MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - Food is the centerpiece of most get-togethers in the Deep South, and the Magnolia State has a plethora of festivals that will whet any food lover's appetite.
From juicy summer watermelons to roasted fall sweet potatoes, there's a food festival for every season all across Mississippi.
Here's the seven festivals to bookmark for your next weekend trip:
Tomato Festival in Crystal Springs (June 25)
Once known as the "Tomatopolis of the World," the town of Crystal Springs is famous for its annual tomato festival. It's held the last Saturday in June and will have a flea and farmers markets as well as a tomato museum.
Slugburger Festival in Corinth (July 7-9)
Ever heard of the slugburger? It's the town of Corinth's most-prized culinary creation, which is deep-fried beef and soy meal patty. In fact, the burger was once sold for a nickel, which was once called a slug, according to mainstreetcorinth.com.
The three-day festival will have something for the whole family including a slugburger eating competition, live entertainment, carnival rides and a slugburger pageant.
Watermelon festival in Mize (July 15-16)
Free watermelon, anyone? This two-day festival will have a watermelon eating contest, car show and some delicious food.
Natchez Food and Wine Festival (July 29-31)
Every summer, one of Natchez's most anticipated festivals brings culinary enthusiasts from all over the country to the Deep South. Well-known chefs present guests with scrumptious dishes that are paired with a variety of wine.
Pig Pickin' in Cleveland (Sept. 23-24)
Pig Pickin' is a Southern tradition put on by the Delta State Alumni Association for the past 30 years. The two-day events includes sizzling barbecue, live entertainment, tailgating and football.
Hot Tamale Festival in Greenville (October 13-15)
The Delta is known for its hot tamale, so, of course, an annual festival takes place every October for the beloved food. The festival lasts three days and includes a tamale eating contest as well as a tamale cooking contest. While you're in town, stop by the Viking Cooking School and learn how to make your very own hot tamales.
Sweet Potato Festival in Vardaman (November 7-14)
This annual festival celebrates a delicious fall vegetable that can be cooked in a variety of ways. Held in November, the Sweet Potato Festival in Vardaman includes many food booths and the town's "famous chicken dinners."
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