The Midwest is known for a variety of things: cornfields, snow storms, and massive lakes. But if you take a closer look, you realize that each state in the Midwest has food that they are known for.
Hannah Agran, deputy food and features editor for Midwest Living, says the Midwest is notable for its variety when it comes to food. “The Midwest is interesting because there are very small pockets of speciality cuisine,” she says. “While tenderloin is special in Iowa and Indiana, for example, it’s not a thing everywhere else.”
Whether you’re munching on a deep dish pizza in Chicago or scarfing down a hotdish in Minnesota, there’s always something unique to try, and the Midwest never hesitates to celebrate. Here’s a look at some of the tastiest food festivals in the Midwest.
National Cherry Festival
Traverse City, Michigan (July 1-8)
Every year, Michigan boasts their famous cherry festival. Featuring all kinds of fruit dishes involving cherries, and simple cherry picking, this festival is a must for all cherry enthusiasts. This festival also features parades, a competition to crown the next Cherry Queen, and big music headliners like REO Speedwagon.
Not to miss: Cherry pie, made with the fresh-picked cherries from Traverse City, which prides itself on being the “Cherry Capital of the World”
Naperville, Illinois (June 9-11)
If you’re a barbecue addict, Ribfest is the festival for you. Featuring dozens of gourmet Chicago barbecue restaurants, Ribfest has everything from traditional baby-back barbecue to exotic dry rubs. If ribs aren’t your thing, you can choose from plenty of other options, ranging from family-style mac and cheese to spicy pulled pork. This festival also features local bands playing your favorite summer hits and local vendors selling jewelry and knick-knacks.
Not to miss: BBQ Lakeview’s pit-smoked barbecue sandwiches, voted #1 by Ribfest goers
Minnesota State Fair
St. Paul, Minnesota (August 24-September 4)
While not technically a food festival, the Minnesota State Fair is known for their legendary dishes. In fact, many people frequent the fair every year purely for the food. Known for their treats on a stick, the Minnesota State Fair features everything from corndogs (“Pronto Pups”) to teriyaki-flavored ostrich. If it’s a food, they can add a stick to it. Being a state fair, this event also has plenty of rides, music, and art, so you’re guaranteed never to get bored.
Not to miss: If things on a stick aren’t your shtick, be sure to check out Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies, freshly baked from the oven and sold in mass quantities daily. You can even get some fresh milk from the “All You Can Drink” milk stand, which goes through about 25,000 gallons a year.
Banana Split Festival
Wilmington, Ohio (June 9-10)
Got a sweet tooth? Get your sugar fix at the Banana Split Festival. With lots of combinations of ice creamy deliciousness, this is a great festival for kids, as it also features inflatables, pony rides, and even a petting zoo.
Not to miss: The build-your-own banana split booth, which has endless combinations for your dream banana split
Adel Sweet Corn Festival
Adel, Iowa (August 12)
It wouldn’t be the Midwest without a corn festival. Featuring roughly 15,000 ears of corn all cooked and consumed within the same day, this festival also features baked goods and special events like a 5K.
Not to miss: Fresh, sweet corn on-the-cob, straight from Adel, Iowa