If you're saving your appetite for a trip where the feasting's as crushable as the fallen leaves underfoot, put the pedal to these five seasonal southern food fests, where you can expect cajun boudin throwdowns, hot tamales, and eat-and-greets with your favorite NFL team (if you happen to live in Charlotte).
This Restaurant Reinvented the McGriddle
Euphoria September 26-29 -- Greenville, South Carolina Named for that feeling you get upon discovering that there's a chef here literally named "Bacon", and that pig roast dinners are chased by lamb roast after-parties, Euphoria's an open-air meat and music fest in South Carolina's second city, lining up an amphitheater packed with Nashville heavyweights and Brooklyn hipster chefs. Which hipster chefs? There's that one dude from Top Chef. Once you've digested: Jog, bike, or schlep your way along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. It's super scenic and stretches all the way to the artsy town of Traveler's Rest, if you're feeling intrepid.
Delta Hot Tamale Festival October 17-19 -- Greenville, Mississippi The only thing Mississippians love more than wearing pearls to tailgates are tamales, and this three-day Latin American street party's lining the block with all kinds of steamy awesome under a husk of southern corniness. And, if your band's not performing on one of the stretch's three main stages, your best bet for winning over Miss Hot Tamale is to win over the judges at the cook-off, or, way more likely, stuff your face with masa at the tamale-eating competition. If you're wondering what a Tamale fest's doing in the middle of Mississippi, here's the history. Once you've digested: This other Greenville's home to wetlands with excellent opportunities to hunt, fish, and hike. Make a week of it.
Taste of the Panthers October 18 -- Charlotte, North Carolina How are the Panthers already 0-2? Make sure it's not their diet, when you binge alongside the team on a stadium-sized feast from 20 local restaurants. Prep your waistline for all-you-can-eats from Wolfgang Puck, Emeril, and Krispy Kreme (?!); just make sure your mouth isn't full when you get a ball signed by the night's starting lineup of hosts. And you can even drink champagne in their locker room, just like a real player. Once you've digested: Sign yourself up for the NASCAR Experience and white-knuckle it in Jeff Gordon's old wheels.
Southern Ground Music & Food Festival October 19-20 -- Charleston, South Carolina There's two things you won't find at Zac Brown's take on the ultimate state fair: 98 Degrees, and wilted fried dough and corn dogs that look like they were cooked at 98 degrees. Instead, Southern Ground's a traveling sound and fury food fest that brings the country's biggest chefs from Chicago and... Utah?... together to serve up concessions like sloppy goat sammies and bruleed-to-order s'mores. Rock on to country stars like Willie Nelson, the feisty one from the Dixie Chicks, and Zac Brown (!) at Charleston's Blackbaud Stadium. Want free drinks and football in HD? There's a VIP ticket for that. Once you've digested: Catch a game at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. It's home to the Charleston RiverDogs -- a minor league baseball team that's an affiliate of the New York Yankees.
Boudin, Bourbon, and Beer November 8 -- New Orleans, Louisiana Because New Orleans doesn't have enough acclaimed chefs, 50 more are coming to town for Emeril's third annual sausage fest at the Foundry, dishing out every manner of the Big Easy's native smoked links. Make it even more entertaining by opting for the all-you-can-drink option on Abita and Buffalo Trace. Then, light up at a Nat Sherman tasting, and shake what you've got with the 610 Stompers. Did we mention there are loads of bands performing? Once you've digested: If you've fully digested, you've done New Orleans all wrong.