Consider adding a summer festival to your travels or make one the focus of a getaway

By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Content Agency
Taking the Kids

Where are the giant turkey legs? There weren’t any at the Taste of Vail, Scott Evans told his disappointed 8-year-old son.

There were, however, every variety of delectable beef bites and tastings from nearly 100 top wineries at the Après in the Streets event last month. It showcased the “Nose-to-Tail Chef Challenge,” a group of 16 Vail and guest chefs going head-to-head in a culinary face-off featuring Colorado’s premier Fitch Ranch’s grass-fed, humanely raised beef. Chefs were given an unknown cut of beef and used their skills to create inventive dishes.

First place went to 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill and YouthPower 365, juniper berries and sambuca sirloin gravlax with potato waffles, yuzu caviar and micro greens; second place to Leonora, tongue and cheek salsa verde, lime crema, pickled onions, salsa roja and cilantro.

At the recent Vail Food and Wine Festival in Colorado
At the recent Vail Food and Wine Festival in Colorado

Not exactly kid-friendly food, though there were sliders, short ribs and in the Portuguese wine tent, yummy Portuguese custard tarts (Pasteis de Nata). Many families with their pooches crowded Vail Village; another food and wine event was held at the top of the mountain with bragging rights to being the highest elevation food and wine festival in the country. In its 32nd year, the nonprofit festival draws thousands from around the country. (Kudos to the dog- friendly Lodge at Vail where we stayed in the Village.)

Locals like Scott Evans and his family came to check out what local chefs were up to. Others, like Katie Upton and Stephanie Burns, had come from the East Coast for a quick gal getaway.“Anything food and wine is fun,” Upton said.

Summer, of course, is festival season and whether you take the kids or go while the kids are otherwise occupied, they are a great bet to experience something new, whether food, brews, music and more. Some last for weeks, others just a few days. Some are free, others charge, supporting nonprofits and community events.

AAA predicting roads will be packed this Memorial Day Weekend
AAA predicting roads will be packed this Memorial Day Weekend

Upcoming Memorial Day weekend typically signals the start of summer travel season, AAA projects 43.8 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the Memorial Day holiday travel period, an increase from last year and close to 2005’s record of 44 million Memorial Day travelers.

Consider adding a summer festival to your travels or make one the focus of a getaway. Just make sure you plan ahead for accommodations at some of the most popular ones.

Check out the free outdoor concerts in San Francisco’s parks and neighborhoods through the summer, including Golden Gate Park’s “Illuminate Live” concert series at the band shell and the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival.

Panoramic view of the Calgary Stampede at sunset.
Panoramic view of the Calgary Stampede at sunset.

The free, kid- friendly Smithsonian Folklife Festival takes over the National Mall in Washington, D.C., (this year June 26 to July 1) focusing on the indigenous voices of the Americas in celebration of the National Museum of the American Indian. There are always food demonstrations, music, and plenty of special programming for kids. Experience ancestral foods like the Three Sisters (beans, corn, and squash) and inventive, sustainable cuisine. Learn stories that underlie indigenous sports and games.

There will be a new Outside Festival in Denver’s Civic Center Park June 1 to 2 celebrating everything outdoors with live music, adventure films, gear demos, featured speakers, including athletes and adventurers, kid-focused activities from Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science, a climbing wall (and competition ), as well as accessible climbing experiences.

Travel back in time at Bonney Lake’s Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire just outside of Tacoma, which brings together pirates, elves, fairies and knights for five weekends, starting July 19. Each weekend offers a different theme. Get your costume ready!

Chicago Pride parade.
Chicago Pride parade.

June is Pride month with festivals and parades everywhere from San Diego to Seattle to Miami with most taking place the last two weeks of June. New York City’s LGBTQ history has served as the catalyst for Pride parades and festivals around the world. Millions of spectators gather every June (this year June 30) for the New York City Pride March. There is a Chicago Pride Fest June 22 to 23 that draws thousands, complete with local eats, arts and crafts, dancing and more.

In Branson, Missouri, Silver Dollar City’s award-winning Bluegrass & BBQ Festival (May 2 to 27) is all about music and eats. Besides top bluegrass bands, there will also be a chance to see up and comers with the new Youth in Bluegrass Showcase.

The Telluride Bluegrass Festival (June 20 to 23) in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado draws bluegrass artists and fans from around the country who also come to hike and bike. There is also a family tent for musical and educational activities.

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival (June 13 to 16), held on a 700-acre farm, brings together more than 150 musical performances in Manchester, Tennessee, about an hour’s drive from Nashville and Chattanooga.

The Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival runs June 20 to Aug. 18 in Franklin Square, where the Franklin Square Fountain Show dazzles with daily performances and dozens of huge handcrafted lanterns depicting animals, flowers and more. Celebrate with new illuminated displays, authentic Chinese food, cultural performances, the Franklin Square Fountain Show, and the memorable 200-foot-long dragon. Proceeds support many free Franklin Square events throughout the year.

Most of Calgary’s 1.6 million residents celebrate community during Canada’s Calgary Stampede. Turn up July 5 to 14 for bucking broncos, all varieties of food and the chance to try out your inner cowboy at one of the area’s many ranches. Don’t miss the Dog Bowl that celebrates an elite group of puppy athletes. Have you ever seen a pooch dance?

Pancake flippers at the pancake breakfast in Cheyenne,
Pancake flippers at the Frontier Days pancake breakfast in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Also touting Western culture is Frontier Days, which celebrates its 108th year in Cheyenne, Wyoming, (July 19 to July 28). It attracts a half million people to see championship bull riding, country music, art shows, Native American performances and more. Don’t miss the free pancake breakfast where volunteers serve up more than 100,000 flapjacks!

July means the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan, (June 29 to July 6) celebrating everything cherry and complete with carnival rides, pie eating contests, beach volleyball contests, an air show, kids’ bike race, a Great American Picnic with a cherry-inspired lunch and more.

How far can you spit a cherry pit? (The record is 95 feet and 6.5 inches.)

(For more Taking the Kids, visit and also follow TakingTheKids on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments. The fourth edition of The Kid’s Guide to New York City and the third edition of The Kid’s Guide to Washington D.C. are the latest in a series of 14 books for kid travelers published by Eileen.)

©2024 Eileen Ogintz. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.