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Vintage month: Food and wine festivals not to be missed

Late-summer celebrations of food and drink in Alabama showcase beer, wine, barbecue, seafood, steaks, and sweet potatoes. It’s the start of a busy festival season across the region and here are gastronomic gatherings set for September.

(Crush Wine and Food Festival/Facebook)

St. William Seafood Festival (Sept. 1-2)

Guntersville

The Labor Day tradition, a fundraiser for St. William Catholic Church, is now in its 53rd year. Known for its gumbo, the festival offers separate menus for drive-through and dine-in. The drive-through, open Friday 4-6 p.m., and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. until sold out, has hot or frozen gumbo by the quart and Cajun boiled shrimp by the pound. Dine-in, which opens at 10:30 a.m. both days, features those items, plus catfish or chicken dinners, and hot gumbo by the pint. The good times roll at the Foley Center in Guntersville.

Sweet Tater Festival (Sept. 3-4)

Smith Lake Park

This is Cullman’s Labor Day tradition, a celebration of all things sweet potato. Expect arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment, games, kid rides, and food with plenty of tater options. The annual car show features just about anything on wheels – cars, trucks, and bikes. Admission is $5. Hours Sunday are 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Monday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Camping, pavilions, cabins, motor home hookups, and boat ramps are available at the park.

Bernard Blues and BBQ (Sept. 9-10)

Cullman

More than $3,000 in prize money is on the line at the cookoff, sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. Judges will rate chicken and ribs, while people’s choice awards are on the line for wings. The Grand Champion takes home $1,000, and $500 goes to the Reserve Grand Champion. The fundraiser for the St. Bernard Abbey preparatory school also features musical performances and handmade artisan products.  Food includes pulled pork, hamburgers, bratwursts, ribs, and chicken. Admission is a $10 requested donation; children 12 and under are free. Located on the abbey grounds, it’s open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. both days. Discount admission to the Ave Maria Grotto is available.

Alabama Wine Festival (Sept. 16)

Attalla

Explore the grounds of Wills Creek Vineyards and Winery, and sample the wares from vintners across Alabama. Music and food trucks round out the event. Tickets each day are $30 sold online (ends Sept. 14), and $40 at the gate; designated driver wristbands are available at the gate for no charge. Attendees also may buy directly from the vintners.

Sizzle and Smoke (Sept. 22-23)

Decatur

Mosaic Mentoring of North Alabama hosts this Steak Cookoff Association-sanctioned competition, which is open to any SCA member. Cash prizes are available in the following categories:  the triple steak cookoff, ribs, dessert, and a cocktail made with Jack Daniel’s whiskey. The grills fire up on both days, and food trucks will be onsite. Saturday features a car show. Admission is free for the two-day event, set for Ingalls Harbor.

Crush Wine and Food Festival (Sept. 23)

Huntsville

VIP ticket-holders get an hour’s head start for the festival, open for general admission from 1–5 p.m. at Big Spring Park West. Sample dozens of wines, whiskeys, and other spirits; nosh on food by chefs from Alabama, Nevada, Ohio, and North Carolina; and enjoy demonstrations from mocktails to chocolate. Tickets to an exclusive tasting Friday evening are $125 each. General admission tickets on Saturday are $100 and include swag bags; VIP general admission is $175.

Previously featured in SoulGrown

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