If there’s one thing we Nebraskans love more than a good party, it’s good food. And when we can have them both together, well, that’s just a win for everyone. We’ve got all sorts of festivals happening all year around the state, and darn near all of them have something to do with food. We can’t list them all, but we’ve put together a solid list to get you started on Nebraska’s many food-related festivals. These are NOT ranked in any type of order – we love them all equally.
1. Rhythm & Ribs, Albion
This is the sixth year for this fun Albion festival. The one-day event features live music and more ribs than you could possibly hope to eat without getting a wicked tummy ache.
August 27, 2016
2. Pancake Days, Butte
Pancake Days takes over Butte for a few days in June, bringing with it tons of kids' and family activities as well as - you guessed it - free pancakes.
June 28-30, 2016
3. Capital City Ribfest, Lincoln
Celebrating all things pork, the Capital City Ribfest is three days full of ribs, beer, and music. And ribs. Lots and lots of ribs.
August 18-20, 2016
4. Central Nebraska Ethnic Festival, Grand Island
This festival was put on hiatus for a few years but came back full-force in 2015. You'll find three days of international music, cuisine, and activities, all meant to celebrate the diversity of Nebraska's people.
July 17-19, 2016
5. Duncan Ribfest, Duncan
This fun annual event is a dual fundraiser for the local volunteer fire department and the Youth Wrestling Club. With live music, a beer garden and toooooons of ribs (hmm, we're starting to see a pattern here), you know this will be a good time.
June 25-26, 2016
6. Swedish Days, Holdrege
This event celebrates the heritage of the Swedish population in Holdrege...plus it's a really good excuse to party. Enjoy the big parade and street festival before stopping on by the ribfest (you knew there was going to be one). Then sample some authentic Swedish cuisine while you watch some colorful cultural displays.
June 17-18, 2016
7. Kool-Aid Days, Hastings
Where better to celebrate this fruity, sugary beverage than its own hometown? Kool-Aid Days is, of course, full of family activities and lots of Kool-Aid sampling. Is it technically a food festival? Well, I don't know about you, but I used to eat the pre-sweetened powder right out of the plastic can when I was a kid, so I think we can count it as a food.
August 12-14, 2016
8. Nebraska State Fair, Grand Island
The state fair is about more than food, but let's get real for a second. The crazy fried food is at least 30% of the reason you go, right?
August 26-September 5, 2016
9. Applejack Festival, Nebraska City
Nobody celebrates the apple harvest quite like Nebraska City, the birthplace of Arbor Day. Get ready for a parade, a classic car show, street dances, and every type of food that can possibly contain apples in some form. SO. MANY. APPLES.
September 16-18, 2016
10. Strawberry Festival, Nebraska City
The Strawberry Festival at Kimmel Orchard celebrates everyone's favorite red berry with live music, hayrack rides, BBQ, and pick-your-own strawberries.
May 28, 2016 (Date subject to change depending on ripening dates.)
11. Bread 'N Jam Festival, Neligh
This unique festival celebrates Neligh's historic mill while providing a fun time for everyone who drops by. Highlights include a pancake feed, live music, farmers market, craft fair, and bake-offs for both kids and adults.
(2016 date unknown.)
12. Popcorn Days, North Loup
Did you know that Nebraska is the top popcorn-producing state? The people of North Loup know it, and they celebrate with a town-wide festival just popping with fun activities and events. There's a full-on carnival with rides, dancing, tractor pulls, a parade...and, most importantly, free popcorn! This festival is the longest-running one in the state, dating all the way back to 1901.
August 26-28, 2016
13. Beer and Bacon Festival, Omaha
More than just an excuse to indulge in two of the world's most fantastic treats, the Bacon and Beer Festival supports Wounded Warriors Family Support and the Omaha Jaycees. Located at The Old Mattress Factory, 501 North 13th Street.
August 13, 2016
14. Food Truck Rally, Omaha
This will be the first year for the Food Truck Rally in Omaha. Everyone loves food truck food, so this is one to get out and experience.
April 30, 2016
15. Ramen Fest, Omaha
Ramen is so much more than that hard brick of fried noodles you remember from your college days. Vendors do it up in style at this festival, and nobody leaves hungry.
October 2, 2016
16. Sweet Corn Festival, Omaha
Held at Lauritzen Gardens, this event celebrates the tasty goodness that is a fresh ear of sweet corn. Crafts, demonstrations, learning activities and tastings all make this a supremely fun day out.
August 13-14, 2016
17. St Patrick's Day, O'Neill
Food may not be the primary focus of this world-famous St. Pat's Day celebration, but that doesn't mean you won't find plenty of it anyway. This festival has already passed for 2016, which means you have almost a whole year to get geared up for the next one.
18. Oregon Trail Days, Gering
Now in its 95th year, the Oregon Trail Days festival celebrates the historic Oregon Trail in Nebraska. There are family activities, live music performances, a horseshoe tournament, and much, much more. Oh, and did we mention the barbecue, international food fair, festival foods, chili cookoff, and pancake feed?
July 7-10, 2016
19. Turkey Days, Oxford
This fun town-wide festival takes up three days and is more fun than you can shake a turkey leg at. There's a parade, carnival, BBQ, a water fight, and tournaments in mud volleyball and paintball.
June 16-18, 2016
20. Taste of Omaha
This is a big one for foodies. Vendors take over Heartland of America Park, Lewis and Clark Landing, and River's Edge Park (see? It's a BIG thing) to bring you tastes of their best dishes. This event can get expensive if you're looking to fill up, but you can always just sample a few treats while listening to the live music and enjoying the sunshine.
June 3-5, 2016
21. Testicle Festival, Ashland
The Testicle Festival at Round the Bend Steakhouse is a Nebraska institution. People come from all over to sample that bizarre delicacy, Rocky Mountain oysters...or bull testicles. People say they taste like chicken nuggets.
June 17-18, 2016
22. Watermelon Days, Thurston
You don't really need an excuse to celebrate the venerable watermelon, right? Thurston throws a huge party every year that takes over the entire town for a weekend. There's obviously watermelon to be eaten, but there are other less-healthy options as well (can you smell the funnel cake yet?).
Sometime in September - exact date unknown for 2016
23. Kolach Days, Verdigre
The self-proclaimed "Kolach Capital of the World" celebrates Czech heritage - and our incredibly delicious contribution to the pastry world - with a big annual party. There are cultural displays, a carnival, live music, parades, and various other awesome events.
June 9-12, 2016
24. Wayne Chicken Show, Wayne
Ok, we may be blurring the lines a little bit here, because the Wayne Chicken Show isn't celebrating the chicken as a food item. The town picked chickens as a festival theme because, in short, chickens are funny. That being said, you CAN find some delicious food at this wacky event - some of it even contains chicken or eggs. And where else can you see an entire town doing the Chicken Dance in unison?
July 8-10, 2016
We could go on and on and on, because every town in Nebraska has their own special event that makes it stand out. If your favorite isn’t already listed, go ahead and use the comments section to let everyone know about it!