Fall is full of festivals devoted to specific foods or beverages. But some cities and counties plan parties that showcase the breadth of their local restaurants, caterers, food producers, breweries, and distillers.

Shelby County and the cities of Hoover and Opelika will dish local specialties in September and October. Birmingham’s first Food+Culture Fest, also in October, is a multi-day food-lover’s dream come true with restaurants hosting guest chefs, cooking demos, and a giant tailgate party/tasting at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark.

Here’s what’s on their menus.

(Opelika Main Street/Facebook)

Taste of Shelby County

September 14

Nearly two dozen Shelby County businesses will offer samples at the event, set for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Inverness County Club. Ticket sales benefit the Shelby County Schools Educational Foundation, and this year’s goal is to raise $50,000. Advance tickets, available online through September 13, are $30 (plus fee); and $40 at the door. Participants, according to the Shelby County Reporter, include Inverness Country Club, East 59 Café, Eli’s Jerusalem Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Taziki’s Cafe, Gumbo to Geaux, Half Shell Oyster House, Royal Tea, Bistro ProVare, La Paz, Emily’s Heirloom Pound Cakes, and Siluria Brewing.

Taste of Hoover

October 5
Sample sweets and sushi, Mexican and Tex-Mex favorites, Nashville-style hot chicken, pasta, and barbecue under the stars at the Taste of Hoover, which showcases the diverse food available in Alabama’s sixth-largest city. Open from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Aldridge Gardens off Lorna Road, more than four dozen restaurants, bakeries, bars, and caterers are signed up. Beverage vendors include Brock’s Gap Brewing Company, Dread River Distilling, Chattanooga Spirits, and Bushwacker Spirits, as well as non-alcohol producers. Stroll through the city’s botanical gardens, and listen to musical performances. On-site parking is limited; shuttles run from the lot at Riverchase Shopping Center (Lorna Road at U.S. 31) outside the Bed Bath and Beyond building. Tickets, available online, are $45 for Aldridge Gardens members, and $50 for non-members. Availability is limited and the event regularly sells out.


Birmingham Food+Culture Fest

October 12-15

This inaugural multi-day event celebrates Birmingham’s diverse food scene, plus discussions and demonstrations from some 50 city chefs, cocktail specialists, and brewers. Plans include “Food+Friends” dinners, where chefs at nine restaurants host special guests (here is a schedule of dinners, guests, and reservation information), and separate dinners and demos showcasing the city’s Black chefs, women chefs, and area farmers. Other events include the presentation of the inaugural Frank Stitt Award for Industry Excellence on October 12 at the Birmingham Museum of Art. The “Food+Fire” tasting at Sloss Furnaces on Saturday features some 30 chefs and pit masters and more than a dozen local breweries, plus cooking demos, and musical performances. Tickets ranging from $75 – $150 depending on the event (not including fees), are available online.

On the Tracks

October 20

Sample wines and cheeses while touring shops in downtown Opelika at On the Tracks, which is organized by Opelika Main Street. Twenty stops are planned, plus musical performances, and food trucks. Tickets online are $40 (sales end October 19) for general admission, and $500 for a VIP tent with six tickets (sales end October 6).