As the days get shorter and the temps get cooler, things ramp up around here, and this fall is packed full of more festivals and events than ever. Since we don't have enough room in our bellies — or cash in our wallets — to hit them all, a little planning is in order. Here's a rundown of the best fall food and drink festivals in Dallas. Buy tickets early, as some of these festivals will sell out.
Chefs for Farmers
Sept. 23 to 25; locations vary
Tickets: $75 to $200
This fest, celebrating local farmers and chefs, has three separate events: A seated dinner (Creme de la Femme) on Friday night at Arlington Hall at Lee Park, a Saturday street food night market in the Design District and the Main Event, an all-you-can-stuff-in-your-face gathering at Arlington Hall. The Main Event has some robust talent in its lineup, including Graham Dodds (Wayward Sons), Emma and Travis Heim (Heim BBQ), John Tesar (Knife) and Nilton Borges (The Joule), along with visiting chefs from lauded restaurants like Cochon and Cured at Pearl. Featured farms include Bonton Farms, Farmers Assisting Returning Military, A Bar N Ranch and Dallas Urban Farms. This fest is pricier than the others, but there's a lot of talent — in both agriculture and the kitchen — on the bill.
Smoked Dallas BBQ & Music Fest
2:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 at Main Street Garden Park
Tickets: $28 to $90
This year's Smoked Dallas BBQ Fest has two epic lineups: 16 top pitmasters/chefs and killer Texas bands Shinyribs and The Toadies. The ticket price includes tastings from every meat-slinger until 5 p.m., after which you can buy barbecue. On this year's meaty lineup: Louie Mueller Barbecue, Pecan Lodge, The Slow Bone, Black's BBQ, Heim and more.
Texas Beer Camp
Oct. 1 & 2 in Princeton
Tickets: $40 to $45
By far one of the coolest festivals in DFW, Texas Beer Camp is a 24-hour overnight event that involves camping, homebrew, barbecue, Texas bands and ample craft beer. This is no ordinary beer fest: It's basically a giant bottle swap, which means you bring your own beer and share (or trade) with your fellow festival-goers. Homebrewers will also be brewing on-site. Pack your camping gear and fill your Yeti with bombers — you're in for an interesting weekend.
DIFFA/Dallas' Burgers & Burgundy
6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7 at the Ron Kirk Pedestrian Bridge
This fundraiser thrown by Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS features sliders and wine on the scenic Ron Kirk Pedestrian Bridge, where visitors will also find art installations and performances from Repel the Robot and The Please, Please Me. Chef John Tesar is assembling a crack team of burger big-shots to cook up sliders for the evening fest.
Dallas Coffee Day
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at Life in Deep Ellum
Now in its second year, Dallas Coffee Day brings together roasters, baristas, gear-makers and coffee lovers for a fest that celebrates Dallas' ever-growing craft coffee scene. This year's fest will feature 10 roasters, "one of the best hand grinder-makers in the country" and tacos for sale from Trompo, this year's biggest Dallas culinary Cinderella story. The price of admission includes a Dallas Coffee Day mug and tote bag designed by Houndstooth’s Natalie Hasty and unlimited coffee tastings from roasters. Pop into a cupping session to learn how to properly evaluate coffee, watch a latte art throwdown, grab a cortado from the espresso bar or hit up a panel discussion about why it's important for roasters to visit the farms where their coffee is grown and harvested.
4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at City Hall Plaza
Tickets: $25 to $40
This outdoor fest at City Hall Plaza celebrates the perfect festival-friendly dish: tacos. Dozens of Dallas' best taquerias will serve up classic tacos, street-style tacos, contemporary tacos — the sky is the taco limit. Factor in live music and cash bars and you've got yourself a fine afternoon. Grab tickets soon — early bird pricing ends Thursday and after that, prices go up.
Park and Palate
Oct. 21 & 22 at Klyde Warren Park
Night one of this annual fundraiser benefitting Klyde Warren Park has already sold out, but you can still grab tickets to the Grande Taste, where more than 30 chefs will serve up haute fest fare while you sip ample beer, wine and craft cocktails in at the scenic urban park.
Texas Veggie Fair
Saturday, Oct. 22 at Reverchon Park
Whether you ascribe to a largely plant-based lifestyle or just enjoy a well-roasted spaghetti squash, Texas Veggie Fair, a free dog-friendly fest celebrating the humble vegetable, is a good time. The vegetarian- and vegan-friendly event features yoga, a beer garden, live music and vendor after vendor serving up tasty vegetarian fare. Since it's located right off the Katy Trail, it's also bike-friendly, making it one of Dallas' healthier fall festival options.
Saturday, Nov. 12 at Fair Park
Tickets: $35 to $139
North Texas Beer Week will culminate with a combination beer and music fest that has one hell of a lineup this year — both TV on the Radio and Gogol Bordello will play this year's fest, which will feature more than 400 beers from 100-plus breweries. Local food and arts vendors will also be on hand, and there will be two stages for live music.
Sunday, Nov. 13 at Four Corners Brewery
This barbecue competition benefitting the National MS Society is likely to sell out just a few hours after tickets go on sale on Oct. 4. The fest originally started as a few friends with a keg going head-to-head smoking various meats in someone's backyard, but over the years it's evolved to become one of the city's most popular festivals, and this year included the hilarious Meat Fight 1K. The chef line-up for this year's event — which will pit teams of chefs against each other in an epic barbecue battle — is a veritable who's who of Dallas food: Matt McCallister (FT33, Filament), Misti Norris (Small Brewpub), Anastacia Quinones (Oddfellows), David Uygur (Lucia) and Danyele McPherson (HG Sply Co., Remedy), to name a few. Snag tickets quickly for this one, lest you end up with some serious meat-FOMO.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.