Photo courtesy of iStock / Aleksandr_Vorobev
These 10 food and/or wine festivals support a range of nonprofit organizations that champion a variety of causes, from ending childhood hunger to preserving fragile ecosystems. Pack your appetite – and your stretchy pants! – and drink and eat for the greater good.
Photo courtesy of Big Sur Food and Wine Festival, Monterey County Conventions and Visitors Bureau
Big Sur Food and Wine Festival – California
The culinary riches and acclaimed wineries of Monterey County, California are given the spotlight at the Big Sur Food and Wine Festival, a mouthwatering, three-day event held in the fall. The event supports numerous local nonprofits focused on health, safety, education and the arts. Past benefiting charities include Big Sur Health Center, Henry Miller Memorial Library, Mid-Coast Fire Brigade and Ventana Wildlife Society.
Photo courtesy of Mobile Baykeeper
Bay Bites Food Truck Festival – Alabama
When you attend the Bay Bites Food Truck Festival in Mobile, Alabama, you’re protecting the Mobile Bay Watershed and the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, one of the most biologically diverse wetlands in North America. Local food trucks, craft beer and live music on the waterfront in downtown Mobile are the hallmarks of this festival. Organized by Mobile Baykeeper, Bay Bites is typically held during the summer months.
Photo courtesy of Meritage Resort and Spa
Cabernet Classic – California
Cabernet Classic celebrates the cabernet sauvignon varietal with tastings, dinners and expert panels. This three-day event takes place in Napa Valley, California, at the Meritage Resort and Spa, a hotel with an enchanting vineyard and numerous tasting rooms on the property. Festival proceeds are donated to SommFoundation, an organization that helps the next generation of winemakers and sommeliers perfect their trade with scholarships and enrichment.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Campbell Photography, Country Inns in the White Mountains
Mount Washington Valley Inn to Inn Cookie and Candy Tour – New Hampshire
In need of a new holiday cookie recipe? Self-proclaimed as the longest-running cookie tour in New England, the Mount Washington Valley Inn to Inn Cookie and Candy Tour invites holiday revelers to sample cookies and candies – and collect recipes at various historic inns. Held every December, a portion of tour proceeds benefits End 68 Hours of Hunger, a nonprofit that feeds children who otherwise would go hungry over the weekend when they don’t have access to school lunches.
Photo courtesy of Craig Stone for Naples Winter Wine Festival
Naples Winter Wine Festival – Florida
Typically hosted in January, the Naples Winter Wine Festival, in Naples, Florida, is a lavish weekend of sipping wine and enjoying great food with the world’s top vintners, sommeliers and chefs. Since 2001, more than $244 million has been raised for charities that support the physical and emotional wellbeing and education of underprivileged and at-risk children. The festival’s live auction often features luxury travel packages to dream destinations in Europe, California’s wine country and the Caribbean.
Photo courtesy of Paul Broussard for New Orleans and Company
New Orleans Wine and Food Experience – Louisiana
New Orleans has one of the most recognizable regional cuisines in America and a legendary restaurant scene. The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, held in the summer, is a showcase for the city’s delectable dining offerings. Over the past 30-plus years, the festival has raised more than $1.5 million for nonprofits that promote culinary education and food security. Beneficiaries have included the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute and Café Reconcile, where at-risk youth learn the skills they need to succeed in the food service industry.
Photo courtesy of Food Network and Cooking Channel, New York City Wine and Food Festival
New York City Wine and Food Festival – New York
Rachael Ray and France’s Jacques Torres are among the culinary giants who come to the Big Apple for the star-studded New York City Wine and Food Festival. This event offers a little of everything, from master cooking classes to intimate dinners with celebrity chefs. The festival has raised millions of dollars for hunger-relief charities.
Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Santa Barbara Wine and Food Festival – California
The Santa Barbara Wine and Food Festival is sponsored by and benefits the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. The summertime event gathers the area’s best wineries and food purveyors along the banks of the museum’s shaded Mission Creek. Guests sip, swirl and savor, knowing that festival proceeds support the museum’s nature and science educational programs.
Photo courtesy of Taste of Buffalo
Taste of Buffalo – New York
Taste of Buffalo is a two-day event that showcases the best of Buffalo’s food truck and restaurant scene and New York state wineries. Try regional dishes, such as beef on weck and sponge candy. Taste of Buffalo raises scholarship money for college-bound students committed to studying hospitality and the culinary arts.
Photo courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism
Yarmouth Clam Festival – Maine
The Yarmouth Clam Festival serves up much more than clams. It’s a celebration of Maine’s bounty of bivalves and crustaceans. Often held in July, the coastal Maine town of Yarmouth comes alive with a parade, live music and carnival rides. The Yarmouth Clam Festival raises money for more than 35 local nonprofit organizations.