As college students generally living in the same area for four years, dining halls and restaurants within walking distance of campus can start to feel repetitive. Venturing out into St. Louis often brings a welcome change of pace, but it prompts an intimidating question: Where should I go? But, quell your worries, because there are other options available. I recommend grabbing a group of friends, a little bit of cash, and attending a food festival. Many of these festivals can be reached via public transportation, making them easy and cheap to attend. These are seven food festivals you should eat your way through during your time as a student in St. Louis. 

1. Q in the Lou 

When: September 11-13, 2020

Where: Keiner Plaza

A quick metro ride away from WashU, Q in the Lou is a great starter festival. Every year, the best Pitmasters from St. Louis gather in Keiner plaza to smoke over 18,000 pounds of meat. Meat options range from Texas Brisket to Pork Belly Burnt Ends, with BBQ beans and corn available as side dishes. If you still have room, stop by one of the dessert tents. Entry to the festival is free, and food ranges from $4-$8. If you want to go all-out, you can purchase a Q Pit Pass for an all-you-can-eat and drink experience. At this festival, you can look forward to live music, BBQ demos to learn how to whip up something unique, and Rib Rumble—a rib eating competition. 

2. The Great Grilled Cheese Off

When: Mid-October

Where: Forest Park

At this festival, eight local restaurants compete for the title of “Greatest Grilled Cheese.” For the ticket price of $25, you get 8 quarter grilled cheese samples with a ballot, a cup of tomato bisque soup, one beer or nonalcoholic beverage, and access to all activities. In addition to plentiful grilled cheese samples, the festival offers marketplace booths featuring dozens of local artists and nonprofits, family activities, a petting zoo, and live music. The event also raises awareness for organizations that strive to empower those in the St. Louis community living with a disability, meaning you are doing good while eating good food. 

3. Kimmswick Apple Butter Festival

When: Annually on the last full weekend in October

Where: Town of Kimmswich

Although it’s a little bit harder to access (a 30-minute drive from campus), the Apple Butter Festival attracts crowds of foodies. Many apple butter fans will arrive as early as 8 am—two hours before the vendors open—to line up. In addition to an abundance of apple butter, the festival features live entertainment and hundreds of vendor booths selling a variety of crafts and food items. 

4. Food Truck Fridays

When: First weekend of the month from May through October

Where: Tower Grove Park

Once a month from May through October, more than twenty food trucks line up along Southwest Drive between Kingshighway Boulevard and Center Cross Drive for Sauce Food Truck Friday. Options range from tacos to barbecue to popsicles, depending on the week. Regardless, there is sure to be an option (or two or three) for everyone in your group to enjoy. 

5. Kimmswick Strawberry Festival

When: June 6th - 7th, 2020 

Where: Kimmswick

This one’s over the summer, but if you’re staying in town for some classes or an internship, head to Kimmswick for strawberry everything. At this festival, you’ll find fresh strawberries, strawberry shortcake, chocolate covered strawberry cheesecake, strawberry iced tea, and more. Once you have eaten fresh berries to your heart's content, enjoy live performances, a petting zoo, bounce houses, and various craft vendors. Also, don't forget to grab an extra bag (or few) of strawberries for baking and enjoying at home. 

6. St. Louis County Greekfest

When: Memorial Day weekend

Where: 4697 Forest Park Avenue at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church

For a break from barbecue and hotdogs over Memorial Day weekend, head over to the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church for Greek food and entertainment. The festival offers an extensive menu of Greek dishes, including Gyros Sandwiches and Souvlaki, as well as a variety of Greek sweets, such as Baklava and Kataifi. You'll also get to enjoy live Greek music, traditional Greek folk dancers, and a traditional Greek market.

7. Kimmswick Christmas Cookie Walk

When: June 6th - 7th, 2019

Where: Kimmswick

Kimmsick offers yet another seasonal food festival during the holiday season. This is a more untraditional festival in that it involves hopping from shop to shop to gather a box of cookies. To participate, you must first purchase a Kimmswick Christmas Cookie Cookbook for $22, which includes a favorite cookie recipe from each participating shop in Kimmswick. Then, you and your friends venture from shop to shop and receive a cookie from each of the recipes to sample. If you plan on participating in this unique cookie walk, be sure to purchase tickets in advance. 

If you make it to all of these food festivals, you will not only have tried some of the best food St. Louis has to offer, but you'll also have explored its unique neighborhoods and met some of its finest local vendors. Plus, these festivals can serve as a great way to discover new restaurants that may become your most frequented favorites.