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2019 summer food festivals

Enjoy the bounty of delicious local foods

Delicious food is only part of what’s offered during the Chehalis Garlic Fest & Craft Show. Photo credit:

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One of my favorite things about the Pacific Northwest is how much better the food tastes. Words like fresh, local and farm-to-table epitomize the food culture in this area. One of the best ways to experience this is by visiting summer food festivals.

Hood Canal Shrimp Fest, May 25-26

This fun, family-friendly local celebration of Hood Canal Spot Shrimp takes place in Brinnon. A quirky, little festival, it features belt sander races (yes this is a thing) in addition to great shrimp and other local seafood, craft booths, exhibits, live music, and kids activities. There is a local RV park if you want to stay the weekend and the public beaches near the festival offer the opportunity to harvest clams and oysters (license required). Brinnon is about a 75-minute drive from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM).

Taste of Tacoma, June 21-23 

This local festival takes place at Point Defiance Park. Celebrating its 34th year, the three-day festival will feature over 40 restaurants as well as artisan and specialty food booths. Food varieties include Creole, Asian, European and American summer favorites like roasted corn and grilled burgers and hot dogs. There is live music scheduled throughout the event in the lovely, natural setting of Point Defiance Park.

Toledo Cheese Days, July 11-14

This four-day festival takes place in Toledo, which is a little over an hour south of JBLM. This event includes all kinds of activities such as a parade, car and motorcycle show, a cheese ball (like prom), and of course cheese tasting, wine and beer. Most events are on Thursday.

The Bite of Seattle, July 19-21

This fun three-day festival takes place on the site of the 1962 World's Fair at the Seattle Center. Enjoy live music and a variety of food and beverages in the midst of Seattle's iconic attractions such as the Space Needle. There will be over 60 restaurants, food trucks, and artisan and specialty food vendors. This large festival has a separate pavilion for beer and wine tasting. The live music will be across three separate stages, and new this year is a free Bite Movie Night Friday, July 19.

Insider Tip: Note both Taste of Tacoma and Bite of Seattle have discounted food and beverage packages available for early bird purchase with a limited number available, so purchase early to avoid disappointment.

Tacoma Food Truck Festival, July 21

The sixth annual Metro Parks Food Truck Festival takes place in Wright Park. This festival becomes more popular each year with great entertainment in a beautifully landscaped public park. There is a main stage, beer garden, and so far 17 food trucks confirmed for this year. This year's lineup has everything from donuts to Dim Sum and everything in between. It is the perfect introduction to the Tacoma Food scene. Insider Tip: Make sure to bring chairs or blankets for an alfresco picnic and set up near the stage. Once you have your base, venture out to the food trucks.

Chehalis Garlic Fest & Craft Show,
Aug. 23-25

This is the largest gathering of all things garlic in Washington state. The 22nd Annual Garlic Fest takes place at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds in August. This unique event pairs garlic with artisans, craft vendors and live music. Last year saw over 60 varieties of garlic (who knew there were that many) and very interesting garlic treats. You may have heard of garlic ice cream, but offerings also include garlic cotton candy, deep-fried garlic, chocolate-covered garlic cloves and many more both savory and sweet.

Bremerton Blackberry Festival,
Aug. 31-Sept. 2

This year celebrates the 30th year of the Bremerton Blackberry Festival at the picturesque Bremerton waterfront. Hosted by the local Rotary Club, the event is free and family-friendly. Stop by Blackberry Central, the information booth for the event, to purchase festival merchandise -- proceeds benefit the local community. Try everything blackberry to include pie, lemonade and slugs -- bar-shaped donuts with a blackberry filling and topped with whipped cream. A big hit, which sells out every year, is the blackberry wine bottled by Pasek Cellars of Mt. Vernon.

Start planning for some local fun from big city events to those with small town charms. There is such a prodigious variety of food in our area. JBLM is a short drive to the seafood bounty of the Puget Sound and many local farms. In addition to the food festivals, make sure to take advantage of the farm stands and farmers markets which kick off as the summer approaches.

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