Last Updated on September 29, 2022 by Jim Ferri
By Dave G. Houser
Cooling temperatures, changing leaves, and ripening fields are signaling that autumn has arrived, which means both the fall harvest and fall festivals season are here.
As farmers bring their crops to market, it is, of course, a great time to pack up the car and follow the sights, sounds, and smells to one or more of the thousands of celebratory harvest fests across the country.
Read on to discover our picks for the most colorful, fun, and delicious fall festivals of the 2022 season.
Harvest on the Harbor
Portland, Maine: October 27-29, 2022
October 27–29 is a perfect time to visit Maine, as the leaf-peeping season reaches its peak and Portland rolls out its annual fall festivals celebration of the state’s finest locally sourced foods, beers, and wines. As you may know, Portland has certainly enjoyed quite a renaissance in recent years. Its spiffed-up downtown and rockbound harbor district have attracted a host of top restaurants dedicated to perfecting the culinary art of preparing local, safely harvested seafood.
Harvest on the Harbor shines the spotlight on the city’s dining scene with various competitions and tastings featuring local foods from more than 150 chefs, breweries, wineries, and distilleries.
This year’s special events, for which you must be 21+ to attend, include:
Thursday, October 27 – Maine Lobster Chef of the Year Competition (tickets $100). New for 2022, there will also be 10 lobster stations, perfect for tasting and exploring the competing lobster dishes and meeting the chefs.
Friday, October 28 – Featuring Maine Distillers – try cocktails made with local gins, vodkas, bourbons, rums, and more, plus a variety of food pairings ($65).
Saturday, October 29 – Maine OysterFest 2022 – Slurp the choicest Maine oysters and meet the growers, enjoy drinks, and live music ($80)
The New York City Wine & Food Festival
New York, New York: October 13-16, 2022
Here’s the quintessential Big Apple celebration of fall, bringing together top celebrity chefs for a four-day extravaganza, October 13-16. It’s dedicated to all things eating and drinking. This year is the event’s 15th anniversary, and more than 400 chefs from around the world will come to participate in more than 80 events.
At this fall festival there’s even a Cocktail Showdown of bartenders around New York City, and a blind tasting of burgers from chefs around the city.
Participating chefs and personalities include Alain Ducasse, Dario Cecchini, Alon Shaya, Carlton McCoy, Lauren Von Der Pool, Yotam Ottolenghi, Dani García, Chintan Pandya, Sohla El-Waylly, Daniel Boulud, Kyle MacLachlan, Andrew Zimmern, Geoffrey Zakarian and many others.
Events take place at locations across the city and include a variety of tastings, seminars, intimate dinners, late-night parties, etc. There is a wide range of ticket prices that you can see here.
National Apple Harvest Festival
Arendtsville, Pennsylvania: October 1-2 and 8-9, 2022
Staged annually during the first two weekends in October, this fall festival has drawn huge crowds to Arendtsville, Pennsylvania. In the heart of the state’s apple-growing region, for 58 years it’s been a celebrated a tradition. It’s as American as, you guessed it, apple pie.
Festival-goers can join in on apple-picking, apple-bobbing, and pie-eating contests, drink fresh-pressed apple cider and savor applesauce homemade from scratch. Even if you don’t like apples, you can watch live music from six stages scattered around the 24-acre fairground site. And, of course, wander about the nearly 300 arts-and-crafts booths.
General admission tickets are $10 ($9 for 60 years+).
Cincinnati, Ohio: September 16-18, 2022
Another biggie – this is not only America’s largest Octoberfest celebration, it’s the largest in the world after Munich’s. It attracted 700,000 visitors to the streets of downtown Cincinnati last year.
There’s more than enough beer on hand to wash down all the brats, schnitzel, sauerkraut, and pretzels you can eat. In addition, there are plenty of fun activities. Visit this fall festival and you’ll find more than 100 varieties of beer and German-influenced dishes from over 30 food vendors.
The beer-stein race and bratwurst-eating contest are favorites, but the most entertaining event may be the Running of the Wieners. This hilarious match-up pits dachshunds in hot-dog-bun costumes in a 75-yard dash to determine the winning wiener.
The Warrens Cranberry Fall Festival
Warrens, Wisconsin: September 23 – 25, 2022
Wisconsin is the leading cranberry-producing state in America. This event in Warrens has undoubtedly grown to become the world’s largest cranberry fest with over 1,300 booths. It draws more than 120,000 visitors.
This year’s event, September 23-25, will once again be celebrated on the crowded streets of little Warrens (population: 580). It’s a celebration of the annual harvest of the tart and tasty red berries.
Visitors can tour the marshes, or bogs, where the berries are grown, eat cranberries prepared in every way imaginable. You can also join in several contests, watch a parade and cheer at the crowning of cranberry royalty. There are also many fall cranberry festivals held around the world. You’ll find a listing at Pick Your Own.
North Carolina Pecan Harvest Fall Festival
Whiteville, North Carolina: November 3–5, 2022
Columbus County, surrounding the hamlet of Whiteville, is one of the top pecan-producing areas in North Carolina. Naturally, that calls for a fall festival to celebrate the annual harvest.
This year’s event, November 3–5, will again feature a pecan parade, pecan-cooking contests, and the pecan queen coronation. Other events and activities in past years have included a 5K run, arts-and-crafts displays, and music from rhythm and blues bands.
Autumn at the Arboretum
Dallas, Texas: September 17–October 31, 2022
Autumn at the Arboretum was once named the number one “Trip to Put on Your Fall Bucket List” in the Dallas area by Orbitz Travel, this colorful celebration of the visual beauty of autumn will be underway from September 17 to October 31. Now in its 17th year, it’s the featured fall festival at Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The Arboretum / Garden is a nationally acclaimed 66-acre urban oasis on White Rock Lake, just minutes from the city center.
The festival’s highlight is the Pumpkin Village, an artful and imaginative arrangement of more than 100,000 pumpkins, gourds and squash set amidst a garden ablaze with 150,000 fall-blooming plants.
International Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque, New Mexico: October 1-9, 2022
As one might imagine, few sights are more exciting than the mass ascension of some 600 hot air balloons. And above a grassy mesa near Albuquerque, New Mexico that’s exactly what happens each year at this fall festival. Unquestionably, this is the world’s premier ballooning event that is held annually in Albuquerque of teh past 50 years.
Mornings offer the best climatic conditions for flying, so it’s a good idea to be on hand early to watch the Mass Ascensions at 7 a.m. each morning. Nightly, the glowing of balloons also creates quite a sight, with hundreds of balloons lit from within by their propane burners.
Tickets are $15 for each person (over the age of 12 years old) for each session. A session is one morning or evening visit.
Trailing of the Sheep Fall Festival
Ketchum, Idaho: October 5-9, 2022
This is certainly one of the most unusual fall festivals in the USA. It’s the tradition of driving of herders driving their livestock from summer pastures in the mountains to the valleys below for winter. Evidently, it got its footing in the Swiss Alps. And that’s what this unique Idaho event is all about. Ketchum- and Hailey-area ranchers herd their sheep down to Sun Valley each fall, culminating in a riotous festival, set this year for October 5-9.
The weekend’s highlight is a parade led by more than 1,500 sheep trailing down Ketchum’s Main Street. Visitors join the pandemonium and can also take in the Folklife Fair, the Wool Fest (popular with knitters and weavers), sheepdog herding trials, music, dance performances, and the ever-popular Lamb Dine Around and Foodie Feast.
Sonoma County Harvest Fair
Santa Rosa, California: October 15, 2022
Undeniably, grapes steal the spotlight at this famous fall Wine Country harvest festival, set for October 15, 2022. If you’re thinking of wine tasting, you won’t be disappointed. Still, the headline event is the World Championship Grape Stomp, which invites visitors to join in the traditional and always messy method of extracting juice from the grapes.
Fair events also include cooking competitions, musical performances, pumpkin carving, and even cow-milking lessons. Ultimately, however, you’ll want to make your way to the Wine Pavilion to taste the prize vintages from hundreds of Sonoma wineries.