When the crisp fall weather moves in, you know it’s about time for Atlanta’s Chomp and Stomp Chili Cook-Off and Bluegrass Festival.
This beloved annual event brings folks together as no other block party can. And, while much of the fun is in the name, there’s a lot more to it than food and string instruments.
Today, we’re getting down and dirty on this time-honored tradition.
This Atlanta Fall Chili and Bluegrass Festival Is Fun for All Ages
Atlanta’s beloved Chomp and Stomp Festival takes place every fall. About 30,000 locals and visitors head to the event the first weekend in November to enjoy tasty treats and world-renowned music.
After you get your blood pumping, you can taste creations from celebrity chefs and private cooks with guarded family recipes. In fact, you could taste nearly 100 different types. But this one-day party is about much more than just delicious chili.
The day begins with a 5k race through historic Cabbagetown. Whether you’re breaking records or leisurely pushing a stroller, it’s a great way to kick off the fun. Check out the rest of the fest once you’ve crossed the finish line.
Several stages throughout the grounds host upwards of 20 musical acts. Of course, you’ll hear the fiddles and banjos of bluegrass players. But they don’t limit their performers to one genre. Roots, rock, country, and pop all have a time to shine. Notable names from the past include Cat Power and West King Street Band.
Organizers close off four streets so artists can set up booths and display their wares. That’s nearly twice the space afforded to food vendors!
In 2022, more than 80 artisans presented finely made crafts to festival-goers. You’ll find hand-thrown pottery, paintings, jewelry, and more. You might cross everything off your holiday shopping list while you’re here.
The 2023 event takes place on Saturday, November 3rd.
Brush up on your knowledge: 7 Styles of Chili (Ranked Best to Worst).
About Cabbagetown, Home of the Chomp and Stomp Festival
The eclectic neighborhood of Cabbagetown is just east of downtown Atlanta. It was the city’s first National Landmark Historic District. Originally an industrial settlement, it grew around the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill starting in the 1880s.
Jacob Elsas, the factory’s owner, was passionate about providing stability for his workers. He offered health care, housing, and fair wages. In turn, the town needed little from the outside world. The tight-knit community became rather isolated.
When the textile factory shut down in 1957, many workers purchased their mill homes from the facility.
It isn’t entirely clear how the community got its name. Depending on who you ask, some say that a train or a Ford Model T derailed near the mill, spilling a load of cabbage into the streets. Residents scooped up as many of the veggies as they could carry.
Others claim that poor inhabitants of the area grew rows of cabbages in their front yards. While wealthier folks spoke of the area disdainfully, the residents wore the name as a badge of honor.
Today, this enclave is known for its vibrant arts scene. Galleries and art installations, such as murals and sculptures, are plentiful.
You’ll also find a host of restaurants featuring various cuisines.
Atlanta’s premier fall festival centers around Cabbagetown Park. The grounds were the neighborhood’s first public green space where residents could enjoy the outdoors.
Also in Atlanta, Sugar Overload: Dessert Wars is the Largest Sweets Festival in the USA.
How Did the Chomp and Stomp Festival Start?
Historically, the village was home to several notable musicians. Perhaps most famous is Fiddlin’ John Carson, who recorded the first ever country music song. His daughter, Moonshine Kate, was one of the first women to enter the industry.
More recently, musician and Duchess of Cabbagetown, Joyce Brookshire, was a fixture in the community.
Why are we telling you all this? Because they’re the heart and soul of this neighborhood and the reason Atlanta’s Chomp and Stomp fall festival even exists.
Organizers with the Cabbagetown Initiative put together this event to honor the great musicians whose music once wafted through these very streets. It’s the neighborhood’s biggest fundraiser of the year. And while the area has come a long way since the old mill days, locals hope to build on their success and keep their neck of the woods vibrant and beautiful.
As their official website states, “…you can bet we’ll honor the sweetest sounding parts of our otherwise troubled past as we forge ahead to a better tomorrow.”
How Much Is Admission to the Festival?
Lucky for you, admission to Atlanta’s favorite fall festival is free. However, you’ll need to pay for a spoon to taste all the regional flavors. And if chili isn’t your thing, don’t worry! Food trucks and local restaurants set up shop to supply eats to the masses. You should be able to find just about anything to please your palate.
If you’re nearby, you can purchase your Official Chomp Spoon ahead of time at Sweet Cheats or Little’s Food Store in Cabbagetown. Bring cash for a $10 pass, or use a card and pay a small convenience fee.
You’ll still be able to taste all your heart desires. On the day of the event, you can purchase your eating utensils at the gate for $15.
Want to make your own? Seriously Good Chili Cookbook: 177 of the Best Recipes in the World.
Where Do the Proceeds Go?
We’re convinced this is the best deal in town. After all, when’s the last time you ate all the chili you could stomach for 15 bucks? The only thing that makes it even sweeter is knowing that proceeds benefit a good cause.
Only about a quarter of revenue goes towards putting on Atlanta’s best fall festival. The other 75% is put straight into Cabbagetown’s parks.
Keeping these public areas thriving takes between $50,000 and $60,000 annually. Funds from Chomp and Stomp help maintain the greenways and keep the party going.
Atlanta’s Chomp and Stomp Satisfies!
Atlanta’s ultimate fall festival is overflowing with delicious eats, hand-crafted artwork, and musical treats for your ears. You can fill your belly, dance on the lawn, and soak up the good vibes of this tight-knit community.
For many years, Cabbagetown residents didn’t have outdoor spaces to enjoy. If eating our weight in chili helps turn the tide, then it’s the least we can do.
Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA
To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).
You should give it a try!
As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.
Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site!
We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below: