Food festivals have certainly come a long way in the past few years. No longer are they sparsely attended fringe events popping up in hotel ballrooms. Festivals in the year 2015 are star-studded affairs, complete with heady promises of once-in-a-lifetime meals and coveted VIP ticket packages that cost north of $1,000. Food Republic is here to point you toward the most exciting festivals, from this summer through the end of the calendar year, and from coast to coast.

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party
June 13-14
New York, NY
Enjoy smoky, meaty goodness from some of the most acclaimed pitmasters in America, all for the benefit of the Madison Square Park Conservancy. Dishes include chopped whole-hog sandwiches with baked beans from Mississippi’s Brad Orrison, lamb brisket with borracho by Texas’s Tim Love and pork spare ribs with pickled peppers via New York’s Jean-Paul Bourgeois. It’s a win-win(-win) situation.

Food & Wine Classic in Aspen
June 19-21
Aspen, CO
Glitz, glamour and food come together in Aspen for the annual Food & Wine Classic. Rub elbows with and learn from the likes of Food Republic cofounder Marcus Samuelsson, Andrew Zimmern and David Chang. The best part? It falls on Father’s Day this year, so everyone and their dad will be there.
SAVEUR’s Summer Cookout
June 23
New York City, NY

Summer’s all about taking advantage of the beautiful weather while cooking and eating outdoors. Join over 20 of the country’s best chefs and mixologists including Ivan Orkin, Sarah Simmons, Christina Tosi and Alex Guarnaschelli, in celebrating the start of the season. Tickets go for $99 and includes access to all food and drinks.

Taste of Chicago
July 8-12
Chicago, IL
Celebrating its 35th year, the world’s largest outdoor food festival offers over 200 dishes for attendees to feast on. The five-day event also features a number of live musical performances, including one by this year’s headliner, Weezer. Hopefully they’ll bring more than just pork and beans to the Windy City.

Drink and take in cocktail professionals’ knowledge at the annual Tales celebration in New Orleans.

Tales of the Cocktail
July 13-20
New Orleans, LA
Spirits are calling from NOLA for all to network and learn at this annual event that’s essentially the industry’s biggest and most important of the year. There will be various seminars, tastings, product launches, competitions and networking events throughout the week, with professionals like Danny Meyer, Dale DeGroff, Julie Reiner, David Wondrich and Food Republic columnist/cohost Simon Ford. All proceeds from the events go to scholarships, financial aid and tuition reimbursements within the industry.

Maine Lobster Festival
July 29 – August 2
Rockland, ME
Tucked away in this small Maine town, the Lobster Festival offers over 20,000 pounds of the prized shellfish. There’s also a crate race where competitors race on top of lobster crates in the ocean and a seafood cooking contest. Famed singer and songwriter Don McLean will be on hand to belt out a couple of tunes.

Bite of Oregon
August 7-9
Portland, OR
It’s all local here at the Bite. At the center of it all is the Oregon Bounty Chef’s Table, where festivalgoers can meet whoever grew, raised or caught the food served on their plates. With 51 breweries operating in Portland, rest asssured that there will be some local brews to accompany all those bites.

Austin Ice Cream Festival
August 8
Austin, TX
Eat (and scream for) as much ice cream as you can at the You Scream Ice Cream Screaming competition. Ten dollars will get you tickets to redeem for concoctions by three local creameries, but don’t worry: Some booths will hand out the sweet treat anyway.

Seattle Street Food Festival
August 15-16
Seattle, WA
The country’s largest food-truck festival hosted 87,000 attendees over three days in 2013. This year, the festival will feature food trucks, pop-ups, beer gardens and the “al fresco dining experience” of a pop-up picnic. Picnic ticket holders get the chance to judge ten street-food-inspired dishes from emerging Seattle chefs. The winner will recieve a percentage of ticket proceeds to donate to their choice of charity. The lineup has yet to be announced, so stay tuned.

Long waits won’t be a worry of yours while you dine on the best food San Francisco has to offer.

Eat Drink SF
August 20-23
San Francisco, CA
Priding itself on short lines and ample breathing room, Eat Drink SF encourages attendees to “feast with all of your senses.” With over 30 featured restaurants — not to mention a cheese cave — the festival introduces eaters to chefs of Michelin-starred restaurants as well as up-and-coming individuals from the city’s “underground dinner royalty.”

World Food & Music Festival
September 18-20
Des Moines, IA
Now in its 10th year, the World Food & Music Festival focuses on the rich and culturally diverse environment of Des Moines. Food vendors and cooking demonstrations feature Cajun, Filipino, Israeli, Ethiopian, Laotian and Korean cuisines, just to name a few.

Get up close and personal to chefs in Nashville as you try their classic dishes at the Chef Showcase.

Music City Food and Wine
September 19-20
Nashville, TN
A five-hour Grand Tasting is just the tip of the iceberg at this showcase of the best that Nashville’s impressive food and music scenes have to offer. Demos and tastings offer a chance to hear from renowed local and national chefs. The Kings of Leon will be curating the tunes while speakers including Andrew Zimmern curate the food portion of the weekend.

Chefs for Farmers
October 24-25
Dallas, TX
Applauding the hard work and beautiful relationships between chefs and farmers in Texas, ethics, sustainability and eco-consciousness are at the center of this festival. To get chefs excited for the event, the grassroots organization even sent charcuterie plates as save-the-dates. Now that’s our kind of festival.

More about festivals on Food Republic: