Memorial Day weekend in the United States is a time to remember our fallen veterans. Originally called Decoration Day, this holiday was created in the later part of the nineteenth century to commemorate those killed in the United States Civil War. At the end of World War I, it was renamed Memorial Day and expanded to include all American soldiers and sailors killed in combat. But, in remembering, it is also a time to celebrate the country and culture that died to protect. Scheduled for the last Monday in May, this holiday signifies the beginning of summer for many people. It is a day to shake off the dreary bonds of winter and embrace the promise of warm weather and good times.

Throughout the country there are festivals and fairs, celebrations and ceremonies, most of which will include food from the various peoples that make up the fabric of the United States. Here are a few of the many that will take place this year.

Welcome to the 'Mardi Gras of Meat', the Second Annual Great American Barbecue in Kansas City, Kansas. This city, and it's sister city Kansas City Missouri, are located on opposite banks of the Missouri river. Both are famous as centers of the US beef industry. Featured events includes live music, food sampling on the Barbecue Alley, and Hot Air balloon rides. A pass good for the entire weekend is $15, a price that is sure to make this an annual event for years to come.

Trying to cut down on the read meat? Look a little further South. Not to be outdone by the heavy eating of a meat festival, Louisville, Tennessee will offer a lighter fair. On Memorial Day, the 'Taste of Health Food Fest' will be held, featuring samples of local cuisine and products. The festival, which travels around North America each summer, is dedicated to introducing people to a healthier diet and lifestyle. The festival will include dishes from local restaurants, healthy cooking classes, local produce and a bookstore for those who want to further their knowledge in this area.

If you want to split the difference between meat and tofu, the Kodiak Crab Festival in Kodiak, Alaska will be held on Memorial Day weekend. Called the 'Emerald Ilse of Alaska', Kodiak is best known as the home of the the gigantic Kodiak Bears. But it is also home to a thriving King Crab industry, which is celebrated with food, games, and a seafood cook off. The weekend also includes the annual 'Blessing of the Fleet' ceremony, as the crab season begins to move into full gear.

At the other end of the US, in Palatka, Florida, the 'Blue Crab Festival' gets underway to celebrate the King Crab's Atlantic cousin. Held Memorial Day Weekend for the past 18 years, more that 150 events and activities are planned. Arts and crafts, antiques, parades, kids rides and even a pig race, to name just a few. And of course, food. The Florida State Seafood cook off, (featuring the Florida Blue Crab of course) will be one of the highlights of the weekend.

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