Each State's Best September Events in 2023

PHOTO: Birmingham, Alabama downtown city skyline. (Photo via Sean Pavone / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Scott Hartbeck
by Scott Hartbeck
Last updated: 10:10 PM ET, Thu August 31, 2023


This year, the second weekend of the month is positively packed with fun things to do in the Yellowhammer State. Choose between listening to great live music at the 10th Annual Women in Jazz Festival in Huntsville (September 8-9), being wooed by wood carving at the Tinglewood Festival (September 9) or strolling past fine works at the Birmingham Art Walk (September 8-9). Later in the month, Fiesta (Alabama's largest celebration of Hispanic heritage) will take place in Birmingham on September 30. 


There's no better way to put an exclamation point on your summer than by attending the Alaska State Fair, which will run through September 4. In addition to all the usual fair-tastic fun, this year will feature concerts from String Cheese Incident (September 2), Little River Band (September 3) and Noah Cyrus (September 4).  Elsewhere, the beloved Alaska World Arts Festival will return to Homer (September 7-21), saluting film, theater, dance, visual arts and storytelling from around the globe. 


The town of Wickenburg will once again celebrate the heritage of its early Hispanic pioneers during the 34th Annual Fiesta de Septiembre (September 16) and in Flagstaff, the 17th Annual Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass Festival returns on September 15-17. Also up north, The Flagstaff Festival of Science will return (September 22 - October 1) to fascinate and enthrall all who attend, with this year's theme being "The Mammoth World of Science".  


Kick off your September by getting in on the one-of-a-kind Wild West fun of the National Championship Chuckwagon Races, which will run through September 3 in Clinton, Arkansas. Elsewhere, the 28th Annual Arkansas Hot Air Balloon State Championship will soar over Harrison on September 8-10 and the annual Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair (September 22-30) will take over Fort Smith with its signature range of fun diversions.


In San Francisco, the annual Autumn Moon Festival will take place on September 23-24, bringing with it lion dancing, entertainment and traditional Chinese mooncakes. That same weekend sees the 66th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival (the longest continually-running jazz get together in the world) return to delight the crowds with artists like Samara Joy, Jamie Cullum, Diane Reeves, Thundercat and Herbie Hancock headlining. Last but not least, Oktoberfest at Big Bear will kick off on September 9 and run weekends through November. 


The Colorado State Fair will run through September 4, bringing with it the usual array of Rocky Mountain fun and great entertainment from the likes of Lady A (September 1), Lil Jon (September 2) and Pat Benatar (September 3). The famed Telluride Film Festival also runs through September 4, presenting thought-provoking and entertaining film from around the world and for something truly special, get down to Durango for the annual Cowboy Gathering (September 28-October 1), which will once again honor the rich culture and traditions of the West's most iconic character.  


If it's Labor Day Weekend in Connecticut, then it's time for the Goshen Fair (September 2-4), an event that has been delighting the crowds since 1910. New London is the place to be on September 9-10 for the annual Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival (think tall ships, live music and great food & drink) and the Guilford Fair will take place on September 15-17, bringing back its signature array of entertainment (think parades and tightrope walkers).  


Firefly Festival may be taking the year off, but the cherished Rehoboth Beach Bandstand Summer Concert Series will still be going strong through September 2. Art lovers will want to head to the Brandywine Festival of the Arts (September 9-11), which will feature works from over 250 artists and over a dozen food vendors. Pack your appetite for the Delaware Taco Festival, which will take place in Wilmington and showcase more than two dozen food stalls, margarita bars and great live music.


Crafts, live music, cold drinks and mouthwatering seafood will be the order of the day at the annual Florida Scallop, Music & Arts Festival in Port Saint Joe (September 2-3), while up north in Pensacola, the city will show off the fruit of the Gulf at its Seafood Festival (September 29 - October 1). In St. Augustine, the Sing Out Loud Festival's Francis Field Showcase will feature performances from the Black Keys, Mumford & Sons, Lord Huron, Maggie Rodgers and many others (September 22-23). 


Proudly boasting that it is the universe's biggest multimedia, pop culture convention focusing on sci-fi & fantasy, comics, literature, gaming art, music, and movies, Dragon Con returns to Atlanta through September 4. Also in Atlanta through September 4, the 12th Annual ATLWKNDR Festival (the city's best underground dance festival) will showcase the excellent sounds of soul, house, afro and more. Later in the month, downtown Augusta will host the annual Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival, which will feature multiple stages of entertainment and works from around the globe.  


Things will feel a little different across the islands this September after the recent events in Maui, but later in the month, the Aloha Festival will carry on as planned with events scheduled all over the state. This event showcases all that is special about Hawaiian culture, and signature events this year will include the 69th Annual Waikiki Hoʻolauleʻa block party (September 23) and the 75th Annual Floral Parade on September 30. Another cultural gem is the 47th Annual Honolulu Intertribal Powwow 2023, which will take place on September 9. 


September in these parts is all about the Eastern Idaho State Fair, and once again this family-friendly soiree returns to Blackfoot (September 1-9). Expect bull riding, truck pulls, rodeo, carnival rides, tasty food and entertainment from Incubus, Jim Gaffigan and Walker Hayes. Art in the Park returns to the Boise Art Museum on September 8-10 and the town of Orofino will once again host Lumberjack Days on September 14-17. 


Bridgeview near Chicago will be the place to be over Labor Day Weekend as the North Coast Music Festival brings sweet EDM sounds to town (September 1-3). Later in the month, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival (September 23-24) will bring memorable jazz performances to the Windy City and once again, September is the time when the legendary Shades of Autumn Fall Festival kicks off at Stade's Farm & Market in McHenry. Expect pumpkin patches, petting zoos, corn mazes and mouthwatering seasonal food on weekends starting September 2. 


The 56th Annual Marshall County Blueberry Festival will take place through September 4 and will once again be one of the best Labor Day Weekend events in the USA (expect an all-American extravaganza and some of the tastiest blueberry-filled treats you've ever eaten). Up north in Fort Wayne, the folk icon Johnny Appleseed will be celebrated with antiques, music, food, games & demonstrations during the Johnny Appleseed Festival on September 16-17.


Labor Day in Sioux City means ArtSplash, and the festival returns on September 2-3 with its beloved array of family-focused fun. In southwest Iowa, the skies will come alive during the 45th Annual Creston Hot Air Balloon Days, which will take place on September 15-17 and feature balloon races, parades and a host of other high-flying activities.


Start your month off in Pittsburg at the Little Balkans Days Festival (August 28 - September 3), where the diverse heritage of the region will be celebrated with gusto. Then, make your way to Hutchinson between September 8-17 for the Kansas State Fair. Elsewhere, the 51st Annual Walnut Valley Festival (September 13-17) will bring the sounds of bluegrass to Winfield, and in addition to concerts and arts & crafts, the gathering will also host the National Flat-Picking Championships.


There's no better way to start your month than by heading to Louisville for WorldFest (September 1-4), the city's signature international festival dedicated to showcasing music, food, arts & crafts and cultures from around the world. Unless you're a car lover, then you'll want to bolt for Bowling Green and its 29th Anniversary Corvette Festival, which will run through September 2. Elsewhere, the Festival of the Horse will return to Georgetown on September 8-10, celebrating the rich horse heritage of the area with parades, live music and excellent food & drink. 


The Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival—the state's oldest harvest festival—returns through September 4 in Morgan City with the blessing of the fleet, a water parade, superb food & drink and much more. Southern Decadence will raise a glass to the local LGBTQ+ community in New Orleans through September 4th and the 80th Annual Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival will take place on September 21-24 in New Iberia, where there will be a mix of parades, street fairs and general revelry.


Start September off celebrating Maine's rich maritime heritage at the Windjammer Festival (September 1-2) before taking part in Maine's Open Lighthouse Day (September 9), an event that sees over a dozen lighthouses in the state open their doors for visitors. Then, why not sample beer from all over the state at the Sunday River Resort during the Maine Brew Fest (September 16-17)?


The Maryland State Fair is back and it will be taking place over two weekends (September 1-3 & 7-10). Expect great livestock competitions, horse racing, carnival rides and concerts from the likes of All Time Low & Quinn XCII. Elsewhere, the Chestertown Jazz Festival takes place on September 7 & 9 while the Maryland Wine Festival (September 16) in Frederick will once again raise a glass to the state's grapes. 


September means the return of the Big E Festival, which is essentially a state fair for all of New England (September 15 - October 1) that takes place in Springfield. In addition to the usual array of agricultural exhibits, carnival rides, food & drink and games, the Big E will feature a display that whisks you away to Ireland's Dingle Peninsula and concerts from the Zedd (September 29), Jimmy Eat World (September 16) Chris Young (September 24) and more. In Beantown, the Boston Arts Festival takes place on September 9-10 and the Boston Local Food Festival will celebrate regional purveyors on September 17. 


Once again, the Soaring Eagle Arts Beats & Eats Festival—think art fair mixed with a food & music fest—will take place in Royal Oak, Michigan over Labor Day Weekend (September 1-4). Another great early September event is the Detroit Jazz Festival (September 1-4), which celebrates the Motor City's jazz scene with free performances throughout town. Or, spend your Labor Day on Mackinac Island (September 4) for one of the most unique annual traditions in the nation: the Labor Day Bridge Walk, a special event where the public is allowed to cross the majestic Mackinac Bridge on foot.


The much-loved Minnesota State Fair will end its annual run on Labor Day (September 4), once again bringing great rides, out of this world food and a last blast of summer fun to all who attend. Elsewhere in the Land Of 10,000 Lakes, the 16th Annual Radio Waves Music Festival will take place on September 8-10 in Grand Marais and the citizens of Duluth will don their best lederhosen and dirndls during Oktoberfestival on September 15-17. 


The 42nd Annual Biloxi Seafood Festival will celebrate the bounty of the Gulf of Mexico on September 9, once again bring together fine purveyors of great seafood from aroudnd the region and those who simply want to let loose. Up north, the Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival will take place on September 16, honoring the Delta Blues and all its glory with performances from King George, Bobby Rush and TJ Hooker Taylor.


Head to Independence (just outside of Kansas City) between September 1-4 for the 51st annual SantaCaliGon Festival, which celebrates the city's historic starting point of the Santa Fe, California and Oregon Trails. Expect carnival rides, great food, live music and other attractions that will take you back to the days of the pioneers. Over in St. Louis, the Missouri Botanical Garden will hold its famed Japanese Festival (September 2-4), the St. Louis Art Fair will delight the crowds on September 8-10 and Great Forest Park Balloon Race will soar above the city on September 16 (balloon glow on September 15).


Movie lovers will want to make for for Billings for the annual MINT Film Festival (September 21-24), which will showcase great films from around the globe. Great Northwest Oktoberfest—Whitefish's wonderful autumnal German party— will take place on September 28-30, boasting overflowing steins of good times alongside great German music & food. Last but not least, you will have until September 30 to take part in the 48th Annual Art Auction at the Waterworks Art Museum in the town of Miles, an event that is one of the state's most anticipated annual art gatherings.


Head to Grand Isle through September 4 to end summer in style at the Nebraska State Fair, where you'll be able to enjoy a spectacular range of carnival rides, agricultural displays, great food and live entertainment (Lee Brice and Bush are among the performers). Then, head on to Gothenburg for the much-loved Harvest Festival (September 14-17), where the entire family will be able to enjoy a parade, arts event and plenty more. Last but not least, the Applejack Festival (selected dates September 15-24) takes place again in Nebraska City, celebrating the local apple harvest with plenty of fun events and tasty apple-filled treats.


You have until September 4 to experience the one-of-a-kind, once-a-year temporary town of Black Rock City at the world-famous Burning Man project while over in Reno, the skies will fill with color at the annual Great Reno Balloon Race (September 9-10), which is regarded as the world's largest free hot air balloon gathering. To experience the VERY wild side of the West, go to Virginia City on that same weekend for the 64th International Camel & Ostrich Races (September 9-11), where you're guaranteed a great time and maybe a social-media ready shot of you and your crew atop a camel.

New Hampshire

The coastal town of Hampton Beach will hold its 34th Annual Seafood Festival on September 8-10 and the party will once again feature great food & drink, live entertainment and all kinds of shopping oppurtunities. Celebrate all things Scotland at the New Hampshire Highland Games & Festival in Concord (September 15-17), where you will be able to watch Scottish sports, sheepdog trials, try Scottish food and potentially trace the branches on your family tree. 

New Jersey

The Central Jersey Jazz Festival will return this year (September 9-10) to several venues throughout the middle partof the state with Claudia Acuna and The Steve Kroon Latin Jazz Quartet being just two of the artists scheduled to perform. In Secaucus, the Inked Out Tattoo Convention will leave its mark on September 15-17 and Point Pleasant Beach's 45th Annual Festival of the Sea (September 16) will celebrate the bounty of the Atlantic Ocean with games, live music and plenty of fresh seafood.

New Mexico

Get your taste buds ready for the Hatch Chile Festival, as it will make its return to the town of Hatch over Labor Day Weekend (September 1-3), offering guests the chance to watch the chile festival queen be crowned, sample chile-centric dishes and peruse artisan crafts. There will be a rodeo, A-list entertainment (Justin Moore, 311 and Mariachi Sol de Mexico among others) great food and lots of agricultural exhibits at the New Mexico State Fair (September 7-17) in Albuquerque while Santa Fe is the place to be for foodies later in the month as the 32nd Annual Wine & Chile Fiesta returns to town (September 27-October 1).

New York

Head Upstate to the Home of the Bills for the National Buffalo Wing Festival (September 2-4) at Highmark Stadium, where you'll be treated to cooking contests, eating competitions and plenty of zingy wingy. Elsewhere, Rhinebeck will be the setting for the 22st Annual Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest on September 9-10 and Rochester will be an art lovers’ dream come true during the Clothesline Festival (September 9-10), an event that sees hundreds of works put on display. Last but not certainly not least, the Big Apple will host New York Fashion Week from September 7-13, and in addition to the action on the runways, there will be a plethora of special events to partake in.

North Carolina

Head to the town of Hendersonville on September 1-4 for the 76th Annual North Carolina Apple Festival, where all in attendance will be able to soak up a Tar Heel State atmosphere and sample plenty of apple-filled goodies. Out on the Outer Banks, the annual Kite Festival returns to Nags Head (September 8-9), where world-class stunt kite flyers will show off their flying skills to the delight of the crowds on the beach. Later in September, the 19th Annual Bookmarks Festival of Books & Authors will turn pages in downtown Winston-Salem.

North Dakota

Get yourself to Grand Forks early in the month for the 57th Annual Potato Bowl (September 5-9), which will feature events like fry-eating contests, potato sack races, the "World's Largest French Fry Feed" and a grand parade that all leads up to the North Dakota/Northern Arizona football game. Over in Fargo, the final two weekends of the month (September 16-17 & September 23-24) will be the time for the annual Fall in Fargo event at the Rheault Farm, where there will be a host of family-friendly fun to enjoy (think corn mazes and strolling clowns).


Start your September by celebrating everything Greek at the 50th Annual Greek Festival in Columbus, where all who attend will be able to enjoy traditional dance, music, and food in addition to exclusive cathedral tours. Up in Cleveland, the city will once again host one of the USA’s first major Oktoberfest parties of the season featuring multiple tents full of frothy beers and lively entertainment, including the legendary glockenspiel. (September 1-4 & 8-9). The ‘fest up north serves as a nice warm-up for Oktoberfest Zinzinnati (September 14-17) down in Cincy, which is nicknamed “America’s Oktoberfest” and will once again turn downtown into a party so authentic it will have you thinking you left Ohio and landed in Bavaria. Finally, Tremont—one of Cleveland’s coolest neighborhoods—will hold its annual Tremont Arts & Cultural Festival on September 16-17.


September in the Sooner State is all about the fair, and this year the Oklahoma State Fair (September 14-24) returns with its usual array of tasty food, fun games, concerts, livestock & agricultural events in addition to a renowned Disney on Ice event. Elsewhere, the aptly-named town of Mustang will pay homage to its heritage with a rodeo, parade, carnival and car show (among many other events) during Western Days on September 8-9. Finally, you’ll be saying "Opa-homa!" at the annual Greek Festival in Tulsa (September 21-23), where all aspects of Greek Culture will be celebrated. 


Start your September off right by attending the Portland Dragon Boat Festival on September 9-10, where teams of competitors will take to the wonderful waters of Tom McCall Park. Or, make your way to the 77th Annual Bandon Cranberry Festival (September 9-10), where the local cranberry harvest will be celebrated with gusto. Later on in the month, Rose City Comic Con—Portland’s leading pop culture event—will take place on September 22-24, bringing with it an array of fun across every fandom universe you can think of.


It might not come as a surprise to find out that the town of Hamburg holds a Taste of Hamburger Festival each year (September 2), but you might be taken aback at how much fun you’ll have at the 20th annual rendition of this tribute to the burger. That same weekend, Scranton hosts its La Festa Italiana (September 1-4), which is a “red, white and green” celebration of all things Italy. For something really old school, head to the 168th Bloomsburg Fair (September 22-30), which will showcase the races, carnival rides, foodie delights and concerts (Richard Marx & Zach Williams are among the highlights) that have made it famous. 

Rhode Island

Seemingly every year, the Rhythm & Roots Festival (September 1-3) in Charlestown outdoes itself when it comes to the diversity of its lineup, and 2023's edition will feature headlining sets from Trombone Shorty and Greensky Bluegrass in addition to a multitude of others. Elsewhere, The rock-solid Rhode Island Seafood Festival (September 16-17) will take place in Providence, and if you have even the slightest interest in boating, the Newport International Boat Show (September 14-17) is the place to be.

South Carolina

Start September right at the Lowcountry Jazz Festival (September 2-3) in Charleston, the Palmetto State’s premier jazz gathering. In Columbia, Jubilee: A Festival of Black History & Culture will hold its 45th annual edition on September 16, once again featuring musicians, artisans, storytellers and dancers. Later in the month, Summerville will be the place to be for the Sweet Tea Festival on September 23 and foodies will want to find themselves in Charleston for Restaurant Week on September 7-17. 

South Dakota

Head to Huron for the South Dakota State Fair (runs through September 4) to experience a classic all-American get-together filled with exciting rides, bull riding competitions and performances from the likes of Lady A, Carly Pearce, Drew Green and Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias. The 19th Annual Ribs, Rods and Rock 'n' Roll barbecue fest will fire up the grill in Vermillion on September 8-9 while the 32nd Annual Deadwood Jam music festival will delight the crowds with rock, reggae, rock and blues on September 15-16.


Head to Vonore’s Sequoyah Birthplace Museum—the state's only tribally owned museum—on September 9-10 for the 32nd Annual Cherokee Fall Festival, an event celebrating the season and Cherokee culture through dance, music, arts & crafts and food. Dollywood kicks off its world-famous Harvest Festival on September 20, a month-plus-long event featuring Great Pumpkin LumiNights and a wide spectrum of seasonal fun. Elsewhere, the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival takes the stage in Franklin on September 23-24 with music from The Lumineers, The Black Crowes, Zach Bryan, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and more.


Spend Labor Day Weekend in Fort Worth at the Giddy Up and Go! Festival (August 31 - September 4), which will feature rodeos, live music, lawn games and live music from Tanner Wrey. Grapevine will once again be the place to be for wine lovers this month as GrapeFest (September 14-17) returns to pay tribute to the Lone Star State’s homegrown wine. Dallas will once again see an authentic Carnival take to the streets of "Big D" during the Dallas Carnival Caribbean Festival (September 14-17) while Galveston is the place to be by the sea during the weekend of September 22-23 as the Galveston Island Shrimp Festival swims back to town.


The Urban Arts Festival—Utah’s largest free arts festival—returns to Salt Lake City on September 2-3 and this year’s edition will feature dance, live music, mural painting, art sales and a range of interesting exhibits. Also in SLC, the Utah State Fair will bring its signature blend of fun & autumnal events to the crowds on September 7-17 and the like-nothing-else Moab Music Festival will showcase classical, chamber and Latin music against a backdrop of Utah’s remarkable landscape through September 15.


Eat, drink and get stinky (hey, it’s their slogan) at the Garlic Town, USA event in Bennington (September 2) where there will be bands, food trucks, beer and plenty of garlicky treats at a gathering that is considered to be the state’s largest family farm market. Elsewhere, Oktoberfest returns to Waterfront Park in Burlington on September 22-23 and the Burke Fall Foliage Festival (September 30) will see East Burke Village come alive with rubber duck races, horse-drawn wagon rides, a parade and a craft fair with 70-plus vendors.


Roots music and merrymaking returns to Front Royal during the Appaloosa Festival (September 2-3) while the Virginia State Fair will fling its doors open for fun on September 22 (runs through October 1) at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell. End your month on the coast at the 49th Annual Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend in Virginia Beach, which will see the kick-off of the much-loved International Sand Sculpting Championship.


Start your September on the right foot at the Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days (runs through September 3), which will return its usual wide array of family-friendly fair fun in addition to hosting a parade, classic car show, demolition derby, rodeo and a concert from the Beach Boys. In other fair affairs, the Washington State Fair (September 1-24) will take place in Puyallup and will feature a rock star roster of rides, rodeos, fair food and performances from the likes of Chicago, Kane Brown, Dan + Shay and other A-list names. In Seattle, Fremont Oktoberfest returns on September 22-24 and the Italian Festival toasts all things Italy on September 23-24.

West Virginia

The spud will be celebrated with gusto at the 53rd Annual Nicholas County Potato Festival (September 8-9) with potato sack races, a tractor show, potato auctions, live music and plenty of tasty potato-based snacks to feast on. Then, point your vehicle towards Point Pleasant to spend a weekend toasting everybody’s favorite winged, red-eyed cryptid at the Mothman Festival (September 16-17). What, you didn’t know the legend about the West Virginia Mothman? Well, you’re in for a treat.


You’ll want to be in Waukesha over Labor Day Weekend for the Wisconsin Highland Games (September 1-3), a fun event that honors the cultures of Scotland and the other Celtic nations. In the capital, Taste of Madison will take place over the same weekend (September 2-3) which will bring great live music and unbelievably tasty food to Capital Square in the heart of Madison. The Badger State loves a good Oktoberfest celebration, and two of the best of 2023 will be in Chippewa Falls (September 15-16) and New Glarus (September 21-24).


The Fall Arts Festival returns to Jackson Hole on September 6-17 and once again there will be scores of events showcasing a range of works by renowned artists and still other events based around indulging in food & wine and listening to excellent music. Also in September, Cheyenne will celebrate Hispanic culture through exhibits, art, mariachis, music & dance, and food & crafts at the Hispanic Festival (September 9) and put Greek culture on a plinth during the Cheyenne Greek Festival (September 15-16). 

The temperatures may still be boiling hot in many parts of the country but the Pumpkin Spice Lattes are on the menu and that vacant store in the Strip Mall down the street is being turned into a Halloween Shop. The ninth month is truly a month of transition and the Best September Events in America straddle the line between sending summer off in style and embracing the harvest theme of some of the nation's best fall festivals.

On the following collection of fantastic September events, you'll find everything from music festivals, state fairs and seafood festivals that feel distinctly "summery" to an early trickle of Oktoberfest parties and pumpkin patch openings. Regardless if you'd like to keep those flip-flop vibes going strong or are already fantasizing about sweater weather, you'll find a great September event by you worth attending.

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Scott Hartbeck

Scott Hartbeck

Born in the USA but now based in England, Scott has been writing about travel for over 10 years. He specializes in Europe, rail...

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