Ring in Spring and Summer at These Eight Eccentric Festivals

Whether long-standing traditions or only-in-2024 affairs, these Southern shindigs are one of a kind

A women in a tent with halloween items for sale.

Photo: Courtesy of HauntFest and Affiliates

In the absence of college football, it’s nice to know Southerners can still unite around a common cause. Like grits. Or livermush. Or the total solar eclipse that will darken certain states this April (and spawn some unique celebrations). Below, discover a handful of events that stand out on the calendar this season.

Bermuda shoreline
Stay in Touch with G&G
Get Due South, our weekly travel newsletter.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

April Ghouls HauntFest

April 6–7, Athens, Georgia

photo: Courtesy of HauntFest and Affiliates
A costumed attendee at the April Ghouls celebration in Athens, Georgia.

You’ve heard of Christmas in July, but what about Halloween in April?  Ghoulish activities at Athens’s Southern Brewing Co. will include snake encounters, a haunted trail with monsters, horror trivia night, and ghost stories told around a fire. Food trucks, a roster of fourteen bands, and a selection of craft brews and themed cocktails round out the unseasonable celebration. 

Solar Eclipse Festival

April 6–9, Copperas Cove, Texas

Camp out under the stars in anticipation of the celestial event of the year. A total solar eclipse will take place on April 8, and Copperas Cove is one of the places in the path of totality. Fuel up at one of the many food trucks and tents at the weekend event, then shop from local artisans or enter the disc golf tournament. Cap the evenings off with live music from local Texas bands. Can’t sleep? No problem—enter in the twenty-four-hour softball tournament. 

Also experiencing totality will be Russellville, Arkansas, which will host a three-day Total Eclipse of the Heart celebration. Wedding officiants will be present for couples who love each other “to the moon and back”—just be sure to bring your wedding license for the mass elopement.

World Grits Festival

April 12–14, St. George, South Carolina

photo: Courtesy of Dave Mezz
A competitor in the “Rolling in the Grits” contest.

We haven’t checked their math, but in 1985, the small town of St. George figured out they ate more grits per capita than any other place. In honor of this superlative, they launched the World Grits Festival, a tradition that includes a parade, a craft fair, and the “Rolling in the Grits” contest, in which participants get down and dirty with the Southern staple.

Woofstock 24 & Brewfest

April 20, West Monroe, Louisiana

These sister events run alongside each other in Kiroli Park and capture two of the best spring pastimes: playing outside with your dog, and sipping cold beers. After the pet pageant and dog training demonstrations, enter yourself and your furry friend in the Pet & Owner Look-a-Like contest. Then browse local wares and cool down with a selection from Brewfest’s craft beer stalls.

Livermush Festival

June 1, Marion, North Carolina

photo: John Sacco

For the sixteenth year, the town of Marion will hold its annual festival to celebrate the pork and cornmeal dish known as livermush. Participate in the hog callin’ or pig squealin’ contests for a chance to win a cash prize and T-shirt (no hogs or pigs needed to enter), then vote for your favorite livermush food truck and enjoy live bluegrass music.

Luling Watermelon Thump

June 27–30, Luling, Texas

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Watermelon Thump (@thewatermelonthump)

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the watermelons at the weigh-in competition at this seventy-year-old Luling tradition. There are carnival rides and live music to enjoy, but what’s a thump without entering a watermelon eating or seed spitting contest?