Grits, smoked sausage, and sweet potatoes set the table for a unique lineup of October public gatherings this fall in central and south Alabama that celebrate food and drink.
The Alabama Mushroom Society’s first-ever festival will feed budding interests in the fruiting fungi that’s not only essential to nature’s cycle, but mighty tasty as well.
Sample beers and ciders in Tuscaloosa and wine in Opelika. Classic Alabama foods—grits, Conecuh sausage, and sweet potatoes—all get their moments in the sun. (October, after all, historically brings the least amount of rain to Alabama).
Here’s what to look for in October across central and south Alabama.
Tuscaloosa’s Black Warrior and Druid City breweries join more than a dozen Alabama beer-makers (plus a couple others with satellites in the Yellowhammer State) pouring samples at the Druid City Music Hall Beer Fest. Regional favorites plus breweries from Oregon and Wisconsin also are in the lineup. Tickets, $57.70 (with fees) and sold by Ticketmaster, include a tasting glass and souvenir t-shirt. Ages 21 and over only.
In its first festival, the Alabama Mushroom Society aims to spread the word about their favorite fungi and help build a database of safe-to-eat varieties that can be found in the state’s forest, fields, and home yards. The two-day event includes food made with mushrooms, foraging forays, classes, and vendors with mushroom-related products including blocks and logs to cultivate them. Tickets are $25 (12 and under free). Weekend passes are $40.
(Great Grits Cookoff/Facebook)
Run in the Nitty Gritty 5k race that morning, and build a hunger for the cook-off that follows, with teams vying for the best grits dish. Entry fees for the race, and admission ($5 each; $20 max for families) benefit the Prattville YMCA’s “Coach a Child” scholarship fund. Attendees rate the dishes by taste, presentation, and originality, with prizes for winners in each category; Team with most votes overall wins the “People’s Choice” award. Also planned are musical performances, arts and crafts vendors, and a children’s bounce house. It’s the ninth year for the festival, and seventh for the race.
A bake sale with all things sweet potato includes pies, fries, and casseroles benefits the Open Door Community Center, which opened in 2015 to help local seniors and youths. The fun includes music performances, children’s booths, games, train rides, and a bouncy house. Admission is free; $5 fee to enter the sweet potato pie-baking contest. (Prizes include bags of sweet potatoes and merchant gift cards.)
(Conecuh Sausage Festival/Facebook)
Co-host Evergreen Chamber of Commerce will have three stands selling Alabama’s most popular smoked sausage at the 19th Conecuh Sausage Festival. Featuring more than 100 arts and crafts vendors and a children’s play area, admission is free to the main event. Held at the Evergreen Regional Airport, entertainment includes the South East Regional Fly-In (SERFI) air show on Saturday and Sunday ($5 each day; 12 and under free), a nightly rodeo sanctioned by the Professional Cowboy Association ($10 adult and $5 child admission each evening), and a car show on Saturday (free admission).
A wine trail leads through the shops and galleries along Main Street in Opelika. Sample wines at more than two-dozen stops, enjoying music and food along the way. Admission information TBA.