Almost every community in America has some sort of 4th of July celebration. Most of us tend to be traditional and do the same thing, with the same folks, each year. I know our family does and when we miss (for whatever reason) even one of the three days of our annual celebrations, we definitely feel at a loss.
BUT . . .
Just in case you're looking for something a little different or unique to do this weekend, maybe one of these food-oriented events will catch your fancy.
Have you ever tried running a race with a greased watermelon in your arms ? Think you can? Well grab a partner and get on down to the Grand Bay Watermelon Festival in Grand Bay, Alabama on the 3rd.
Getting back to the race, it involves one person on the team running from the starting line to the turning point with the greased melon in their arms. At that point, they hand the melon over to their teammate who runs it back to the starting/finishing line. Team to do this first wins. Oh, and if either of you drop the melon, your team is disqualified.
Looking for something less strenuous? You can buy three seeds for a dollar and try to beat the Guinness record for watermelon seed spitting. That record currently stands at 68' 9 1/8" and was set in Luling, Texas. (Bet you've always wondered about that.) Of course, there's a watermelon eating contest involved, too. You can also decorate your clothes with watermelons or create a watermelon recipe for prize opportunities.
There's also shopping, music and lots of food available as well as other run-of-the-mill festival activities. Best of all, you can cool off with free watermelon slices all day!!
I've witnessed both blue crab and tortoise races here in Maryland, but clam races are a new concept for me! There are also clam shucking competitions, cooking contests - both amateur and professional restaurants, clam bag races (like potato sacks but the bags feature pictures of clams), a clam hunt and harvest for the kids, contest, "Guess the Clam Count"Chuck a Mullett competition on the beach and a Clam Lease (greased) Pole challenge at the Clamerica Celebration in Cedar Key, Florida on July 4th.
For the Cultured Clam Cooking Contest, open to everyone, contestants simply need to bring their finished dish and a copy of the recipe to the entry table at the given time. Prizes will go to 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Honorable Mentions.
Do you think you make the absolute best cherry pie? Then make it up, be sure to provide a copy of the recipe or at least a list of the ingredients and bring it down to the Holiday Old Fashioned Picnic on the 6th, just one of the food events at the 84th National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan taking place from the 3rd through the 10th. One entry per person and there is a $5 entry fee involved.
In addition to an air show by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels on the 4th and concerts by a number of nationally known acts like Los Lonely Boys, Tommy Castro and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, there's the 5th Annual Cherries D'Vine event, a ticketed culinary showcase of regional fruits - cherries and grapes. There will be an array of salads, entrees and desserts like Chocolate Cherry Mudslide Cookies and Cherry Cobbler (made from Michigan cherries.)
The Cherry Connector - "Bringing Together Festival, Family and Fruit", will take place twice each day from the 5th through the 9th. You can use the Cherry Connector Shuttle or your own transportation to take a 3-hr tour of a 100 acre research farm associated with the Michigan State University. You'll visit a productive orchard, see exhibits and sample the newest cherry products and technology. there will be all sorts of "cherry fun" for the kids like a petting zoo, hands-on experiments and cherry coloring contests. There will be several; semi-finals of a Hot Dog Eating Contest featuring Johnsonville sausages and leading up to the finals on the 9th.
Other events will include a Cherry Pit Spitting contest (daily), an Adult Cherry Pie Eating contest and a CHERRYOPOLY Tournament. An Ice Cream Social, beer tent and wine tastings each day will lead up to the Cherries Grand Buffet (another ticketed event) showcasing recipes prepared by the culinary and cooking professionals at the Grand Traverse Pie Company and featuring a stage and musical show. There will be all the standard festival events and entertainment available, also.
Happy Thanksgiving, Serious Eaters! - With the Thanksgiving preparation madness winding down, and the cooking madness about to begin, I have to take a moment to reflect on the many, many things...