Summer is fast approaching, and when we think about what the season evokes, we think outdoor festivals, BBQ, ball games, patriotism and good old-fashioned Americana. To celebrate the start of summer, we set out to find the nation's best patriotic attractions, 4th of July festivals, ballpark foods, main streets and BBQ festivals.
For the past four weeks, 10Best and USA TODAY readers have been voting daily for their favorites in each category. The polls have closed, the ballots have been counted and we have our winners.
Click on each category below to see the entire top 10 list.
Among the biggest free-entry barbecue festivals in the nation, the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off (August 31-September 5) features two dozen of the best barbecue competitors and 240,000 pounds of ribs. The event will also include a craft market, kids area, beer garden and several stages where some 40 bands will play live.
The main street in Emporia, a railroad town founded in 1857, is Commercial Street. This thoroughfare is home to the Emporia Granada Theatre, a movie palace constructed in 1929 that now hosts concerts, movie screenings and special events. Throughout the year, Commercial hosts a variety of events, like the Taste of Emporia and Glass Blown Open in April, Dirty Kanza Bicycle Race in June and The Great American Market in September.
Mary Ross Waterfront Park in historic downtown Brunswick hosts the annual Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration, a free event that includes free games and activities, free South Georgia watermelon and a free 30-minute fireworks display over the East River and Oglethorpe Bay.
Although it was not just one night that led patriots to take matters into their own hands to begin a fight for freedom, it was the continued lack of freedoms and representation that brought about the Tea Party. At the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, visitors can relive the catalyst to the American Revolution and see memorabilia from the time and event. The museum holds insight into America's path to becoming a free country.
Melt Bar and Grilled brings their innovative twists on the classic grilled cheese sandwich to hungry fans at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians. The Parmageddon is a grilled cheese made with sharp cheddar and stuffed with a potato and onion pirogi, sauteed onions and Napa vodka kraut.
Congratulations to all our summer winners! Remember to check back often to vote in new categories.