Each year starts out with the Forks and Corks Food and Wine Festival, which is held in January. Local and international chefs, restaurateurs and wine makers gather each year to spread their culinary expertise. Try samples of some of the best wine around and learn how to pair it with your favorite meals, or you could even take a class and learn to make the wine yourself. Venue and ticket information can be found at www.freshoriginals.com/forksandcorks.
You won’t have to wait long before another festival is underway. The Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival is held the third week of February each year and offers about 25 food vendors, art and live entertainment for the thousands of people who attend. All this food and fun serves a purpose: to support the commercial fishing industry. For more information, visit www.cortez-fish.org/fishing-festival.html.
The Fishing Festival isn’t the only festival where sea cuisine is common. The DeSoto Seafood Festival features just that: seafood, although several musicians perform and plenty of activities for the whole family. The festival is held each year in April and trolleys are available to shuttle patrons to and from their cars. For the full line up at this year’s festival, visit www.desotohq.com/events/seafood-festival.
Rhythm and ribs, can you think of a better combination? This festival, also held in April, features all sorts of BBQ-ers hoping to show off their recipes. As for the “rhythm” portion of the festival, there will be a variety of bands that play country, jazz, blues, R&B and rock. General admission tickets cost $15 and can be purchased at www.gulfcoastribfest.com.
Several eateries, many of them exclusive to the Bradenton-Sarasota area, come out each year for the Taste of Manatee Festival to offer visitors samples of their finest food. Aside from the typical entertainment, this festival also offers live dancers, cloggers and cheerleaders. Find out the scoop on this year’s festival, which is held in November, at www.tasteofmanatee.com/index.html.
Last but not least is the Suncoast Food and Wine Fest, held each year in mid-November. More than 300 wines will be available for visitors to sip on while enjoying live music, a fashion show, cooking demonstrations and a live auction. Tickets are $60 and can be purchased at www.suncoastfoodandwinefest.com.