All things great and small are celebrated during summer's festivals -- from towering lumberjacks (in Wisconsin) to itsy-bitsy fire ants (in Texas). You can spend your nights singing in Oklahoma or watching the midnight sun in Alaska. Games have their day (a hula competition in Hawaii and cribbage in South Dakota) as do flowers (petunias in Illinois and roses in Oregon). But by far the most feted is food -- from uncommonly good strawberries (in Michigan) to simply uncommon bear (in Washington). So sink your teeth into this regional look at summer festivals across the nation.
New Castle, Del., a neat old town, celebrates Separation Day (when the state stiffed England) with fun and fireworks June 7. And Wilmington steps back in time July 12-13 for its Victorian Ice Cream Festival.
Contact: Delaware, 800- 441-8846
You have until July 27 to catch an important exhibit of Picasso's early works (1892-1906) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The Mall is the site of the yearly Festival of American Folklife, June 25-29 and July 2-6, and nowhere are the Fourth of July festivities (including a free National Symphony concert on the Capitol steps) quite as festive as they are here.
Contact: District of Columbia, 202-789-7000.
Crabs race all over Maryland, including in St. Michaels at Crab Days '97 Aug. 2-3 and at the 50th Annual National Hard Crab Derby and Fair Aug. 28-31 in Crisfield. More than $700,000 in prize money will be on the line (literally) at the White Marlin Open, a fishing competition Aug. 4-8 in Ocean City.
Contact: Maryland, 800- 543-1036.
The seafood will be fresh at the New Jersey Fresh Seafood Festival June 7-8 in Atlantic City. July 12 is the date of the Whitesbog Blueberry Festival, or lift a glass of wine to Frank Sinatra in his hometown when Hoboken holds its St. Anne's Italian Festival July 20-26.
Contact: New Jersey, 800- 537-7397.
The New York Jazz Festival brightens the Big Apple June 17-30. The 128th running of the Travers Stakes is Aug. 23 at Saratoga, and there will be no absence of mallets at the 14th Croquet Tournament and 1930s Weekend Aug. 16-17 in Germantown.
Contact: New York, 800- 225-5697.
Philadelphia's Summer Mummers Parade struts from City Hall to the Liberty Bell July 1. Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Regatta -- which includes boat races, music, balloon races and lumberjack competitions -- runs Aug. 2-3 and Aug. 7-10. Kutztown honors its Pennsylvania Dutch heritage with a festival June 28-July 8.
Contact: Pennsylvania, 800- 847-4872.
New England region
Check out the old lighthouse, then enjoy the Blessing of the Fleet and Lobster Feast July 26-27 in Stonington, Conn. Mystic Seaport has its Taste of History Food Festival Aug. 8-10. And the thing about oysters and months with an 'r' won't stop Milford from holding its Oyster Festival Aug. 16.
Contact: Connecticut, 800- 282-6863.
Be in Maine June 21 for the eighth Annual Bar Harbor Lobster Race, two hours after the sixth Annual Bar Harbor Waiter/Waitress Race. Lisbon Falls holds its Moxie Festival (Moxie? Explains a Lisbon Fallsian: "It tastes like a very fresh root beer that's to me.") on July 12. And for information on the 50th Annual Maine Lobster Festival (July 31-Aug. 3 in Rockland), call 800-LOBCLAW.
Contact: Maine, 800-533-9595.
In Gloucester, Mass., the fishing fleet is blessed at the St. Peter's Fiesta June 26-29. Boston's Harborfest is July 1-6, and New Bedford celebrates its Portuguese heritage July 31-Aug. 3 with its Feast of the Blessed Sacrament. Two festivals start Sept. 5 on Cape Cod: the Bourne Scallop Festival, through Sept. 7 in Buzzard's Bay; and the Harwich Cranberry Harvest Festival, through Sept. 14 in Harwich.
Contact: Massachusetts, 800- 447-6277.
Portsmouth, N.H., invites all to its 13th Chowder Festival June 7. July 25-27, Charlestown commemorates the 250th anniversary of the Siege of 1747 (as if we needed a reminder). Colebrook holds its sixth Annual North Country Moose Festival (with moose-calling, of course) Aug. 22-24.
Contact: New Hampshire, 800- 386-4664.
In Newport, R.I., the 29th Annual Music Festival is July 11-27, the Folk Festival is Aug. 8-10, and the 43rd Jazz Festival is Aug. 15-17. Wakefield welcomes all to its South County Heritage Seafood Festival July 18-20, and Charleston's is Aug. 2-3.
Contact: Rhode Island, 800- 556-2484.
New England's oldest and largest quilt festival is July 18-20 in Northfield, Vt., and Bennington's 33rd Battle Day Weekend is Aug. 15-17. Hardwick holds its 16th Annual Fiddlers Contest July 26. And if you've always wanted to dowse, the 37th Annual Dowsing School and Convention is July 29-Aug. 3 in Lyndonville.
Contact: Vermont, 800- 837-6668.