Good food and good company. What more do you need? At FestivalNet, we help you add a touch of delectableness to your day by providing access to some of the most exciting upcoming food festivals in Illinois and across North America! Treat yourself to flavorful cuisine that tantalize your taste buds and keeps you coming back for more! Whether you’re looking for North American or international food festivals, you’ll find something that’s right up your alley here. Browse through our listings to explore a wide range of diverse festivals that feature Caribbean, Korean, Indian, Italian, French, Vietnamese, Mexican, and Thai cuisine, among others. Each festival incorporates unique activities and cultural themes to ensure you have a memorable experience that replays in your mind for years to come!
As soon as summer rolls around, people look for events for an excuse to go outside and enjoy the sunny weather all day. With the coronavirus pandemic under control, foodies all across the country are resuming the hunt for the best food trucks and restaurants to discover new flavors.
Whatever you are in the mood to eat, we guarantee there’s a food truck event for it somewhere near you. Below you’ll find a list of the most popular catering events.
I Like It Hot! Festival, Largo (Florida)
Held at the Largo Event Center in September, this food festival is going to be one of the hottest events of the year. If you like getting the spiciest wings possible or drowning your tacos in hot sauce, you’ll feel right at home here. The food trucks and catering providers at this hot and spicy food festival will tickle your taste buds as they bring on sizzling offerings in the form of salsas, sauces, rubs, seasonings, and hundreds of dynamite food samples.
Food vendors from across the state are expected to feature local and regional food exhibits. You can get your fill of BBQ sauces, pepper plants, pepper jellies, beef jerky, and much more. We dare you to join the many contests that will be held over the weekend. From a lollipop licking contest (featuring the hottest lollipop in the world) to pepper eating contests, there’s a lot to look forward to.
East Texas State Fair, Tyler (Texas)
The annual East Texas State Fair is back in Tyler this year. The fair is bringing back all the food, livestock shows, and exciting rides fairgoers have grown to love over the years. In addition to the delicious food and creative food vendors, you’ll also get to enjoy activities like an Angus competition, circus acts, and…milking cows! Live music will be played throughout the fair on the main stage while you dabble in bacon cheeseburgers, fried Oreos, giant corn dogs, turkey legs, and more.
Tacos ‘N Taps Festival, Charlotte (North Carolina)
Those craving some real, delicious, make-your-soul-sing Mexican food, must head to the Tacos ‘N Taps Festival this summer. There’s beer, tequila, margaritas, nachos, tacos, piñata punching, and tons of other entertainment. The festival is expected to welcome more than 15 taco trucks alone, which serve over 30 different types of tacos. And when you get tired of stuffing your face, visit the boutique stores offering hot sauces, jewelry, breweriana, and much more.
Ridgefield Park Street Fair, Ridgefield Park (New Jersey)
Every year, the village of Ridgefield Park is transformed into one giant town block party, with the entire community coming together to enjoy sand art, face painting, temporary tattoos, and of course, amazing food. Local bands belt out tunes all day long while dozens of merchants and food vendors showcase their offerings.
The highlight of the fair is the open-air cafes and food trucks along the main street (from Cedar Street to all the way to Park Street). They always have a fantastic selection of treats, including cheesesteaks, sausage and pepper sandwiches, hamburgers, french fries, italian ices, shish kabobs, zeppoles, chicken fingers, ice cream, hot dogs, and roasted corn.
Olympia Harbor Days Festival, Olympia (Washington)
This annual tugboat festival showcases steamships, tall ships, vintage tugboats, and other historic vessels from the 20th century. Guests enjoy marine and nautical-themed attractions, great artisans, incredible music, and a vibrant food scene.
The festival has a Food Galley where you can find everything from fair food to seafood and even some gourmet delights. Food trucks and other catering providers serve countless options, but make sure you try the prawn and lobster skewers, paella, and crab cakes.
Original Lobster Festival, Fountain Valley (California)
This is perhaps the biggest festival featuring the Fresh Live Maine Lobster, cooked by master chefs with utmost perfection. Feel free to dance away the butter-filled calories on the dance floor where popular music bands and singers belt out groovy tunes. Visitors can kick back in the VIP Lounge or hang out in the food court, check out the arts and crafts booths, take one free souvenir e-photo (per person), and sing a tune at the Karaoke Lounge.
Don’t forget to sip on delicious beverages: wine, beer, and specialty drinks such as Margaritas and Screaming Lobster. While you’re feasting on the crab and the beer, your kids can partake in face painting, magic shows, inflatable bounces, games, live reptiles, and balloon twisting. There’s something for everyone.
Keep in mind that the Lobster Feast is not included in the entry fees; you have to pay for it separately. The live music is performed on two stages and a dance floor. Do carry a photo ID for beach bars.
5 Tips To Help You Get Ready For Your Next Food Truck Festival
Now that you know about some of the events where you can park your food truck this year, you may be wondering about how to set yourself up for success, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience. Well, thriving during a food festival takes some work but it’s an excellent opportunity to try out new menu items, grow your customer base, and expand your business.
We talked to some of our members who operate a food truck and have participated in food festivals in the past, and here are a few tips they have for you:
Keep Up With What’s “Hot”
The food truck industry is ever evolving and a festival is a perfect place to try your hand at something new and see if it works. Vegan, plant-based, rice bowls, healthy drinks and smoothies, and CBD drinks are just some of the examples of changing times in the food industry, so consider trying them out at your next event.
Design Your Truck to Match Your Vibe
A festival with a variety of food trucks means customers have a lot of choices. Since we eat with our eyes first, and the appearance of your truck is a crucial part of attracting passersby, pay special attention to your truck’s design. Your color palette, logo, and overall vibe should help potential customers determine what you’re serving.
If you can afford it, we highly recommend outsourcing this part to professional food truck designers (yep, that’s a thing!).
Adjust Your Menu
Food trucks usually already have a small menu and a much more focused concept compared to restaurants. You can take this even further and maximize your efficiency and revenue by building a Minimum Viable Menu (MVM).
It refers to a brief-er menu that balances profitable and popular items. This condensed menu allows you to only serve items that are cost-effective to make and easy to sell. For customers, this translates into shorter wait times, which obviously they love. You may also consider creating an exclusive item that is only available seasonally or during a certain festival.
Partner with Local Businesses
Many food trucks cross-promote their business with other local establishments that attend the same event. You can work with other food trucks that offer complementary items, like beer with your pizza, or tea with your Indian snacks. You can take advantage of their customer base this way as well.
Promote Your Food Truck As Much As Possible
There are a variety of ways to let all potential customers know that you will be at the festival – use them ALL. Your marketing strategy should include regular updates as to when and where your food truck will be, event-specific hashtags, promotion of user-generated content from your existing customers, and high-quality videos and photos of your food. Partner up with influencers to spread the word even more.
Here are a few ideas:
- Create a responsive, optimized website for your food truck business, if you don’t have one already
- Use email marketing and loyalty programs
- Use different social media channels like TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
- Send promotional text messages
Social media is a no-brainer in getting your name in front of all the foodies who will be attending the festival. Pretty much every successful food truck we know has a super active social media presence and you should too. Use it to post fun pictures of your menu before the festival, engage with regular customers who are excited about the event, tell people your truck’s location, promote event-exclusive items, and more.
Follow our Blog
FestivalNet contributors have been sharing their food truck experiences and tips for years on our Blog. Browse the articles to learn from the pros!
Looking for Information on Festivals and Fairs Near You?
Here at FestivalNet, outdoor events mean more to us than just a good time – we offer food vendors an opportunity to discover ways to turn their passion into a legit side hustle or even a profitable career. We do this by:
- Providing a comprehensive online directory of food events throughout North America, so you can quickly and easily plan your events.
- Providing educational materials to help you to sell and promote your offerings.
Consider joining our Free or Pro membership options to get started.