agriculture and culinary abundance of the Tar Heel state.

86th Annual Ramp Convention in Waynesville


A ramp is a wild spring onion that can be found growing in the Appalachian Mountains. The onion has a distinctively strong flavor that melds the taste of onion and garlic.

Waynesville has been hosting an annual festival to celebrate the food for 86 years. The festival also celebrates the traditions of mountain music and clogging. It also features two special dinners that truly highlight the ramp.

When: April 30 – May 1
Where: 171 Legion Dr., Waynesville
Drive from Charlotte: 2.5 hours

13th Annual North Carolina Blueberry Festival in Burgaw


According to N.C. State University, North Carolina ranks sixth in the United States for blueberry production. The majority of those farmers are located towards the coast, with the small town of Burgaw as the central point.

The communities celebrate the berry with a recipe contest, blueberry bake sale and blueberry farmers marketplace. Additional activities include plenty of live beach music, Tour de Blueberry bike race and a BBQ competition.

When: June 17-18
Where: 106 E. Wilmington St., Burgaw
Drive from Charlotte: 4 hours

Mush, Music and Mutts in Shelby

Liver mush, that is. Liver mush is composed of pig liver, head parts and cornmeal, and spiced with black pepper and sage. While liver mush is the star of the show, with several restaurants offering creative dishes featuring the staple, there are plenty of other foods for the squeamish eater.

The festival kicks off with a chili cook-off and beer festival, and includes a liver mush eating contest (sign me up!), a pet festival, and the Little Miss Liver Mush Pageant.

When: October 14-15
Where: Historic Court Square in Uptown Shelby
Drive from Charlotte: 1 hour

36th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival in Ocean Isle Beach


My phone is currently loaded with photos of oysters from my recent dinner at Sea Level. Some of those oysters come from coastal North Carolina.

The Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival honors the aphrodisiac of the sea with an oyster shucking contest, oyster eating competition and oyster stew cook-off. Once you’ve had your fill of oysters, there’s a shagging competition.

When: Oct. 15-16
Where: 8 E. Second Street, Ocean Isle Beach
Drive from Charlotte: 4 hours

33rd Annual Barbecue Festival in Lexington

Speedy's Barbecue workers make barbecue sandiwches in one of the barbecue tents during the 30th Annual Barbecue Festival in Lexington on Saturday.
The Dispatch/Donnie Roberts/Barbecue Festival

If you’ve always wanted to explore the difference between Eastern and Western North Carolina BBQ, then check out the 33rd Annual Barbecue Festival in Lexington, the hub of Western style BBQ (also called Lexington-style BBQ by many).

Besides BBQ, festival hosts a wine-garden showcasing Yadkin Valley wineries. Non-eating activities include a pig race, arts and crafts, and a lumberjack demonstration.

When: Oct. 22
Where: S. Main Street, from 5th Street to 5th Avenue, Lexington
Drive from Charlotte: 1 hour

There are plenty more food festivals in North Carolina like the Black Walnut FestivalSourwood Festival, and the North Carolina Apple Festival. Follow your taste buds and find a food festival that suits you.

Photos: The Dispatch/Donnie Roberts/Barbecue Festival; Courtesy of the respective festivals


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