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Enjoy a whole day and all sorts of activities and celebrations dedicated just to this simple-yet-complicated ring of bread. That’s right, it’s time for National BagelFest Day! 

History of National BagelFest Day

National BagelFest Day was founded by Murray Lender, who was the owner of the American bagel chain, Lender’s Bagels and the bagel factory behind the company, which started operation in Mattoon, Illinois in 1986. As the owner of the company that brought the factory to the tiny town, Lender wanted to do something nice for the people, so he initiated hosting a free bagel breakfast.

Since that time, more than 35 years later, BagelFest has been celebrated annually in Mattoon and it has grown into a larger celebration that sometimes spans over several days. Activities for BagelFest have included a Bagel Baby contest, a Miss BagelFest competition, parades, live music and so much more.

In a slightly different vein from the long standing tradition of National BagelFest Day in Illinois, more recent BagelFest options have also popped up in what may be considered the American home of bagels – New York City. Featuring a Best Bagel contest from different companies, bagel classes, bagel tours and tons of other activities, this version has been celebrated over a weekend in late autumn since 2020.

No matter when it started or where the festival takes place, National BagelFest Day acts as a perfect reminder of what amazing food bagels are!

How to Celebrate National BagelFest Day

Show some love on National BagelFest Day with some of these fun and delicious ideas:

Enjoy Some Bagels

Sesame seed, blueberry, everything, pumpernickel or poppyseed, when it comes to delicious bagels there are dozens of options to choose from! While the plain option is certainly a classic that can be paired with a wide range of toppings or “schmear”, there are also others to choose from such as whole grain, cinnamon raisin and sourdough. Honestly, there are too many to list, and probably too many to try all in one day on National BagelFest Day, but that’s okay if the celebration rolls over into the week – or the whole month, even!

Try Unique Bagel Toppings

In addition to the traditional cream cheese or butter, bagels can act as a canvas for all sorts of exciting toppings. And National BagelFest Day is just the time to get creative. Go for peanut butter and banana, avocado and fried egg, smoked salmon, or even ricotta with blueberries. The sky is the limit when it comes to adventurous bagels!

Attend BagelFest in Mattoon, Illinois

Those who live nearby, or others who may live far away but are always looking for quirky little small town events to visit, can pop over to Mattoon, Illinois in late July to find the entire town of 16,870 people all decked out and ready to celebrate bagels! Okay, maybe not every person will show up but many of them do and it promises to be loads of fun for everyone!

Make Bagels at Home

These soft, chewy and delicious bread rings may be easier to make than most people think. Sure, they take some effort because the dough needs to be boiled and then baked, but the results can be simply amazing. Grab some online recipes and tips, then see how it goes!

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