Thursday marked the first day of fall, and what better way to celebrate than by heading out to one of the region’s autumn food and drink festivals. Here’s a list of several upcoming events that accommodate a range of budgets and tastes. Many of these offer free admission, with food and drink available for purchase on site. Others are more subdued events that involve apple picking in Central Virginia while others, such as Taste of DC, offer copious amount of food, drinks and people watching in the heart of the city. Taste of Potomac and Farm to Chef Maryland benefit local charities that support children.
What: Billing itself as DC’s largest food and drink festival, Taste of DC promises a dizzying array of libations, entertainment and grub. Experience live music and cooking demonstrations on two stages and Ben’s Chili Bowl’s World Chili Eating Championship.
When: Oct. 8-9
Where: Four blocks from 3rd to 7th streets, near the Verizon Center.
What: Spanish tapas, Vietnamese Bahn Mi, and Carolina barbecue are among the food truck fare at the family friendly event.
When: Oct. 15
Where: NOMA Storey Park
Cost: Enter for free and purchase food and drink on site or buy tickets for $39-$55 with food tastings and drink
What: The region’s version of Smorgasburg returns to Union Market with nearly 100 chefs, restaurants and artisans represented. Chef Erik Bruner-Yang's Paper Horse Ramen, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Megpies tarts and egg waffle ice cream maker Eggloo. More than half of the vendors are new to the festival, with man traveling from Charleston, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and Brooklyn.
When: Nov. 12013
Where: Union Market’s Dock 5
What: Live music, food from area restaurants and $5 craft beer tastings will highlight this neighborhood festival. There’s also a pumpkin patch with kids’ activities.
When: Oct. 22
Where: Cathedral Commons, Newark Avenue at Wisconsin Avenue NW
What: The culinary competition pairs 30 farmers with 30 chefs to create unique dishes that are judged by a panel and attendees. The event benefits TasteWise Kids, which provides food and farm education to children.
When: Sept. 26
Where: B&O Museum, Baltimore
What: Find 19 wineries, plus spirits, at this gathering, which has demos, tastings, food, entertainment and more
When: October 24 and 25
Where: Montgomery County Fairgrounds
What: This event celebrates the region’s "funkiest" beers, with more than 70 to sample.
When: October 1 at noon
Where: Denizen’s Brewing Company
Cost: $55 and up
What: Tastings from area restaurants, including Cava Mezze, The Grilled Oyster and City Perch Kitchen +Bar. Silent auctions that include trips, wine and food will support Adoptions Together.
When: Oct. 1
Where: Bolger Center, Potomac
What: Expect steamed and raw oysters, other seafood and dishes from local food trucks. Guests can purchase food beer, wine and cocktails and listen to live music.
When: Nov. 5
Where: West Shore Park at the Inner Harbor
Cost: Free admission; Oyster tickets cost $25 for one dozen steamed oysters and one drink.
What: Nothing screams fall festival more than oompah and polka music, beer and brats. Eat a few extra sausages to to prep for the biggest beer belly contest.
When: Oct. 8
Where: M&T Bank Stadium
What: Learn all about whiskies and scotches in seminars and enjoy unlimited tastings of single malt and blended Scotch, Irish, Tennessee, bourbon, rye and other spirits. Admission includes a commemorative glass and food samples.
When: Nov. 3
Where: Engineers Club of Baltimore
What: Enjoy live music, Virginia wine, and oysters from Rappahannock Oyster Company. Early Mountain Executive Chef Ryan Collins will prepare crab cakes, shrimp cocktail and two types of clam chowder.
Where: Early Mountain Vineyards, Madison
Cost: $15 (includes wine tasting and stemless wine glass)
What: Enjoy apple and pumpkin picking, hay rides and pony rides at the Central Virginia mountain lodge. Brunswick Stew, cornbread and barbecue are among the lunch items, and, of course, apple cider, apple pie and applesauce.
When: Oct. 1-2, Oct. 9, Oct. 16
Where: Graves Mountain Lodge, Syria
What: The outdoor mall will be flooded with fall beers, traditional German music and dancing. There’s also a 5k race an Oktoberfest fare from area restaurants.
When: Oct. 8
Where: Reston Town Center
What: Tickets for Saturday are sold out at this wine festival at the historic mansion. But festival lovers who act fast can still buy tickets for Friday or Sunday. Guests can sample vino from nearly two-dozen Virginia wineries, hear live blues and receive an evening tour of George and Martha Washington’s home.
When: Oct. 7-9
Where: George Washington’s Mount Vernon