Best Food, Wine and Smoke Fests for Fall 2017

By Carolina Jenison on January 27, 2018

Just because your parents made you go on all those fall foliage trips as a kid, don't let the autumn months scare you: The post-summer season is one of the best for traveling. The fidget spinner-playing, sidewalk-spreading tourists have largely gone back to their tract homes, and the weather in most destinations is mild or, in the case of NYC, borderline perfect. Whether staying local or jet-setting to a sexy locale, peg your fall adventure to one of these exciting fests happening around the globe.

Celebration of Food and Wine
Rancho Palos Verdes, California
September 22 to 23

If ever there was a time for Angelenos to venture into the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Terranea Resort's Celebration of Food and Wine would be it. Now in its fourth year, the two-day festival features a series of ticketed events that include the Taste at Twilight bartender challenge, the Breakfast at the Cove picnic, a three-course farm-to-fork dinner and co-occurring lunch events that focus on Central Coast cuisine and California pinot wine. In addition to the food and wine, a major highlight is the view from the upscale resort perched on the oceanfront cliffs overlooking the Pacific. 

Bud & Brew Music Festival
Reno, Nevada
September 23

The Silver State legalized recreational cannabis last November, and Reno has responded with its inaugural Bud & Brew Music Festival. Unfortunately, the state law currently does not allow for on-site cannabis consumption, and the police apparently have nothing better to do than attend the riverfront fest to make sure no one does. Will that stop the fine folks in Reno from lighting up? We doubt it, especially with a musical line-up that includes Pato Banton, Tribal Theory, Mojo Green, Smoked Out Soul, Afrolicious, Treedom and other cannabis-friendly acts. For those who don't smoke the sensimilla, the event will host a beer village with local craft brewers. 

Taste of Iceland
Brooklyn, New York
September 28 to October 1

Iceland hosts one of the strangest food festivals in the world with a menu that includes rotten shark carcass, congealed sheep's blood, seal flippers, whale blubber and cured ram testicles. Fortunately, the Taste of Iceland is not this. The four-day event highlights Icelandic cuisine with a four-course dinner by chefs Viktor Örn Andrésson and Andrew Whitcomb and drinks by Kári Sigurðsson, as well as a film festival, fashion designer discussion, literature event, music night and art exhibit. Maybe you're not looking to cop Björk's look on a regular basis, but Halloween is coming up. Plus, this writer visited a store in Reykjavik that sold whale penis wallets, so who knows what the event has in store. The 2014 World Drug Report reportedly claimed that Iceland had the highest number of cannabis smokers per capita—can you believe it?—so make sure to elevate first for the full Icelandic experience. 

Okanagan Wine Festival
Okanagan Valley, Canada
September 28 to October 8 

Sitting between Vancouver and Calgary in the west, the 112-mile Okanagan Valley is filled with fruit orchards, vineyards and a string of shimmering lakes. This makes it an ideal place to host a wine festival, and Okanagan now hosts one each season. The summer event is the youngest at five years, but the fall fest is the original that started 37 years ago. The 11-day festival features wine tastings, farmers' markets, a "fall flavors" tour, a young chefs competition, a winery estate cooking class, stargazing and even a Thanksgiving brunch (turkey day falls on October 9 in Canada).  

Cannabliss Retreats
Joshua Tree, California
September 28 to October 2

Yoga, sound baths, vaping, gourmet edibles and mama nature all come together in the Joshua Tree desert for a five-day holistic experience that empowers people to incorporate cannabis into an overall wellness lifestyle. Attendees can ride a mellow vibe with meditation, bonfires and creative workshops, though Cannabliss will also feature fire performers, hiking, karaoke, a gypsy tent and DJs spinning electronic nuAge dance. Sure, the event would be way cooler with wellness guru Heather Hoffman, but it's hard not to be intrigued by the idea of a stoned yoga enthusiast doing karaoke by a bonfire.  

The West Virginia Roadkill Cook-Off
Marlinton, West Virginia
September 29 to 30

For those who think House Speaker Paul Ryan is too progressive, we've got a food festival for you! At the Roadkill Cook-Off, past dishes include teriyaki-marinated bear, possum burgers, squirrel gravy over biscuits and award winners like Thumper Bumper Over Grits, Catch Yer-Self a Huzband Burger and the You Hit ’em…We Spit ’em Iguana Nachos. Worried about all those raccoon calories? Work up a sweat at the Rockin’ Redneck Square Dance, or check out live music sets by Mudhole Control and Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys. There's even a roadkill beauty pageant that includes a grandma division. Then again, this is the South, so maybe some of the grandmas are still in their late 30s. 

The Great Midwest Harvest Festival
Madison, Wisconsin
September 29 to October 1

Don’t let the name fool you: This harvest fest has nothing to do with wine, cheese or traditional farming. Now in its 47th year, this activist gathering is about the cannabis harvest and repealing prohibition. The 2017 lineup includes several state representatives and bands like Ifdakar, The Pine Travelers, Flowpoetry and Gary David & the Enthusiasts, while past performers included Natty Nation, Bongzilla and DJ Kayla Kush. 

Hudson Valley Garlic Festival
Saugerties, New York
September 30 to October 1

The Hudson Valley claims to have the oldest U.S. winemaking region, and while numerous wine festivals take place here, try something different with a pre-Halloween garlic binge. The local agriculture is highly regarded, and the two-day event includes numerous garlic bulbs, vendors and farmers, though we're guessing you'll need to bring your own indica-dominant Garlic Bud or Lemon Garlic OG. Saugerties is two hours from Manhattan. 

Indie Spirits Expo
Chicago, Illinois
October 3

With the Vegas and NYC dates behind it, the Indie Spirit Expo finishes the year at the Chicago Hilton. This annual tasting exclusively showcases independent alcohol companies serving small-batch spirits like scorpion-spiked mezcal, solera-aged bourbon, vodka made from sugar beets and George Washington-recipe rye whiskey. This year, Dutch distiller De Borgen will serve its gin-precursor genever, and Deadwood Bourbon will introduce a new rye, while spirit artisans Samson & Surrey will showcase popular brands like Widow Jane (10-year whiskey made in Brooklyn), Few Spirits (midwestern bourbon, rye and malt) and Brenne (whiskey from Cognac, France). The Chicago event will feature more than 150 distillers pouring more than 600 different spirits. Obviously the samples pack more punch than a wine tasting so pace yourself, choose wisely and definitely don't arrive on an empty stomach. These were PRØHBTD’s thoughts on a past NYC event. 

Austin City Limits Music Festival
Austin, Texas
October 6 to 8 and 13 to 15

The most liberal city in Texas hosts the state's best music fest. Held over back-to-back weekends, ACL has an all-star lineup that includes Jay Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Killers, Run the Jewels, the XX, Skepta, Chance the Rapper and Gorillaz, among others. The event also features a solid culinary lineup that includes your standard generics paired with edgier food purveyors like Salt Lick BBQ, Tamale Addiction, Shake Shake and Skull & Cakebones. Texas is a messed-up state for cannabis aficionados, and while security at ACL tends to be more open, the police will still bust you so hide that hash.  

Maine Vocals Harvest Fest
Harmony, Maine
October 6 to 8 and 20 to 22

Set over two weekends in a state that legalized recreational cannabis in 2016, the Maine Vocals Harvest Fest features camping, vendors and a long list of music acts that include Sticky Greens, Revibe, Stream Reggae and Mr. Soul. The festival takes place in Harmony, a quiet town in the middle of the state that, oddly enough, served as a filming location for the 1990 movie Graveyard Shift (based on a story by Maine novelist Stephen King of It fame). The state boasts gorgeous nature throughout, which should be especially colorful in the fall. 

Alba International White Truffle Fair
Alba, Italy
October 7 to November 26

White truffles only appear for two months each autumn, and most can only be found in Italy, notably in Alba near the border with France. Now in its 87th year, the Alba International White Truffle Fair is the most popular place to celebrate the rare white tuber. In addition to a white truffle marketplace, the Alba International includes wine and food tastings, special restaurant menus, cooking demos and the medieval Donkey Palio parade. If you love truffles, you probably have expensive taste and can afford the plane ticket to Piedmont. 

Desert Daze
Joshua Tree, California
October 12 to 15

Last year, the LA Times said Desert Daze is "no Coachella, but this Joshua Tree festival may be the music model of the future." Inspired by 1960s music fests, the four-day event is a camping, drugs and music extravaganza with a mind-expanding lineup that includes Spiritualized, Panda Bear, Iggy Pop, Eagles of Death Metal, Ariel Pink, Death Valley Girls, Drugdealer, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Twin Peaks and dozens more. Desert Daze also hosts a Mystic Bazaar with sound baths, shamanic ceremonies, plant walks, yoga and mystics. 

New West Summit 3.0 
Oakland, California
October 13 to 15

New West Summit 3.0 comes to Oakland for a bigger, brighter experience focused on technology, media and investment. Speakers include George Clinton, Jason Silva, Steve DeAngelo and Tracy Ryan, while panels include topics like "What the Cannabis Industry Can Learn from the Craft Beer and Wine Industry" and "The Cannabis Allure - A Corporate Exodus Into Cannabis." Talking about the expo last year, New West founder Jim McAlpine told PRØHBTD, "Call it a consumer-minded business showcase of the entire industry. What we've done is create a show that's focused on the future of what cannabis is versus all the other shows focused on what cannabis is right now."

Spannabis Madrid and World Cannabis Conferences
Madrid, Spain
October 13 to 15

The Spanish capital's biggest cannabis events take place together at Pabellón de Cristal of Casa de Campo in the heart of Madrid. The original Spannabis takes place in Barcelona, while the Madrid spinoff enters its seventh year with an all-starlineup of speakers like Carola Pérez (Spanish Medicinal Cannabis Observatory) and Dr. Guillermo Velasco (Complutense University of Madrid) and events like a hemp beer and hemp pastry tasting. The event will also feature music performances and an art zone.  Meanwhile, the third-annual WCC includes seminars on pain, cancer, quality of life, CBD, sex and a Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum program on edibles with chef Xavi Petit. The famed museum will also—for the first time—have its own Spannabis stand presenting the exhibit La Hierba de las Maravillas focusing on traditional and contemporary uses of the cannabis plant. Their stand will also feature highlights from their current exhibits Cannabis Cuisine and music-centric The Pope Smokes Dope.

Perugia, Italy
October 13 to 22 

Now in its 24rd year, EuroChocolate is an annual celebration in a medieval walled town in central Italy. The event includes samples, vendors and sculptures that, in the past, included a four-ton chocolate igloo. More than a million people are expected to attend over the 10 days. The event will feature a music theme for 2017, which is arguably less fun than 2015's chocolate mustache (the organizers obviously never heard of Urban Dictionary). Italy is seen as one of the next European countries that might legalize cannabis, so maybe we can expect an edibles theme in the future? At the very least, let's start with a Défoncé chocolate station!

Harvest on the Harbor
Portland, Maine
October 17 to 22

Maine voted to legalize medical cannabis in 1999, while Portlandia East voted to legalize recreational cannabis in 2013… with nearly 70 percent of the vote! As already mentioned, Maine legalized recreational cannabis last November, and the Harvest on the Harbor in Portland is the perfect place to find a local hotel, light up and enjoy some of the best trawl-to-table dishes the Pine State has to offer. The individually ticketed events include Flavors of Maine, Harvest Happy Hour, Market on the Harbor and the immensely popular Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition. These events sell out so don't delay. 

Peter Tosh Music Festival
New Kingston, Jamaica
October 19 to 22

The second-annual music festival returns to the Peter Tosh Museum with live performances and the presentation of the Peter Tosh Awards. This year's line-up includes Word, Sound and Power—Tosh's backing band after his time in the Wailers—as well as Tosh's son Andrew and granddaughter Jahzarah. Ringo Starr offspring Zak Starkey, who currently hits the skins for The Who, will also perform, along with several other acts. Museum co-founder Kingsley Cooper says of the event, "[Peter Tosh's] struggles for equal rights and justice and the legalization of marijuana have had an impact around the globe," which epitomizes the idea that the festival is about more than must good music. Like the "Legalize It" singer himself, the fest is about social and spiritual enlightenment. 

Fantasy Fest
Key West, Florida Keys
October 20 to 29

Tired of Mardi Gras in the Big Easy? Head south to Key West instead for 10 days of island-centric hedonism at the Fantasy Fest free-for-all. Hurricane Irma might make 2017 a more toned-down affair, assuming it's not canceled altogether, but activities typically include homemade bikini contests, body paintings, the let-it-all-hang-out parade and parties like Adam & Eve at the clothing-optional Garden of Eden rooftop bar. With this much nudity, you might need to break out that ʼ80s fanny pack to hold your room key and Haze V3 vaporizer. Florida is technically the South, but this is the party where the buckle breaks off the Bible belt. 

EastSide Food Festival
Los Angeles, California
October 22

Silver Lake is a culinary hot spot in Los Angeles with restaurants like Night Market + Song, Sawyer, Alimento, Cliff's Edge and Trois Familia. The neighborhood also hosts the EastSide Food Festival, a mix of rising and ruling top local chefs, hailing from restaurants like Cosa Buona, Homestate, Mh Zh and Go Get 'Em Tiger. The 2017 festival, which previously featured artisan edible company Lord Jones, will host a Cannabis Corner add-on and a Cannabis 101 cooking demonstration with Brandin LaShea, the new host of Pot Pie, and Luke Reyes (9th Street Ramen). The 2017 event will take place at Mack Sennett Studios, a top photography studio, soundstage and event space that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. 

Suwannee Hulaween
Live Oak, Florida 
October 27 to 29

The String Cheese Incident’s annual Sunshine State party comes around Halloween at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Smack dab in the Alabama-esque part of the state, it draws hippies from all over the Southeast for three days of jam and funk performances. The crowd leans towards college-aged music fans, so there’s a healthy dose of rock and EDM that includes Bassnectar and Portugal. The Man this year. The camping-only festival includes a temporary art installation with a regular display of lit-up alien statues along with trippy modern exhibits. Add that to a tradition of outlandish costumes, and you've got the wildest weekend you could hope for in the Florida panhandle. 

CannaGrow Expo 
Denver, Colorado
October 28 to 29

Growers, sellers and enthusiasts come together in Denver to discuss and develop the best practices, techniques and tools for growing cannabis. The two-day event focuses on the art and science of modern grows, and it includes more than 75 exhibitors and 25 cultivation-focused sessions helmed by leaders in the grow field. 

Day of the Dead
Janitzio, Mexico
October 31 to November 2

Día de Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is a UNESCO-honored holiday to honor and remember deceased loved ones, but some places turn the somber occasion into a rave-from-the-grave. The Carnival-like celebrations can include candy skulls, papier-mâché skeletons, mock coffins and mariachi music, and the most elaborate event arguably takes place on Janitzio, an island on Lake Pátzcuaro between Mexico City and Guadalajara. Other top spots include San Miguel de Allende, Morelos and Mexico City. 

Marijuana Business Conference & Expo
Las Vegas, Nevada
November 14 to 17

As one of the biggest events in the cannabis space, the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo will draw 14,000 cannabis professionals and nearly 700 exhibitors to Sin City. Former Tesla and Apple exec George Blankenship, White House correspondent Kenneth Walsh, James Beard Award-winning chef Mindy Segal and Minority Cannabis Business Association co-founder Jesce Horton are among the 100+ speakers at the expo. 

Art Basel Miami
SoBe, Florida
December 7 to 10

Art Basel in Miami is a total clusterfuck, so try to score a hotel near the action in South Beach, but art lovers will endure the crowds to see the finest pop art and interact with the creative talent behind it. Expect 70,000 visitors and more than 200 leading galleries from around the world presenting artwork from more than 4,000 different artists. Keep an eye out for the private parties. 

David Jenison ( is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD.

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