For those of you seeking family-friendly summer fun, we've identified the 10 best family festivals throughout the United States.
Kids getting ready to make cherry pie — Photo courtesy of National Cherry Festival
1. National Cherry Festival (Traverse City, Michigan; June 19-July 6): The National Cherry Festival's annual attendance of a half-million people and 80-year history vouch for the nation's love of cherries. Go for cherry pie, cherry lemonade and other cherry-inspired food as well as activities for all ages. Preschoolers can give the Big Wheel race a whirl while seniors try their hand at shuffleboard. Live music, the crowning of a Cherry Queen, a parade, a pit spitting contest, and more are on offer throughout this extremely popular 8-day festival.
2. International Surf Festival (Manhattan Beach, California; July 31-August 4): Lovers of sand, surf and sun unite. Not only does the International Surf Festival celebrate beach cities in Los Angeles County, it's a tribute to physical fitness between sand soccer, surfing, swimming from pier-to-pier and other competitions spread throughout this section of SoCal coast. Participants range from ages 10-80.
3. Summerfest (Milwaukee, Wisconsin; June 26-30/July 2-7): Summerfest is the world's largest music festival with almost a million people in attendance over 11 days. Set on the shore of Lake Michigan at Henry Maier Festival Park, this festival offers amazing food, shopping, hands-on exhibits and, of course, 11 stages with live music.
4. Banana Split Festival (Wilmington, Ohio; June 7-8): Of course, there are make-your-own banana splits, a banana split eating contest and other culinary favorites from the 50s and 60s at the Banana Split Festival. However, there's also a classic car show, baseball tournament, 5K run and even a masters competition where renowned chefs demonstrate their take on the classic dessert.
Northern Califiornia Pirate Festival — Photo courtesy of r3v || cls
5. Northern California Pirate Festival (Vallejo, California; June 15-16): Ahoy, matey! At just seven years old, the Northern California Pirate Festival boasts some of the best pirate and nautical entertainers you'll ever see. A dedicated children's area, stunt shows, extensive marketplace to shop, grub and grog should keep families entertained during Father's Day weekend.
6. Music City Hot Chicken Festival (Nashville, Tennessee; July 4): We're not talking temperature hot, either. Music City Hot Chicken Festival brings the spicy to Nashville's signature dish: hot chicken. While parents tend to their mouths-on-fire, kids play games, watch the parade and check out folks dressed up like–you guessed it–chickens.
7. Roswell UFO Festival (Roswell, New Mexico; July 5-7): UFO and alien enthusiasts will love the Roswell UFO Festival, which celebrates one of the most debated incidents in history. Join the alien costume contest and enjoy live entertainment. Dress up and run or walk the 5K or 10K. Watch the alien parade, featuring lighted floats for a truly galactic experience. Guest can participate in the festival's passport program and receive stamps as they learn facts about Roswell.
Maine Lobster Festival — Photo courtesy of manray3
8. Maine Lobster Festival (July 31 - August 5): Wrap your head around this: 20,000 pounds of lobster! It takes 1000 volunteers and the world's greatest lobster cooker to pull off the Maine Lobster Festival. In addition to the Children's Tent, kids can participate in competitions including the cod fish carry and diaper derby. It was a 12-year-old boy who broke the lobster crate race record last year by running over 6000 floating crates!
9. Riverfest (Little Rock, Arkansas; May 24-26): A tradition since 1978 and the largest single event in Arkansas, Riverfest takes place every Memorial Day weekend on the banks of the Arkansas River in Little Rock. This year, Dierks Bently and Peter Frampton are a few of the big names to grace the music line-up. Crafts and games for the kids, a dog parade, wine and microbrew tastings and rides are some of the countless other features to take advantage of.
10. Smithsonian Folklife Festival (Washington, D.C.; June 26-30/July 3-7): A complex production drawing on the research of folklorists, cultural anthropologists and other experts, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival provides all ages education through fun. There's food, beer, live entertainment, crafts, and other exhibits focused on a particular culture. The 2013 festival will highlight Hungary and is located on the National Mall.