You don’t need me to tell you that food festivals have gotten exponentially better since the days when a foot-long corn dog was big news. You also know that, beverage-wise, music festivals aren’t just about bad beer in plastic cups that you hope someone doesn’t throw at your head. Still, the improvement is mind-blowing. Think Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Outside Lands in San Francisco. The only problem, besides getting into some of them, is deciding whether to describe these upcoming events as food festivals or music festivals. It’s your call.
Cultivate Festival; Denver, August 17
Food, ideas & music: That’s the tagline of this free, Chipotle-sponsored festival. For food, there are cooking demos from the likes of Top Chef winner Richard Blais and Chopped judge Amanda Freitag, plus lots of dishes such as soft tacos and gorditas. Musicwise, the L.A. band Cold War Kids is scheduled to headline. And then there are the ideas, which include the California Avocado Experience, and the Farm Facts Experience, which teaches about livestock (free-range versus confined, and more). This being Colorado, the craft brew scene will be off the hook, represented by the likes of Avery Brewing Co., Oskar Blues Brewery and Strange Brewing Co. chipotle.com/cultivate
Boston Calling; Boston, September 7-8
Boston is lucky: The town has already had one Boston Calling festival this year, in May. The food lineup for the fall edition is still a secret, so let’s talk about what happened at the spring show, which featured a roundup of the city’s best food trucks, including Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, the Shuckin’ Truck (lobster and scallop rolls, fish tacos, clam chowder) and Kickass Cupcakes (cupcake–ice cream sundaes). As far as the fall music lineup, Vampire Weekend and Passion Pit are headlining; Solange and Kendrick Lamar are scheduled to be there, too. bostoncalling.com
Petty Fest Nashville; Nashville, September 21-22
It might be easier to list the cool chefs who aren’t part of this subset of Nashville’s terrific Music City Eats festival, whose creators include Kings of Leon’s Caleb and Nathan Followill, and chef Jonathan Waxman. (Full disclosure: Food & Wine magazine is a sponsor.) The festival features chefs’ demos and panel discussions with Michael Symon, Tim Love, John Besh, Nancy Silverton, Ed Lee and Donald Link. On the 21st, you’ll also find the fourth annual Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers–dedicated Petty Fest, hosted by the Kings of Leon and the Cabin Down Below Band, with special guests. The website promises: “If you love Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers you’ll be in heaven. If you don’t, you will. Petty Fest will do you like that.” musiccityeats.com