Explore and celebrate the natural world this fall with festivals around Alabama honoring honey, homegrown mushrooms, and hominy grits.
Butterbeans and peanuts also get in on the act with their own long-running fall festivities. The National Peanut Festival in Dothan, set for early November, dates to 1938 when the guest speaker was George Washington Carver, the leading figure in making peanuts a viable commercial crop.
Grab extra napkins for these food-related festivals and dig in.
Alabama Honey Festival (Hazel Green)
The fifth edition is set for a new location this year, Winfred Thomas Agriculture Research Station in Hazel Green. It’s a gathering of beekeeping tribes; members of the Jackson County and Madison County beekeepers associations, and Under Clover Apiary at Alchemy Farm and Plants will bring “observation” hives for people to see bee habitat. Nearly three dozen vendors will sell food – including, of course, honey – crafts, and jewelry. Informational booths include Decatur’s Cooke Museum of Natural Science. It’s set for 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; organizers suggest people bring picnic blankets and lawn chairs. Free admission.
Alabama Butterbean Festival (Pinson)
Billed as the state’s second-largest festival, the annual gathering is the culmination of carnival week in downtown Pinson. The C&M Entertainment Carnival hits town Wednesday October 5 through Sunday October 8, with the Butterbean Festival set that Friday and Saturday. The festival’s 5k race (registration required) starts at 7 a.m. Saturday. Family fun includes food at the “knosh pit,” arts and crafts vendors, and a kids’ corner featuring pony rides. Keep an eye out for the festival mascot, Bucky Butterbean. A fireworks show is planned Friday, starting at 9 p.m. Festival hours are Friday 6 p.m.-11 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Festival admission is free; paid armbands are required for the carnival.
Alabama Mushroom Faire (Sylacauga)
The second annual fungi fete sponsored by the Alabama Mushroom Society provides an edible education. Learn about growing mushrooms at home, how to find prized wild chanterelles and forage other mushrooms, and even seeking out mushrooms that glow in the dark. Field forays including a night walk, and a daytime trek to identify mushroom-friendly trees. Camping and hostels are available (reserve them here).
A small number of food vendors will be on-site but festival-goers are encouraged to bring their own. They recommend downloading the iNaturalist app for foraging, and a UV light for the night walk. Tickets are $25 per person at the gate; $40 for a weekend pass; weekend pass and campsite are $65. Advance tickets also are available. Gates open at 9 a.m.
Gulf Coast Fungi Festival (Fairhope)
The festival at Weeks Bay Plantation in Fairhope features experts leading workshops on mushroom identification and related topics, as well as foraging walks. Music performances and arts and crafts vendors are part of the fun.
Day passes are $30 ($40 with parking). Weekend passes are $50 with no parking, $60 with parking, $100 with parking and a campsite, and $150 with an RV campsite. Order online. Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday; night walk begins at 9 p.m. and final workshop starts at 10 p.m. It starts at 9 a.m. Saturday; last band and night walk start at 8 p.m. Sunday hours are 9 a.m.-1 p.m., with a yoga session starting at 8 a.m.
Great Grits Cookoff (Prattville)
The 10th edition of the cookoff is a fundraiser for the Willis Bradford Branch YMCA’s Coach-A-Child scholarship fund. (The 2022 event raised some $330,000.) The event features bounce houses and vendors selling arts and crafts. In the grits cookoff, teams compete for prizes based on taste, presentation, and originality. The public votes with dollar bills for the People’s Choice award. The cookoff portion is set for 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The 5k starts at 8 a.m.
National Peanut Festival (Dothan)
It’s a gigantic tribute to goobers, down to the 24-foot-tall peanut statue that greets patrons attending the 10-day festival on the fairgrounds off U.S. 231. State-fair-plus rides and attractions are the centerpiece, along with agricultural expositions and special events like a car and truck show the first Saturday, and the calf scramble and greased pig races on Monday (Monday November 6). On Tuesday, all food is $2 off with minimum $10 purchase. A Veterans Day parade (Saturday November 11) is scheduled downtown at 9 a.m., with demolition derbies set for 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Festival admission is $10, prices for rides armband varies by day. The $30 Megapass includes a ride armband. Senior Citizen Day (Thursday November 9) is free admission to the first 10,000 attendees. Limited concert seating is available with a gate pass only; most seating is $10-$20. Order online.