That fast-food chain with the excitable, deep-voiced pitch man has nothing on these fall festivals in Alabama. WE have the meats – in this case shrimp, barbecued chicken, smoked pork, and sausages.
All of these festivals are fun ways to fill your belly and have a good time with the fam. And you’ll get to sample Alabama’s best foods prepared by Alabama’s best cooks – from chefs to ’cue masters.
Grab your bibs, program the GPS, and let’s roll.
National Shrimp Festival (Gulf Shores)
The 50th edition features the popular crustacean cooked every which way – boiled, steamed, stewed, fried, and more. Run by the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, more than 250,000 people are expected over the four-day event. Musicians perform throughout each day on two stages. Fun also includes food by dozens of vendors, arts and crafts, children’s activities, and sand sculpture contests. Hours: Thursday – Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free.
Scottsboro BBQ Festival (Scottsboro)
Backyard barbecue contest offers $3,250 in total cash payouts. Sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society and the Alabama BBQ Association. Backyard BBQ competition features chicken and ribs. The winner in each category gets $300, and the grand champion takes home $700. The People’s Choice competition includes Boston butts or dessert. The cornhole contest carries a $150 top prize. Dogs compete in the Barq-Off Dog Parade. Other attractions include a Witches Ride, car show, and kids fun zone. The beer garden is for ages 21 and over. Located on the downtown square, hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. General admission is free.
Conecuh Sausage Festival (Evergreen)
For the eighth year, Evergreen celebrates Alabama’s most famous smoked sausage with a multifaceted gathering at Evergreen Airport. Admission is free to the general festival, which features more than 100 arts and crafts vendors, food purveyors, and a children’s area. It is set for 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission to the car show (open 9 a.m-2 p.m.) is $25. The festival is in conjunction with the Middleton Field South Eastern Fly-In on Saturday and Sunday (admission is $5 for ages 13 and up; $10 for families). A rodeo ($5 for ages 12-2; $10 for adults; 2 and under free) starts at 7:30 p.m.
Elberta German Sausage Festival (Elberta)
Garlicky beef and pork sausages for the festival are made exclusively by Farm Fresh Meats of Robertsdale. Accompanying the grilled sausage is German-style sauerkraut, cabbage and potato salad, goulash, red beans and rice, plus typical fall fair fare. Other attractions include some 200 arts and crafts vendors, carnival rides, polka dancing, and music ranging from traditional German to modern country. The annual fundraiser for the Elberta Volunteer Fire Department is held twice yearly (the other is in April). Founded by German immigrants in 1904, the city has a great motto: Fur das gute leben – For the good life.
Railyard BBQ and Music Festival (Madison)
Four-person teams compete in either the “Shade Tree” category (pork ribs and chicken), or the Master Series Sanctioned Contest (ribs, chicken, pork butt and beef brisket). Admission with fees and tax is $25.27. Music is by the Jimmy Henderson Trio, Andy Beckey, Alyssa Palmer. Children’s activities are provided. Patrons get free barbecue with paid admission.
Experience the Oyster (Gulf Shores)
The Hangout hosts this bivalve bonanza for the second year. Chefs from throughout the South prepare samples, and do demos. Alabama oyster farmers share their stories (and harvests), and Lane Zirlott of Murder Point Oysters hosts a farm learning experience. Oysters are served raw and cooked on the half-shell. You might find some in gumbo. A special guest, Stalekracker (Justin Chaisson), makes the festival jambalaya. Bands will perform and football will be broadcast on a big screen. It launches with a VIP party at Zeke’s Restaurant. Tickets sold online are $90.07 with fees and tax for general admission (includes 10 tasting tickets), and additional packs of 10 tasting tickets are $48.97 with fees and tax. VIP tickets are $236.79 with fees and tax. Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (VIPs get in an hour early.)