Live music, blue-ribbon bovine, the sweet smell of corndogs, and the Ferris wheel lights looming overhead—it’s the stuff memories are made of. No summer would be complete without a visit to the fair and, since summer festival season is in full swing, we’re stepping up to help you seize the moment. Whether it’s the country’s largest state fair or a celebration of pirates, this list of fairs and festivals across the Southeast and beyond has something for everyone. Mark your 2022 calendars!
Note: Be sure to check the fair and festival websites for any price, date, location, or event changes or cancelations.
North Alabama State Fair – Muscle Shoals, AL (September 12-17, 2022)
From a demolition derby to a Little Red Wagon contest and parade, the North Alabama State Fair knows what a party looks like. Stop by during its six-day run to visit non-profit and commercial booths, eat some food, and see the different shows.
Grand Bay Watermelon Festival – Grand Bay, AL (July 3-4, 2022)
The Grand Bay Watermelon Festival is one of the sweetest (pun intended) free events Alabama has to offer. A Fourth of July tradition since 1973, this family-friendly festival gives visitors the opportunity to sample locally grown watermelon while enjoying live music, arts and crafts, and children’s activities. Even better: you can get all the free sliced watermelon your heart desires if you visit on July 4, the festival’s main day.
Fulton County Fair – Salem, AR (July 20-23, 2022)
We have a feeling Fulton County may be home to Arkansas’ best cornhole players, and they’ve had tournaments in past years to crown a champion. Visit during the four-day stretch to eat great food and see which animals take home top prize in their respective contests.
Rodeo of the Ozarks – Springdale, AR (June 22-25, 2022)
One of the largest annual outdoor rodeos in the United States will put on another show this June. The Rodeo of the Ozarks draws some of the roughest and toughest cowboys and cowgirls from around the country. Gates open nightly at 5:30 p.m., and the grand entry begins an hour later. Stick around for all seven Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) events and marvel at the skill on display.
For ticket information, please visit rodeooftheozarks.org.
National Championship Chuckwagon Race – Clinton, AR (August 27-September 4, 2022)
Clinton, Arkansas, is home to one of the most unique festivals in the entire southeast. For one week only, visitors from all over can take in the National Championship Chuckwagon Races. In addition to this unique spectacle, visitors can also watch traditional rodeo events, like bronc riding and barrel racing.
Tickets are $35 per day for adults or $20 on Sunday.
The Johnson County Peach Festival – Clarksville, AR (July 2022)
Now known as the oldest festival in the state, the Johnson County Peach Fest is sure to lure you in with more than just the sweet nectar of its fruit. Touting a banana split contest, diaper derby, greased pig race, and lip-sync contest, there’s definitely something for everyone, even if you’re not a fan of the fruit.
Annual Cave City Watermelon Festival – Cave City, AR (July 28-30, 2022)
Free admission, free entertainment, and ALL of the watermelon…what could be better? This festival is in Cave City for a reason – they pride themselves on growing the sweetest watermelon in the world. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal if you ask us!
Vero Beach Pirate and Caribbean Festival – Vero Beach, FL (September 17-18, 2022)
This Florida festival turns your swashbuckling dreams into reality. We bet you thought you’d never be able to hunt treasure with pirates, huh? Think again! Head to Vero Beach in September, and you can enjoy a celebration centered around mermaids, pirates, and all things nautical.
Lobsterfest – Key West, FL (August 11-14, 2022)
This annual event kicks off the opening of Lobster Season in true Key West fashion–with a street party! A true “crustacean celebration,” the festival includes a lobster boil and a lobster brunch, but there’s also a free concert and other activities that non-seafood enthusiasts can enjoy too.
Redland Summer Fruit Festival – Homestead, FL (June 25, 2022)
When temps start to soar, nothing is as refreshing as tropical fruit. Held just south of Miami in Homestead, FL, the Redland Summer Fruit Festival is a celebration of all the sweet stuff that grows on South Florida’s trees. There’s even a children’s area where kids can pet farm animals, ride ponies, and try their hand at a watermelon-eating contest.
SharkCon – Tampa, FL (July 16-17, 2022)
Take a deep dive into the underwater world of sharks at SharkCon. This family-friendly event features shark and aquarium exhibits, virtual reality experiences, touch tanks, sand digs, and speakers from Shark Week, National Geographic, and Animal Planet. Rumor has it you might even be able to catch a glimpse of mermaids! Shark-Con is the perfect hands-on, interactive activity for kids.
Tickets are $19.95 for adults and $5.95 for children ages 3-14.
Atlanta Ice Cream Festival – Atlanta, GA (July 23, 2022)
I scream, you scream, we all scream…for a festival about ice cream! While you can certainly count on enjoying a cone or two of your favorite flavor, you can also expect to learn a new fitness routine, listen to live music, and take part in family-friendly health and wellness activities! Satisfy your sweet tooth without overloading your blood sugar at this creamy, dreamy, summer fest.
Georgia Peach Festival – Fort Valley & Byron, GA (June 3-4 & 11, 2022)
Looking for family-friendly free events in Georgia? You can’t miss the Georgia Peach Festival, held over two weekends every June in Peach County, GA. The Georgia Peach Festival draws more than 9,000 visitors every year. Plan to visit on the final Saturday morning of the festival to marvel at the World’s Largest Peach Cobbler. At 11 by five feet and about eight inches deep, it’s the highlight of the festival!
Admission is free.
Macon Film Festival – Macon, GA (August 18-21, 2022)
Did you know more top-grossing films are made in Georgia than anywhere else in the world? The Macon Film Festival celebrates Georgia’s movie-making scene while hosting dozens of screenings for independent films made around the globe – all shown in historic theaters and cool venues throughout town. In addition to film screenings, the festival also features celebrity guests, panel discussions, and workshops, and it culminates with an award ceremony.
Delcambre Shrimp Festival – Delcambre, LA (August 17-21, 2022)
Boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, shrimp salad, and the blessing of a shrimp boat fleet—the Delcambre Shrimp Festival is one of Louisiana’s largest celebrations of all things shrimp. If you come hungry, you will not leave disappointed.
Red River Balloon Rally – Shreveport, LA (June 24-25, 2022)
Enjoy fireworks, live music, and the enchanting sight of dozens of brightly colored hot air balloons guided by the best pilots from all over the United States. The US Team Nationals is a week-long event, but the week culminates in the Red River Balloon Rally held on June 24th and 25th.
Satchmo Summer Fest – New Orleans, LA (August 6-7, 2022)
Celebrate the life, music, and legacy of Louis Armstrong at Satchmo SummerFest in New Orleans. The multi-day festival, held at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, features tons of live music (traditional jazz, contemporary jazz, big brass, and more!), great food, and seminars led by well-known jazz and music scholars.
Choctaw Indian Fair – Choctaw, MS (July 13-16, 2022)
This celebration of Choctaw heritage and culture features food, crafts, music, and World Series Stickball. The championship game tops off the fair when adoring fans fill the Choctaw Central High School football stadium to cheer on their team.
Mississippi Comic Con – Jackson, MS (June 25-26, 2022)
Calling all comic book fans! Mississippi Comic Con is a two-day event held at the MS Trade Mart in Jackson, MS. It’s an affordable, family-friendly event that brings together a variety of vendors, artists, and fan groups under one roof for tons of comic book fun. Enter the cosplay contest, catch a panel discussion, and get your picture taken with special guests!
Admission is $30 per day for adults in advance or $40 per day at the doors. A full event pass can be purchased in advance for $50 or at the doors for $70. Kids ages 10 and under get in free with a paid adult.
The Neshoba County Fair – Philadelphia, MS (July 22-29, 2022)
Nicknamed “Mississippi’s Giant Houseparty,” the Neshoba County Fair was established in 1889 and originally started as a platform for politics. Now, it’s grown into one of the state’s largest fairs to date, featuring everything from great live music to every ride and fried food imaginable.
Festival of Nations – St. Louis, MO (August 27-28, 2022)
St. Louis’ Festival of Nations showcases the diverse cultures present all around the city. The multi-day event gives residents an opportunity to learn history, meet new people, and listen to new music.
Missouri State Fair – Sedalia, MO (August 11-21, 2022)
This picturesque state fair is steeped in tradition and boasts big-name performers. In the past, Def Leppard, Styx, Gary Allan, Alabama, The Fray, and more have performed at the event’s main stage.
RiverFest – Asheville, NC (Mid to Late Summer)
For years, RiverFest has showcased live music, local beer, and great food in downtown Asheville. You can also put your creativity and ingenuity to the test in the Anything that Floats Parade. Participants are tasked with creating vessels out of literally anything that floats and sending them down the French Broad River.
Coon Dog Day Festival – Saluda, NC (July 9, 2022)
No, that’s not a typo. Unlike CORN dogs (delicious), COON dogs are a type of hunting dog (please don’t eat), and the town of Saluda celebrates them every year with a quirky street festival. This one’s definitely for pet lovers. All dogs, coonhounds or not, are invited to attend.
Summertime Brews Festival – Greensboro, NC (July 16, 2022)
You can find food trucks, live music, and more than 400 beers from around the globe (including a huge selection of local North Carolina craft beers!) all under one roof at the Summertime Brews Festival in Greensboro, NC. All attendees receive a souvenir glass to keep, and proceeds from the event benefit animal rescue and fostering programs. Have fun, but remember to drink responsibly.
For ticket information, please visit summertimebrews.com.
Festival Latino – Columbus, OH (August 13-14, 2022)
Enjoy live music and entertainment from local, national, and international artists and dance groups at Festival Latino. It’s one of Central Ohio’s premier cultural and artistic gatherings, and better yet, it’s a family-friendly free event! There’s even dancing in the streets! Head downtown to Genoa Park to join the festivities.
Cleveland Garlic Festival – Cleveland, OH (August 27-28, 2022)
Celebrate all things stinky at the Cleveland Garlic Festival. Held in Shaker Square, this festival is a foodie’s paradise, featuring cooking competitions with some of the region’s best chefs, live music and entertainment, craft beer, and garlicky dishes like garlic fries and garlic ice cream. The Cleveland Garlic Festival is stinky fun for everyone!
Adult admission is $10, senior (65+) admission is $5, and child (4-12) admission is $5. Children under 4 get in for free.
South Carolina Foothills Heritage Fair – Oconee County, SC (September 20-24, 2022)
Watch the dirt and dust fly at the draft horse pull or opt for a more tame setting at the 4-H Dog Obedience Show. This old-fashioned upstate fair features all kinds of four-legged critters, live music, and family fun.
Adult admission is $5 (Tuesday-Thursday) or $8 (Friday-Saturday). Children (Grades K-12) can get in for $3 (Tuesday-Thursday) or $5 (Friday-Saturaday).
Beaufort Water Festival – Beaufort, SC (July 15-24, 2022)
There’s nothing as idyllic as summer in the Lowcountry. Every year, more than 100,000 visitors head to the Beaufort Water Festival in Beaufort, SC, a sea island off of the Carolina coast. The seaside celebration offers summer fun for all ages. There are bocce ball, badminton, and toad fishing tournaments, plus an air show, a boat parade, an arts and crafts market, and live music.
Admission to the Beaufort Water Festival is free. Live music and other entertainment carry a fee ranging from $10 to $30 per event.
Summerfest – York, SC (August 26-27, 2022)
Historic York, South Carolina, will host its famous Summerfest again this August. Summerfest is a celebration of all things summertime, with a plethora of food and crafts vendors, a car show, live music and entertainment, fun runs, model airplane flies, a petting zoo, inflatables, and tons of other kid-friendly activities.
Tennessee State Fair – Lebanon, TN (August 18-27, 2022)
Just outside of Music City, you may catch a glimpse of country music’s next big star at the Wilson County Fair. Experience live entertainment and participate in one of many competitions. Or take in the rides and eat delicious fried foods. You really can’t go wrong.
Tomato Art Fest – Nashville, TN (August 12-13, 2022)
Tomato Art Fest is a family-friendly free event held every August in the historic Five Points neighborhood in Nashville, TN. Tomato Art Fest is a two-day celebration of art, live music, food, and fun. You can see hundreds of tomato-inspired works of art on display – it’s the Tomato Art Fest, after all. But if you aren’t a die-hard fan of this beloved fruit (or vegetable), don’t worry: the neighborhood transforms into an open-air market where hundreds of artists and makers have their stuff on display. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities too, plus a bloody mary garden party for grownups.
Second Bell Fest – Knoxville, TN (September 30-October 1, 2022)
Held on the banks of the Tennessee River in Knoxville, TN, Second Bell Fest is a celebration of all things arts and entertainment. Billed as the kind of place where you can find your new favorite band, restaurant, boutique, and comedian all in one day, this festival is truly an artistic oasis.
Nashville Hot Chicken Festival – Nashville, TN (July 4, 2022)
Hot chicken is famous in Nashville, so it’s no wonder that this poultry dish has its own festival. In fact, the Nashville Hot Chicken Coalition (yes, it’s a thing) has a great slogan: To Protect and Burn. (Not something you hear every day, eh?) Give your tastebuds some heat in the 4th of July heat.
State Fair of Texas – Dallas, TX (September 30 – October 23, 2022)
Everything really is bigger in Texas. Standing at 55 feet tall, Big Tex® welcomes visitors to the largest fair in the country. Since 1886, the event has put Texas agriculture on display by educating the community and allowing them to get involved in family-friendly entertainment. So stop by one day, or buy a season pass, and enjoy the spectacle.
Parker County Peach Festival – Weatherford, TX (July 9, 2022)
This festival packs a summer’s worth of fun and food into one day with the Peach Pedal Bike Ride, live entertainment, children’s activities, and over 200 arts and crafts and food vendors.
Camp Nowhere – Austin & Dallas, Texas (June 10-11, 2022)
Camp Nowhere is one of the most cosmically cool music festivals in the South. Gather around with your friends as you groove to some of the best EDM acts under the Texas night sky. This year’s bill is split into two nights, with the first evening in Austin and the second in Dallas.
Tickets start at $39.50.
Float Fest – Gonzales, TX (July 23-24, 2022)
Can’t choose between floating the river (a Texas pastime) and seeing your favorite bands in concert? Do both! Float Fest combines live music with tubes and water, making for one cool combination on two hot summer days. This year’s event features Marshmello, Vampire Weekend, Chance The Rapper, and more!
Carytown Watermelon Festival – Richmond, VA (August 14, 2022)
The largest one-day festival in the state of Virginia, the Carytown Watermelon Festival features more than 3,000 watermelons, more than 100,000 festival-goers, 100+ exhibitors, and 80+ musicians to take the stage for a day you won’t soon forget.