By D. Channing Muller Posted March 29, 2010, 9:50 AM EDT
1. Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival
This four-day feast has a lineup of more than 40 food and wine events at numerous venues, including tents on the sand. Benefiting Florida International University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, the event attracts chefs from all over the country and across the Food Network, more than 2,000 vendors, and 40,000 guests. This year’s festival was February 25 to 28.
2. Miami International Wine Fair
This wine industry trade show took place at the Miami Beach Convention Center in late September. In 2009, the eighth annual event attracted about 6,700 people and filled 70,000 square feet. The 2010 fair returns October 16 and 17.
3. Taste of the Nation
This fund-raiser for Share Our Strength fights hunger and poverty. The organization’s 2009 events in Miami and Fort Lauderdale attracted 1,800 people and raised $188,000. The Fort Lauderdale event returns May 13; Miami’s is planned for July.
4. Delray Beach Garlic Festival
This unconventional food festival is recognized for its “Garlic Chef” competition between South Florida cooks. The 2009 event saw attendance increase by 8,000 people, to more than 35,000. The festival returned to Old School Square February 12 to 14.
5. The Great Taste of the Grove
This two-day food and music festival in Coconut Grove, produced by the chamber of commerce, took place January 9 and 10 in Peacock Park. Attendance dropped almost 75 percent from 2009—to about 7,500 people—due to freezing rain and cold weather.
6. Pompano Beach Seafood Festival
The 25th installment of this event took place April 24 to 26, 2009, on Pompano Beach. Nearly 27,000 attended, an increase of more than 25 percent. Net revenues also doubled, raising $85,000 for local charities. The festival returns April 16 to 18.
7. Deering Seafood Festival
This day of cooking demos, Caribbean entertainment, and fresh seafood takes place the last Sunday in March at the Deering Estate in South Miami. In 2009, a 10 percent increase in attendance and a 20 percent jump in sponsorships brought a 10 percent increase in net revenue. This year’s event is planned for March 28.
8. New Times Iron Fork Competition
More than 40 local chefs and restaurants compete in tasting and cooking contests coordinated by the Miami New Times. For 2009, the newspaper moved the event to the Bank of America Tower, filling it to capacity with 1,200 people and 44 participating restaurants—twice as many as in 2008. The competition returns in October.
9. Coral Gables Oktoberfest
This beer festival takes place the first two weekends in October at Fritz and Franz Bierhaus. About 9,000 people come out for authentic German beers and music from Bavarian and Austrian bands.
10. Coral Gables Wine and Food Festival
Sponsored by the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, the 2009 event saw more than 30 local restaurants participate. The fund-raiser sold out all 1,600 tickets and raised more than $126,000 for the American Lung Association in Florida-South Area and the International Bronchitis Center. The festival returns April 10 on Miracle Mile.
11. Museum of Discovery and Science’s Wine and Culinary Celebration
Each April this wine and food fair to raises money for the museum’s programs. Thirty local restaurants participated in 2009, drawing nearly 1,000 attendees and raising $100,000. This year’s event is scheduled for April 16.