Food Festivals Flooding Cedar Fair Parks in 2017
Since introducing the Knott’s Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival in 2014, Cedar Fair has steadily been adding more and more food festival type events to their parks. They’ve been doing Taste of the Carolinas at Carowinds since 2015, and last year at California’s Great America they introduced the Taste of Orleans festival in the Orleans Place section of the park. This year the company is continuing to add more festivals and bring back these popular new traditions, and we’ve got the info on all of them (or at least the ones we’ve heard about) right here for you!
Knott’s Berry Farm
Knott’s is doubling down on the popular Boysenberry Festival this year, expanding it to last for nearly a full month from April 1 to April 23 every day. The festival, of course, highlights the Boysenberry that was developed and popularized by the Walter Knott back in the day (the berry is a cross between a raspberry, blackberry, dewberry, and loganberry). The best way to highlight the delicious fruit, of course, is with lots of food, with over 70 unique boysenberry dishes available. These range from ribs with boysenberry BBQ sauce to the (in)famous Fun Bun.
Along with the food, the festival features classic “fair” type games and attractions, like pie eating contests and pie making. There will also be live music, and films and presentations on the history of Knott’s Berry Farm. All of the details on the festival can be found on the Knott’s website here.
Returning for its third year in 2017 is Carowinds’ wildly popular Taste of the Carolinas. With such a wide variety of cuisine between different regions in North and South Carolina (don’t get me started on North Carolina vs. South Carolina barbecue), Carowinds’ Executive Chef Kris Suita and his culinary team provide a great opportunity for park guests to “eat their way” through the Carolinas. Like many of the festivals listed here, Taste of the Carolinas also features a great variety of local craft beer and wine from across North and South Carolina, as well as culinary demonstrations.
Taste of the Carolinas takes place this year on Saturdays and Sundays from April 22-May 14, For more information, be sure to visit Carowinds’ website. And if you’re curious about how it looks to eat your way through an entire food festival, be sure to check out our review of last year’s event!
California’s Great America
Last year California’s Great America helped reinvigorate the Orleans place section of the park with their Taste of Orleans festival in the summer, featuring quality New Orleans food, lots of live music, and New Orleans style art and decorations. The park is bringing back the festival this year, planned for July 15-16 and July 22-23.
Along with Taste of Orleans, CGA is also featuring a beer and food festival called Red, White, and Brews during two holiday weekends, Memorial Day and Fourth of July. The festival will be a “celebration of regional micro brews, Bay Area wines, (and) inspiring food.” The Bay Area is certainly a great source of excellent beer and wine, so it makes sense for the park to have a festival that features regional Northern California products. More information on both these festivals can be found here on the park website.
Kings Dominion is adding its own food festival this year, Taste of Virginia. Virginia is for Lovers, and whether you love food, wine, beer, or coasters…Kings Dominion’s brand new event, Taste of Virginia, is sure to delight. Taking place on weekends from May 6-May 21, Taste of Virginia will allow park guests to sample cuisine from across the commonwealth of Virginia including seafood from the Chesapeake Bay, Brunswick Stew, Virginia Peanuts, and recipes inspired by Smithfield Ham.
To add more local flair, Kings Dominion also promises a wide variety of Virginia craft beer and wines, as well as some local music! Be sure to check Kings Dominion’s website for more information!
Worlds of Fun
Kansas City is known for it’s barbecue, so it would make sense that Worlds of Fun would have a barbecue event. Their Barbecue and Brew Festival, now in it’s third year will take place during the last weekend in April and the first two weekends in May. In past years, this has been a separate ticketed event where Worlds of Fun’s executive chef pairs famous Kansas City BBQ dishes with local craft beers. For more information, be sure to visit Worlds of Fun’s website.
Worlds of Fun is also adding another food festival for 2017; Kansas City Flavor. According to Worlds of Fun, this festival celebrates every flavor from the storied heritage of livestock and agriculture to today! Taste the rich flavors of the KC culinary experience, with live demonstrations from the park’s Executive Chef Kevin Williams. Kansas City Flavor will take place the first three weekends in June.
After two years of success with their one-day Food Truck Festival, Kings Island is expanding the concept to each Friday in May, with their new Food Truck Fridays. I’ve attended several food truck events in the past (not at Kings Island), and the downside with so many trucks in one location, it’s impossible to try everything. By featuring a limited number of food trucks each week, it allows you to sample a wider variety of items, rather than be overwhelmed by 30+ trucks at one time.
For more information on Food Truck Fridays at Kings Island, be sure to visit the park’s website.
Brew and BBQ is back by popular demand at Cedar Point this season! Located in the park’s FrontierTown, guests can sample mouth-watering BBQ and more than 100 craft, micro and specialty brews. Like several of the other events mentioned here, Brew and BBQ will also feature live music, and will take place weekends May 19 through June 11, including Memorial Day, Monday, May 29. Check out a review of last year’s event over at CPFoodBlog!
Be sure to visit the Cedar Point website for more information!
In 2016, our neighbors to the North, Canada’s Wonderland, had more food-based special events than any other park in the chain. In addition to a Brew & BBQ Festival and Food Truck Festival, Canada’s Wonderland featured three events that were unique to the park; Taste of Greece, Taste of Italy and the Bacon Festival. While Canada’s Wonderland’s 2017 event schedule has not been finalized as of this post, these unique events, while some what self explanatory in nature, seem like some of the most intriguing food events in the chain.
All events took place in the park’s Action Zone, and stay tuned to the park’s website for more information to become available on if these events are returning in 2017.
Valleyfair is hosting an event to bring “Minnesota’s favorite things together for one festival – hotdish and local brews!” Now, if you’re like me and not from the upper Midwest, you probably have no idea what hotdish is (it seems to be sort of like a casserole, but any folks from Minnesota reading this should explain further in the comments). Apparently it’s a pretty popular thing up there, so this sounds like it also falls into the category of celebrating regional specialties. Valleyfair had the first the Hotdish and Hops festival last year over one weekend in June (you can read a bit about it on the CP Food Blog). While details haven’t been fully released yet for this year’s, it looks like it’ll be expanding to two weekends. The current dates listed are May 26-29 (Memorial Day) and June 2-3.
Along with the Hotdish & Hops festival, Valleyfair will be hosting a food truck festival like many of the other Cedar Fair parks are. Again, no details yet, but it will be happening June 17 & 18, at least. Once details on both these events get released, you’ll be able to find them on the Valleyfair site here.
All in all it’s great to see Cedar Fair continuing and adding to their list of festivals. Adding good food to parks is a great way to draw people in, and tying into regional specialties really highlights the uniqueness of each park. Just make sure read our post on whether you should eat before riding a roller coaster! So, are you going to make it to any of the Cedar Fair Festivals this year? Which festivals look the most exciting? Let us know in the comments below, or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!