About Susan McKee

Susan McKee

Susan McKee is an independent scholar and freelance journalist specializing in history, culture and travel. She honed her craft as a general assignment reporter for more than a decade at a major metropolitan daily newspaper before fleeing corporate journalism for the peripatetic life of a freelancer.

Susan writes for a wide variety of publications, both print and online. Bylines have appeared in Global Traveler USA, JaxFax, HGTV's Front Door, Global Foodie and Road Trips for Foodies.

Latest Posts by Susan McKee

The Vegetarian Festival in Phuket Thailand

September 12, 2014 by  


Dating back as far as 1825, the Vegetarian Festival in which the Chinese community observes a vegetarian diet during the Chinese calendar’s ninth lunar month began with miners and opera troupes believing that a ‘pure’ lifestyle would enhance their connection with the gods.

Today, the tradition is celebrated throughout Thailand by both Chinese and non-Chinese communities alike with a number of festivities and special vegetarian dishes for all to enjoy.

In Phuket, Thailand, the whole town comes together in honor of this event with a procession through the streets to ‘Jui Tui’, the city’s most revered shrine. During the parade participants enact in sacrificial rituals including ‘fire-walking’, with the brave souls walking across burning coals barefoot, ‘bladed ladder climbs’, with performers crossing a ladder made of sharp iron blades and body impalements, each of these deeds represents a sacrifice, with the hopes of earning future protection from harm.


Aside from these religious rites, the festivities include music featuring the drums and other traditional instruments, dancing, fire crackers, rounding off with fireworks in the evenings and an abundance of Thailand’s famous street food featuring much-loved dishes served vegetarian style. Even more special, this year will see two ninth lunar months, occurring only every 100 years; the festival will be celebrated twice, from September 24 until October 2, 2014, and again from October 24 to November 1, 2014.

Top photo courtesy of Lonely Planet & bottom photo Amari Phuket

Contributed by Amari Phuket

The Washington Dungeness Crab + Seafood Festival

September 12, 2014 by  



washingtin_port-angeles_dungenessYet another foodie fest is expanding this fall. The 13th annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival will be three days long: October 10, 11 and 12, 2014, at the City Pier in Port Angeles, Washington (fondly known as the “Home of the Dungeness Crab”).

Hours are 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

Enjoy an old-fashioned “crab-feed” featuring fresh, whole, locally caught crabs, plus a wide variety of seafood and non-seafood dishes served-up by 15 local and regional restaurants.

Live music, a chef demonstration stage, Chowder Cook-Off, Grab-A-Crab Tank Derby, and more than 60 vendor booths plus marine environmental programs round out this signature Northwest event.

The Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival is produced by Olympic Peninsula Celebrations, a Washington State non-profit corporation, and the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Nut Club Fall Festival in Evansville Indiana

September 9, 2014 by  



indiana_evansville_nut-clubSome 135 different food vendors are promised during the 93rd annual event sponsored by the West Side Nut Club and set for October 6 through 11, 2014.

It’ll be held along West Franklin Street in Evansville, Indiana, with most food booths open from noon to 9 p.m. each day.

Oh, yeah: there’ll be carnival rides, entertainment, a “best voice” and other amateur talent contests, basketball contests and three parades.

The West Side Nut Club, a civic organization, was founded in 1921.

A Gettysburg Pennsylvania Guide for Foodies

September 6, 2014 by  




When it comes to the Gettysburg region’s nearly 4 million annual visitors, food is second only to the Civil War.

Pennsylvania’s Adams County has always had great food – incredible restaurants, a distinct agriculture industry, and a growing wine industry that help make the destination one to savor, but the community has taken steps recently that are turning heads in the travel industry.

“Eating is at the heart of all vacations,” said Norris Flowers, President of Destination Gettysburg. “Communities around the country aren’t just looking at food as simply meals that travelers need, but rather experiences that are sometimes at the very core of their getaway.”

As the foodie culture grew around the country over the past several years, so did the passion toward the Gettysburg area’s fruit industry and other farms as more farmers’ markets popped up on roadsides and throughout the community.

From that point, travelers – whether they were here for the Civil War history or not – could take a short drive up into the countryside and visit orchards, buy fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers’ markets and taste wine made right from the vines and fruit trees here in Adams County.

Restaurants have since incorporated local ingredients into their menus, and an awareness toward the culinary experiences in the region has grown – vital components to becoming a culinary destination.

At about the same time, two additional wineries opened their doors and an experience began to take shape. This experience was boosted by the formation of the Gettysburg Wine & Fruit Trail, a collection of orchards, markets and wineries in the scenic countryside.

This spring, with the beginning of the Savor Gettysburg Food Tour – an eight-stop tour through downtown Gettysburg has again taken the destination to a new level in culinary travel. This tour is a three-plus-hour experience, one that not only showcases seven eateries and a wine tasting, but brings visitors up-close to history along the way.

Additionally, the region’s up-and-coming hard cider industry is attracting attention from around the country as this new trend sweeps the tourism industry. Here in Adams County, several cider-makers have begun production in the past two years and we expect more in the near future.

“What’s most exciting about this development is that it defines our destination in its entirety – not just Gettysburg, not just the battlefield, but Adams County as a full getaway,” said Flowers. “This experience is bringing visitors from the streets of Gettysburg into the farms, wineries and restaurants in several communities that surround Gettysburg, and that’s a victory for us all.”

The Heritage Harvest Festival to Celebrate Thomas Jefferson

September 4, 2014 by  



virginia_monticello_harvest-festCelebrate the harvest and the legacy of revolutionary gardener Thomas Jefferson at the eighth annual Heritage Harvest Festival. It will be held on the west lawn of the president’s home at Monticello, Virginia, September 13, 2014 (with pre-fest events September 11 and 12).

Jefferson, fondly known as America’s “Founding Foodie”, championed vegetable cuisine, plant experimentation and sustainable agriculture. Taste a bounty of heirloom fruits and vegetables and explore organic gardening and seed-saving. Saturday’s complete schedule is online and includes activities included in the general admission price as well as premium workshops (such as Herbal Syrups and Elixirs).

You can also learn about Edible Landscaping at a workshop September 11 with edible landscaping pioneer Rosalind Creasy and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange’s Ira Wallace (reservations required).

(Photo courtesy of Heritage Harvest Festival)

Kentucky’s Trimble County Apple Festival

September 4, 2014 by  



kentucky_bedford_appleOf course there’ll be apples at the Trimble County Apple Festival, set for September 13 and 14, 2014, in Bedford, Kentucky. There’ll even be an Apple Pie contest on that Saturday, and many of the food vendors will be selling items made with apples (dumplings, anyone?).

But, since this is a country fest, you’ll also find a quilt raffle and lots of vendors (many of whom will offer apple-themed items). Entertainment features live music, including performances by the Louisville Dulcimer Society.

(Photo courtesy of Trimble County Apple Festival)

The KINOOKUS Food Film Festival in Ston Croatia

September 3, 2014 by  



croatia_ston_kinookusHere’s a film festival with a foodie core. The 4- 8 September 2014, KINOOKUS Food Film Festival (Kinookus FFF), held in Ston, Croatia, September 3 through 7, 2014, is an international festival that aims to promote and preserve the values of the Ston region, including bio-diversity and holistic ecology.

The Festival’s Velika Kamenica (large oyster) award is awarded for the best long feature film, and the Mala Kamenica (small oyster) award is presented for the best short feature film. The awards themselves are created every year by a different artist who is inspired by the materials, colors and shapes of the area.

Ston is centrally located in Dubrovnik-Neretva County and has been famous for its walls, saltpans and gastronomy. The area around Ston is renowned for the growing of shellfish, wines and olive oil.

Kinookus is a food film festival which, in exploring issues of industrial food production and its consequences for the planet, tells the story of ordinary men and women who engage their creativity and resourcefulness in trying to overcome the existing socio-economic model.

The Festival structure (Cinexperience – competition and retrospective, Cinefocus – lectures and meetings, Cinexperiment – educational workshops, Cinelocus – an open-air market for local, traditional and organic products, Unseen – agro-archaeological bike tours) strives to express all the abundance of the story of food as well as different aspects of its profound meaning for the life of mankind.

(Photo courtesy of Kinookus)

The Fourth Annual Hawaii Food + Wine Festival

September 2, 2014 by  



hawaii_oahu_food-wineThe fourth annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival takes place August 29 through September 7, 2014.

The fest features a roster of more than 80 master chefs, culinary personalities, and wine and spirit producers.

Co-founded by two of Hawai‘i’s own James Beard Award-winning chefs, Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, the Festival in Hawai‘i Island, Maui, Honolulu, and Ko Olina Resort will showcase wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, one-of-a-kind excursions and exclusive dining opportunities with dishes highlighting the state’s local produce, seafood, beef and poultry.

(Photo courtesy of Hawaii Food & Wine Festival)

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