International Biscuit Festival 2016 Preview

The International Biscuit Festival has exploded onto the national food festival scene since its founding in 2009, attracting a crowd of more than 20,000 to downtown Knoxville, Tenn. in 2015. What started as a small local gathering now draws in vendors, musicians, and attendees from around the world. In 2015 the area of the festival itself was nearly tripled, allowing more room for the crowds that flock to the area for a taste of flaky goodness.

This year, the festival takes place on Saturday, May 14th, though some events start earlier and continue after. With music, art, competitions, and plenty to eat, the International Biscuit Festival has a little bit of something for everyone.

Biscuit Festival Events

In 2012, the festival added the Southern Food Writing Conference to its roster, inviting food bloggers and industry professionals to socialize, learn from each other, and eat good food. The Biscuit Bash on Friday night allows the public to meet those attending the conference while enjoying good food and live music. Both these events are ticketed separately, but there are plenty of other options available to those who wish to enjoy the festival.

  • Biscuit Boulevard

    Biscuit Boulevard is what most consider the main event of the biscuit festival. Local and national contenders line the streets to offer their take on the traditional Southern bread. Last year’s bakers included local favorites Tupelo Honey Café and The Plaid Apron, as well as national companies like Bojangles, King Arthur Flour, and Whole Foods Market. While the festival is free to attend, a $10 ticket allows you to choose five signature biscuits to taste. These tickets are only sold at the event, starting at 8:30 Saturday morning. After you’ve tried as many biscuits as you can handle, you can cast your vote to help choose the People’s Choice winner.

  • Biscuit Bazaar

    The Biscuit Bazaar is another popular area of the festival, where vendors come together to offer biscuit-related wares to festival-goers. Items for sale include clothing, crafts, artwork, and food items such as jams, honey, sorghum, and, of course, biscuits. The bazaar is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

  • Miss or Mister Biscuit Pageant

    The International Biscuit Festival isn’t just about eating; there’s plenty of time to show off your poise and talent, as well. Described as the “silliest of the things we do” by festival founder John Craig, who is often called the ‘Biscuit Boss,’ the pageant judges contestants on their biscuit-making fashion, biscuit-related talents, and biscuit-balancing skills, which involves contestants walking across the stage with biscuits on their heads.

  • Music

    Music is provided throughout the day by talented musicians who have spent the last few months preparing original music for the festival’s Biscuit Songwriting Competition. Submissions were accepted up until the week before the festival, when finalists were officially invited to perform at the festival on the Flatbed Stage. The winner takes home a biscuit trophy to commemorate the achievement.

  • Southern Biscuit Baking Contest

    The baking contest is another highlight of the festival, with amateur and professional bakers alike submitting recipes for the chance to bake their goods for the judges the day of the festival. The competition is divided into four categories: sweet biscuits, savory biscuits, special biscuits, and student biscuits, a category reserved for competitors under 18. Each category will have three competitors chosen from all the recipes submitted, and then a grand prize winner will be chosen from the final four. Last year’s Biscuit Bake-Off recipes are available here for those who wish to try them at home.

  • Art Exhibition

    Can’t make it to East Tennessee on Saturday? No worries – you can show your biscuit appreciation throughout the month of May at the International Biscuit Festival Art Exhibition. Artwork that made the cut is being displayed at Rala, Coffee and Chocolate, and 30 Market Square. You can view the art online and even buy some to display in your own home. Last year’s Merit Award winner, Hannah Holder, will also have a variety of biscuit-themed works displayed in a solo art show throughout the month of May at Bliss Home in Market Square.

50 States of Biscuits

To help ensure biscuit fans across the country can get their fixes, the International Biscuit Festival has teamed up with Great American Country to bring us 50 States of Biscuits. This site highlights restaurants and food trucks from around the country, featuring a different state each week. The project can help people around the country discover local biscuits and also offers recipes for biscuit fans to try at home.

Courtney Barkley
Courtney Barkley

Courtney Barkley has lived in nearly as many southeastern states as most Americans have probably visited, settling in East Tennessee in early 2013. She and her husband Thomas were married during ShadoCon 2012 – an anime, gaming, and comics convention – in a ceremony that featured a reading about dinosaurs in love from a friend dressed as Doctor Who. She spends her free time chasing her brilliant and imaginative son Nathan, hanging out with friends, binge-watching shows, playing video games, and keeping up with the characters of the Marvel Universe. And, any chance she gets, she sneaks off to Florida to visit friends and the happiest place on earth – Disney World.

Connect with Courtney Barkley on Google+