MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Summer festivals 2015


  • (May 17 – 24)North Country Dylan Celebration

    Duluth, MN

    The town in which Bob Dylan was born its native son with pub trivia, a poetry showcase, a Blood on the Tracks Express rolling musical revue on Thursday, a singer-songwriter contest Friday and, on Saturday, a bus tour to Hibbing and back and an evening acoustic salute to Dylan.




  • (May 21 – 25)North Iowa Band Festival

    Mason City, IA

    There's a carnival, craft show and car cruise, but don't miss the 10 a.m. Saturday band parade in this northern Iowa town, which Meredith Willson made famous in "The Music Man.''

  • (May 21 – 24)Festival of Nature

    Baileys Harbor, WI

    Ridges Sanctuary hosts this annual festival, with programs and field trips on wildflowers, birds, trees and insects held around Door County.

  • (May 22 – 25)ChocolateFest

    Burlington, WI

    This big festival in southeast Wisconsin features a battle of the chefs, the Project Yum-way candy-wrapper design contest and chocolate-eating contests, plus a crafts fair and carnival.

  • (May 22 – 25)World's Largest Brat Fest

    Madison, WI

    There's music on four stages, with headliners including the Charlie Daniels Band, plus the world's largest touring grill (a Johnsonville semi that can cook 750 brats at a time), the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile,  carnival rides and Sunday fireworks. Admission is free. Outside the Alliant Energy Center.

  • (May 22 – 23)CelebrAsian Asian Heritage Festival

    Des Moines, IA

    This festival at Western Gateway Park features martial arts, lion dancers, chopstick races and a fashion show.

  • (May 22 – 25)Chicago Gaelic Park Irish Festival

    Oak Forest, IL

    In this west Chicago suburb, there's lots of music, plus a petting zoo, hurling, theater, Irish dog and pony exhibits and red hair, freckle and bonnie baby contests.

  • (May 23 – 25)Fort Michilimackinac Pageant

    Mackinaw City, MI

    This free pageant at Colonial Michilimackinac features a cast of more than 400, re-enacting events that took place between the French, British and Indian tribes on June 2, 1763.

    There are also 18th-century fashion shows, voyageur contests, kids' games, a Saturday parade and fireworks.

  • (May 23 – 24)Native American Festival

    St. Ignace, MI

    This family-friendly festival at the Museum of Ojibwa Culture features drumming, dancing, singing, Ojibwa games, artisan workshops and Sunday mass in Ojibwa.

  • (May 24)BobFest

    Spring Green, WI

    The Spring Green General Store in this artistic town on the Wisconsin River celebrates Bob Dylan's 74th birthday with free outdoor music.

  • (May 29 – 30)Street Faire at the Lakes

    Detroit Lakes, MN

    This western-Minnesota lake town hosts a juried arts show with music, fair food and a beer garden.

  • (May 29 – 31)Gospel Festival

    Chicago, IL

    This free music festival Millennium Park also includes an art fair and a kids' activity zone.

  • (May 29 – 31)Festa Italia

    Fitchburg, WI

    The heritage festival in this Madison suburb features folk dancing, a puppet show, a pasta-eating contest and vintage baseball as well as bocce ball.

  • (May 30)Chocolate Fest

    Hortonville, WI

    The festival in this small town just west of Appleton features a chocolate-eating contest, a Tour de Chocolate bike ride, a bicycle rodeo, an Artisan Village and fireworks.

  • (May 30 – 31)Rivertown Art Festival

    Stillwater, MN

    More than 100 artists set up along the St. Croix River for the valley's largest art fair.


  • (Jun 5 – 7)Buffalo Days

    Luverne, MN

    This festival in the southwest corner of Minnesota features a cow-chip throwing contest, fire-truck ladder rides, duck races, an arts show and a big parade on Saturday.


  • (Jun 5 – 14)Lilac Festival

    Mackinac Island, MI

    Most of the events of this festival charge a fee, except for the closing-day grand parade, but the island really is gorgeous when its lilacs are blooming.

  • (Jun 5 – 7)Fresh Art Spring Tour

    Lake Pepin, WI

    Artists' studios and gardens will be open along the Mississippi and in the bluffs between Maiden Rock and Pepin in western Wisconsin.

  • (Jun 5 – 7)Milk Days

    Harvard, IL

    The festival in this small town just south of Lake Geneva, Wis., is the longest running in the state. There are milk-drinking contests, milking demonstrations, cow-chip lotto, bed races and a parade at 1 p.m. Saturday.

  • (Jun 5 – 7)Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival

    Little Chute, WI

    This Fox Cities festival includes cheese-curd eating, cheese-carving and cheesecake contests and a 10:30 a.m. Saturday cheese parade.

  • (Jun 5 – 7)Edina Art Fair

    Edina, MN

    The juried show in this posh southern Minneapolis suburb draws 375 exhibitors and 60,000 people.

  • (Jun 5 – 7)Spring Art Tour

    Mount Horeb, WI

    Artists open their studios in Mount Horeb and other towns in the Wisconsin River valley: Mazomanie, Black Earth, Cross Plains, Blue Mounds and Verona.

  • (Jun 5 – 7)Iowa Arts Festival

    Iowa City, IA

    This free downtown festival features an art show, a Global Village, a Culinary Row and music and dance. Sunday is Children's Day, with 10 booths of hands-on activities.

  • (Jun 5 – 7)2 Rivers Wine & Jazz Festival

    Ottawa, IL

    The festival in this town on the Fox and Illinois rivers features wine from 25 Illinois vineyards and jazz and blues in Washington Park.

  • (Jun 6)Rhubarb Festival

    Lanesboro, MN

    There’s a Rhubarb Olympics, featuring the Rhubarb Stalk Throw and Green Eggs and Rhubarb, and a Rhubarb Rant Speakers Corner for opinionated folks. The Rhubarb Sisters entertain. It's 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Sylvan Park.

  • (Jun 6)Milwaukee Highland Games

    Wauwatosa, WI

    Listen to bagpipe bands, eat Scottish food and watch sheepdogs, Highland dancers and athletes.

  • (Jun 6 – 7)Outta Sight Kite Flight

    Kenosha, WI

    Fly kites along Lake Michigan in Kennedy Park.

  • (Jun 7)Grand Old Day

    St. Paul, MN

    When the weather's nice, crowds turn out for this street fair, during which Grand Avenue is divided into "districts'': entertainment, family fun and sports. A parade starts at 9:30 a.m. from Grand and Dale.

  • (Jun 7)Ride the Drive

    Madison, WI

    Ride, walk or skate a car-free five-mile loop along Lake Monona, around the State Capitol and through downtown. There are also activity villages, food and music.

  • (Jun 7)Wisconsin state-parks open house

    All state parks, WI

    Visit a state park without paying the daily vehicle fee, $7 for residents and $10 for non-residents.

  • (Jun 7)Model A Day

    Sharon, WI

    In this hamlet near Lake Geneva, on the Illinois border, Model A's from the 1920s and '30s line main street, and people dressed as gangsters and flappers promenade in front of historic buildings.

  • (Jun 11 – 14)Irish Festival

    Oshkosh, WI

    This festival in Riverside Park on the Fox River includes Irish music, food and dancing.

  • (Jun 11 – 14)Steel Bridge SongFest

    Sturgeon Bay, WI

    More than 150 musicians and songwriters perform in more than 15 venues around town to benefit the historic Michigan Avenue canal bridge.

  • (Jun 11 – 14)Butterfest

    Sparta, WI

    There's an arts and crafts show, flea market and carnival but also a milking contest, firemen's water fight and a parade at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

  • (Jun 11 – 14)Pride of the Fox Riverfest

    St. Charles, IL

    See dragon-boat racing, a water-ski show, sand sculpting and car shows, all along the Fox River.

  • (Jun 11 – 13)Wizard of Oz Festival

    Grand Rapids, MN

    In Judy Garland's hometown, there will be a trivia game, costume and singing contests, a petting zoo, a picnic, talks and a free showing of the famous movie under the stars.

  • (Jun 12 – 14)Blues Festival

    Chicago, IL

    Local bluesman Buddy Guy headlines the largest of Chicago's free music festivals, drawing 750,000 people to Grant Park.

  • (Jun 12 – 13)Stamman Scandinavian Folk Festival

    Nisswa, MN

    This festival in the Brainerd Lakes area features visiting musicians from Denmark, Sweden and Norway as well as many North American folk musicians.

  • (Jun 12 – 14)Polish Fest

    Milwaukee, WI

    This big festival on the lakefront features lots of rollicking, zydeco-laced polka and hearty food.

  • (Jun 12 – 14)Lighthouse Festival

    Door County, WI

    The Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay offers tours of the peninsula's 10 lighthouses by foot, boat, trolley and minibus. Tickets go on sale April 1; some tours sell out quickly.

  • (Jun 12 – 14)Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival

    Worthington, MN

    This southern Minnesota town is a windsurfing hot spot and hosts an annual windsurfing tournament on Lake Okabena. There's also live music, a bike ride and Arts on the Shore.

  • (Jun 12 – 14)Ribfest Chicago

    Chicago, IL

    This street festival in the Northcenter neighborhood, on Lincoln Avenue between Irving Park Road and Warner Avenue, features barbecue plus indie, roots, rock and alt country music.

    There's a Kids Square with games and a rib-eating contest Friday with professional eaters.

  • (Jun 13 – 14)Wells Street/Old Town art fairs

    Chicago, IL

    Together, the Wells Street Art Festival and nearby Old Town Art Fair two fairs have more than 500 exhibitors and draw 110,000 visitors.

  • (Jun 13 – 14)Spring Iowa Barn Tour

    Northeast, IA

    This year's tour of historic barns is in Grundy, Bremer and Black Hawk counties around the Cedar Falls-Waterloo area.

  • (Jun 13)Northern Spark

    Minneapolis, MN

    From sunset to sunrise, artists perform a variety of projects at museums and outdoor venues along the riverfront and around Minneapolis.

  • (Jun 13)Wine & Food Festival

    Leland, MI

    Sample local wines and listen to music at this festival on the Leelanau Peninsula.

  • (Jun 16 – 21)Steamboat Days

    Burlington, IA

    There's a carnival, music on two stages, a parade at 11 a.m. Saturday and a Sunday art fair on Snake Alley.

  • (Jun 17 – 21)Steamboat Days

    Winona, MN

    The main event is the 12:31 p.m. Sunday parade, one of the region's largest. There's also a carnival, craft show, power-boat races and car show.

  • (Jun 18 – 21)Harborfest

    South Haven, MI

    There will be a wooden boat show, kids' activities, music and a craft fair.

  • (Jun 19 – 21)Great Galena Balloon Race

    Galena, IL

    Eagle Ridge Resort hosts two balloon races, two night glows and rides for the public. An Alefest Friday includes tastings of more than 100 beers.

  • (Jun 19 – 21)Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival

    Grand Marais, MN

    The harbor-side North House Folk School on Lake Superior kicks off summer with a boat parade, dancing, craft demonstrations, mini-courses and a solstice parade.

  • (Jun 19 – 21)Bridgefest

    Houghton/Hancock, MI

    There will be helicopter rides, a water-ski show, a Friday parade and Saturday fireworks. The two towns are linked by the Keweenaw Peninsula's massive Portage Lift Bridge.

  • (Jun 19 – 20)More on 34

    Aurora to Galesburg, IL

    A 131-mile yard sale along U.S. 34 from Aurora to Galesburg, with events in many towns.

  • (Jun 19 – 21)Old Canal Days

    Lockport, IL

    Lockport was the headquarters of the Illinois & Michigan Canal and site of the first lock; now it's on the National Register of Historic Places.

    At its festival, there are historic reenactors, horse-drawn carriage tours of the canal, duck races, a juried craft show, music and a 6 p.m. Friday parade.

  • (Jun 19 – 21)GermanFest

    St. Paul, MN

    This free festival at the Historic Schmidt Brewery features German folklore, storytelling, games and history as well as food, beer and music.

  • (Jun 20)Fyr Bal Festival

    Ephraim, WI

    It's the 51st annual Scandinavian midsummer festival in this Door County village. There's a regatta, historic walking tours, artisan market, trolley rides, Fur Ball pet parade, cake walk and ice-cream and cherry-pie eating contests.

  • (Jun 20 – 21)Midsummer Fest

    Coon Valley, WI

    This family festival at Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center, in the coulees near La Crosse, features the best of Scandinavian culture: food, music and crafts. For children, there will be a visit from the trolls by the bridge, fjord horses and a scavenger hunt.

  • (Jun 20 – 21)Stone Arch Bridge Festival

    Minneapolis, MN

    On the banks of the Mississippi, 250 artists show their wares around St. Anthony Main. There are also three stages, art for kids and a car show.

  • (Jun 20 – 21)Custer Fair

    Evanston, IL

    This big fair in the Custer Avenue-Main Street shopping district features 250 artists, 50 variety performers, a medicine show, powwow dancing, children's activities and music on two stages.

  • (Jun 23 – 28)Swedish Days Festival

    Geneva, IL

    This Fox River town on the western edge of Chicago offers music, a zipline, a carnival,  a Swedish cottage walk and a big parade at 1 p.m. Sunday. 

  • (Jun 24 – 28)Walldogs in Delavan

    Delavan, WI

    More than 150 artists from around the country will descend on this lake town near Lake Geneva and, over five days, paint 18 murals depicting its history. The town is turning it into a party, with art, music and movies.

  • (Jun 25 – 28)Musky Fest

    Hayward, WI

    A carnival, crafts, ice cream-eating contest and lots of festivities downtown, capped by the 1:30 p.m. Sunday parade.

  • (Jun 25 – 27)Twin Cities Jazz Festival

    St. Paul, MN

    Listen to jazz in Mears Park, in St. Paul's Lowertown.

  • (Jun 26 – 28)Water Ski Days

    Lake City, MN

    There's music, an arts and crafts fair and, on Sunday, a parade followed by a water-ski show on Lake Pepin, where water-skiing was invented.

  • (Jun 26 – 28)Des Moines Arts Festival

    Des Moines, IA

    This big, juried arts fair at Western Gateway Park downtown includes street theater, live music and a film festival.

  • (Jun 26 – 27)Midwest Viking/Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival

    Moorhead, MN

    This festival at the Hjemkomst Center includes demonstrations, performances and goods that tell about society and culture in Viking-age Scandinavia and beyond.

  • (Jun 26 – 27)Engineers Day/Bridge Walk

    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

    It's the biggest week of the year for boat nerds at the Soo Locks. Friday is the Engineers Day open house (people can walk across the locks). Saturday is the 2.8-mile International Bridge Walk (people can walk to Canada).


  • (Jun 27 – 28)Strawberry Festival

    Cedarburg, WI

    During this popular event in an old mill town north of Milwaukee, there's music, kids' games, shortcake-eating and bubblegum-blowing contests and strawberries in everything — brats, wine, slush. 

  • (Jun 27 – 28)Afton Strawberry Festival

    Afton, MN

    This village on the St. Croix River revives an old tradition with a European-style flea market, art fair, music and children's activities.


  • (Jun 27)Cardboard Cup Regatta

    Crystal Lake, IL

    Watch or enter the cardboard-boat races on Main Beach, where prizes are awarded in many categories.

  • (Jun 27)Shake the Lake

    Madison, WI

    This pre-Fourth festival on the shores of Lake Monona replaces Rhythm & Booms and includes live bands, bike polo, a roller-derby exhibition and fireworks.

  • (Jun 27)Pastyfest

    Calumet, MI

    This Keewenaw Peninsula town celebrates the down-home miners' lunch with a parade, bakeoff and games.

  • (Jun 30 – Jul 5)Summerfest

    Milwaukee, WI

    They call this the world's largest music festival. More than 800 acts perform on 11 stages along Lake Michigan.


  • (Jul 1 – 5)Eyes to the Skies Festival

    Lisle, IL

    This large festival on the west edge of Chicago features a daily hot-air balloon launches, glows and fireworks shows, plus children's activities and a craft fair.

  • (Jul 1 – 5)Petunia Festival

    Dixon, IL

    This festival in the Hometown of Ronald Reagan features music, a carnival, fireworks and a Sunday parade.

  • (Jul 1 – 4)Riverfest

    La Crosse, WI

    This big riverfront festival includes water-ski and air shows, an arts and crafts fair, a lip-sync contest, a dragon-boat race, Venetian and family parades and music on four stages.

  • (Jul 1 – 5)Sawdust Days

    Oshkosh, WI

    This festival in Menominee Park, next to Lake Winnebago, celebrates the logging era, when Oshkosh was known as Sawdust City. It includes a historic village, flea market, carnival, Fourth of July fireworks and music on four stages, including Sabor-a-Mexico.

  • (Jul 2 – 4)Iowa City Jazz Festival

    Iowa City, IA

    This downtown festival features a Culinary Row, Fun Zone for kids and Sunday fireworks in addition to music.

  • (Jul 2 – 5)Ribfest

    Naperville, IL

    Big-name bands perform in Knoch Park, where there's also magic shows, kids' games, food and fireworks on the last evening.

  • (Jul 2 – 5)Taste of Minnesota

    Waconia, MN

    This free family festival features food, music, games and fireworks at the Carver County Fairgrounds in this southwest Minneapolis exurb.

  • (Jul 3 – 5)Blues Festival

    Thunder Bay, ON

    This festival has a scenic location in Marina Park, on the Lake Superior waterfront.

  • (Jul 3 – 4)Red White and Boom

    Minneapolis, MN

    On Friday, there's the Hot Dam 5K fun run, followed by music and a movie. On Saturday, there's a half-marathon in the morning, and music and family activities from 6 to 10 p.m., followed by fireworks.

    Festivities are along the riverfront downtown.


  • (Jul 4 – 11)National Cherry Festival

    Traverse City, MI

    This town on Lake Michigan attracts half a million people to events that include air shows, an arts fair, music, races, the big Cherry Royale Parade and many contests, including pie-eating and pit-spitting.

  • (Jul 4)Fourth Fest

    Duluth, MN

    Duluth claims to have Minnesota's largest fireworks show, part of festivities in Bayfront Festival Park.

  • (Jul 4)Perkinstown Outhouse Race

    Medford, WI

    Bring your own throne to this race at Perkinstown Park. Teams of four pushers and one squatter compete for the titles "hardest pushers'' and "prettiest potty.''

  • (Jul 8 – 12)Taste of Chicago

    Chicago, IL

    The big free festival in Grant Park offers lots of food and music.

  • (Jul 8 – 12)Karl Oskar Days

    Lindstrom, MN

    The festival in this Swedish town just north of the Twin Cities features fireworks, a car show and a parade.

  • (Jul 9 – 12)Winnipeg Folk Festival

    Winnipeg, MB

    This easy-going, family-friendly festival features 70 performers, food and hand-made art from around the world plus a fun play area for children.

    Many people camp on-site at Birds Hill Provincial Park. Tickets are cheapest when bought in advance.

  • (Jul 9 – 12)Bastille Days

    Milwaukee, WI

    Look for minstrels, beignets, French lessons, a Mardi Gras celebration and a 43-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower in Cathedral Square Park.

  • (Jul 9 – 11)Heart of the North Rodeo

    Spooner, WI

    Look for the four R's in this western Wisconsin town: roping, bull riding, steer wrestling and barrel racing. A parade is on Saturday.

  • (Jul 9 – 11)Iola Old Car Show

    Iola, WI

    This show and swap meet brings up to 130,000 people to this village east of Stevens Point.

  • (Jul 9 – 12)Balloon Rally/Ribfest/Chalkfest

    Wausau, WI

    At the airport, Balloon Rally & Glow features barnstormer plane rides, kite-flying, pig-racing, music and fireworks. Also at the airport, the Big Bull Falls BBQ Ribfest is Thursday through Saturday.

    On Saturday and Sunday, artists decorate downtown during Chalkfest.

  • (Jul 9 – 12)Windmill City Festival

    Batavia, IL

    There's a carnival, pet parade, ice-cream eating contest and live bands in the town on the Fox River.

  • (Jul 10 – 19)Northwest Water Carnival

    Detroit Lakes, MN

    This big festival celebrates its 81st year with a sand-castle contest, water fights, ship-building (in less than 30 minutes), beer tasting, watermelon feed, bike tour and more. On the last day, there's a big parade at 1 p.m.

  • (Jul 10 – 12)Blissfest

    Cross Village, MI

    This family-friendly folk and roots festival on a farm includes reggae, country, zydeco, jazz and Celtic music on three stages and four workshop areas. There's also a juried arts and crafts fair. Rustic camping is available.

  • (Jul 10 – 12)Wild Rice Festival

    Deer River, MN

    This northern town near Grand Rapids offers a powwow Friday, wild-rice lunch, bike rodeo, sawdust scramble, singing competition and fireworks Saturday and a parade Sunday.

  • (Jul 10 – 19)Fiesta Days

    McHenry, IL

    There's a Music Fest, carnival and car and motorcycle s Petersen Park the first weekend and a children's ice cream social, Shakespeare Festival, arts and crafts fair and a Sunday parade the second weekend in Veteran's Memorial Park.

  • (Jul 10 – 12)Bicycle, Blues and BBQ Festival

    Clear Lake, IA

    There are professional races plus a tour and family fun rides at this festival based in City Park.

  • (Jul 10 – 12)South Shore Frolics

    Milwaukee, WI

    This festival in Bay View's South Shore Park includes bands, games, a car show, nightly fireworks and a parade Saturday.

  • (Jul 10 – 12)Sub Fest

    Manitowoc, WI

    The first annual fest at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, home of the USS Cobia, features a sub-eating contest, music, movies, a parade of boats and fireworks on Saturday and a water-ski show on Sunday.

  • (Jul 11 – 12)Phelps Mill Festival

    Phelps, MN

    There's a juried arts and crafts fair, children's activities and music in this bucolic, tucked-away park along the Otter Tail River, next to an 1889 brick and clapboard mill that's open for tours.

    The hamlet of Phelps is just west of Otter Tail Lake and north of Underwood.

  • (Jul 11 – 12)Art Fair On/Off the Square

    Madison, WI

    Nearly 500 artists from around the nation will be selling on Capitol Square and 140 Wisconsin artists around Monona Terrace, attracting more than 200,000 people.

  • (Jul 11 – 12)Grand Marais Arts Festival

    Grand Marais, MN

    This juried art show along the Lake Superior harbor includes children's activities, art demonstrations, a pie social and live music.

  • (Jul 15 – 19)Sinclair Lewis Days

    Sauk Centre, MN

    The hometown of the Nobel Prize-winning author celebrates with turtle races, bicycle stunts, a hot dog-eating contest, a craft fair, music and a parade at 7 p.m. Saturday.

  • (Jul 17 – 19)Bavarian Blast

    New Ulm, MN

    "Das Fest Mit Fun'' features German music, food and beer at the Brown County Fair Grounds in this Minnesota River Valley town. The big parade is Sunday.

  • (Jul 17 – 19)Highland Fest

    St. Paul, MN

    This street fair in St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood includes an arts fair, music, carnival rides, wiener-dog races and an all-Ford car and truck show.

  • (Jul 17 – 19)Festa Italiana

    Milwaukee, WI

    At the lakefront Henry Maier Festival Park, there's cannoli-eating and pizza-making contests, celebrity chefs, a bocce ball tournament, parades at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, nightly fireworks and music and dance on five stages and an opera tent.

  • (Jul 17 – 19)Honor the Earth Pow-wow

    Hayward, WI

    The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa hold one of the largest powwows in North America, with dancing, singing and crafts plus a cooking contest, run/walk and softball tournament.

  • (Jul 17 – 19)Waterford Balloonfest

    Waterford, WI

    The festival in this town between Milwaukee and Lake Geneva includes evening glows, a flight competition, helicopter rides, a craft fair and kids' activities.

  • (Jul 17 – 19)Log Jam

    Stillwater, MN

    This music festival along the St. Croix River also features lumberjack shows, a downhill derby, hammerschlagen and rides on gondolas, pontoon boats and tethered hot-air balloons. A parade is at 1 p.m. Sunday.

  • (Jul 17 – 19)Water Days

    New London, MN

    In this lakes town near Sibley State Park, there's a water-ski show Friday, 11 a.m. parade and fireworks Saturday and a six-part theater-by-boat tour on Sunday, plus music, tournaments and a carnival.

  • (Jul 18)Stockholm Art Fair

    Stockholm, WI

    This hamlet on Lake Pepin, a favorite day trip destination for Twin Citians, becomes a shopping mecca during this big fair.

  • (Jul 18 – 19)Agate Days

    Moose Lake, MN

    See the beautiful stones on display, then dig for them at 2 p.m. Saturday during the Agate Stampede, when a load of rocks seeded with 400 pounds agates and $400 in quarters is dumped downtown.

    There's also music and an art fair.

  • (Jul 18)Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival

    Duluth, MN

    Hear island music on Lake Superior, from Bayfront Festival Park.

  • (Jul 18 – 25)Charlevoix Venetian Festival

    Charlevoix, MI

    A week of music and games winds up with an 11 a.m. street parade and, at dusk, a lighted boat parade followed by fireworks.

  • (Jul 18 – 19)Ethnic Arts Festival

    Evanston, IL

    Dawes Park on Lake Michigan turns into a global village for this celebration of music, dance, arts and food.

  • (Jul 18)Minnesota Scottish Fair & Highland Games

    Eagan, MN

    This fest south of St. Paul features Celtic music, a British car show, a harp competition and heavy games -- hammer throwing, sheaf tossing, caber turning and the stone put.

  • (Jul 18)Port Fish Day

    Port Washington, WI

    The world's largest one-day outdoor fish fry also includes classic car and arts and crafts shows, soccer water fights, a smoked-fish eating contest, music on three stages, a parade and fireworks.

  • (Jul 19)Woodstock Folk Festival

    Woodstock, IL

    Listen to music on the square in this town just over the Wisconsin border from Lake Geneva.

  • (Jul 19)Chinatown Summer Fair

    Chicago, IL

    There's a Lion Dance, Chinese classical dance and music, demonstrations of martial arts and displays of ancient art forms and disciplines plus a petting zoo, pony rides and cutest baby and a "hot legs" contest for men.

  • (Jul 20 – 26)EAA AirVenture

    Oshkosh, WI

    This huge Experimental Aircraft Association festival includes air shows, fireworks, big-name concerts, children's activities, workshops, exhibits and rides in historic aircraft.

    Reserve lodgings early; it fills rooms within a 60-mile radius.

  • (Jul 21 – 26)Waterama

    Glenwood, MN

    This festival on the shores of Lake Minnewaska is famous for its lighted pontoon parade, followed by fireworks. On Sunday, there's a parade on land, followed by a water-ski show.

  • (Jul 22 – 25)Aquatennial

    Minneapolis, MN

    A shortened lakes festival includes the Torchlight Parade, water-ski shows and Saturday fireworks, but not the popular milk-carton races and sandcastle contest.

  • (Jul 23 – 25)Lumberjack World Championships

    Hayward, WI

    You can't see this kind of thing just anywhere: cut-throat log rolling, boom running, springboard chopping and speed climbing.

  • (Jul 23 – 25)Nordic Fest

    Decorah, IA

    Ole and Lena host this friendly, authentic, very fun and very large festival of Scandinavian culture. The parade, one of the region's best, is at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

  • (Jul 23 – 26)Sweet Corn Days

    Elkader, IA

    In addition to free sweet corn, there will be Friday fireworks, a doughnut-hole eating contest, a kiddie tractor pull, carnival rides and a parade at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

  • (Jul 24 – 26)North Star Stampede

    Effie, MN

    The rodeo in this town of 90 is a good excuse to explore the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway, which winds through Chippewa National Forest north of Grand Rapids.

  • (Jul 24 – 26)Pierogi Fest

    Whiting, IN

    This suburb of Chicago exalts the plump Eastern European dumplings, filled with cheese, mashed potatoes or sauerkraut, with pierogi eating and tossing contests, a Mr. Pierogi songfest and a Polka Parade.

  • (Jul 24 – 25)Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant

    Walnut Grove, MN

    The festival in this western Minnesota town revolves around the book "On the Banks of Plum Creek.'' Family Festivals are held each Saturday.

  • (Jul 24 – Aug 1)National Balloon Classic

    Indianola, IA

    This giant hot-air balloon festival includes daily flights, rides for the public, music, night glows, fireworks and a parade.

  • (Jul 24 – 26)German Fest

    Milwaukee, WI

    Look for dachshunds, dirndls and lots of oompah music at this big party at Henry Maier Festival Park on Lake Michigan.

  • (Jul 24 – Aug 2)Coast Guard Festival

    Grand Haven, MI

    There's nightly entertainment on the waterfront, a downtown carnival, tours of Coast Guard cutters, a Grand Parade and fireworks.

  • (Jul 24 – 25)Riverboat Days

    Wabasha, MN

    There's a lighted boat parade Friday, and on Saturday an arts fair, duck derby, skateboard tournament and Grande Parade.

  • (Jul 25 – 26)Air and Water Show

    Milwaukee, WI

    This show, between Bradford and McKinley beaches on the lakefront, features many aerobatics.

  • (Jul 25)ArtBike + ArtCar Parade

    Minneapolis, MN

    Decorated bikes, cars and one Couchmobile will circle Lake Harriet at 6 p.m. Everyone is welcome to bring a decorated conveyance and join the parade; meet at 5 p.m. at the Rose Garden.

  • (Jul 25)Circus Celebration Day

    Baraboo, WI

    In the downtown square, there will be circus-themed performances, walking tours, music, children's activities and a Big Top parade.

  • (Jul 25 – 26)Rendezvous at the Sault

    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

    Reenactors, musicians and artisans bring back the fur-trade era with cannon-firing, puppet shows, storytelling and games.

  • (Jul 29 – Aug 2)Riverfest

    Ottawa, IL

    At the confluence of the Fox River with the Illinois, there's a carnival, paddleboat races, Art in the Park, Taste of Ottawa, live bands and a parade on the last day.

  • (Jul 30 – Aug 1)Brat Days

    Sheboygan, WI

    This town on Lake Michigan is sausage central. There's music, a carnival, beer and, of course, a brat-eating contest. The parade is Saturday.

  • (Jul 30 – Aug 2)Fisherman's Picnic

    Grand Marais, MN

    There's a lot going on at the North Shore's biggest festival, including loon-calling, log-rolling, herring-eating and rock-skipping contests; Saturday fireworks; and the grand parade at 1 p.m. Sunday.

  • (Jul 30 – Aug 2)Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival

    Davenport, IA

    Since 1972, fans of this Jazz Age cornetist and composer have held this festival in his hometown on the Mississippi.

  • (Jul 31 – Aug 2)River City Days

    Red Wing, MN

    In this Mississippi River town, there's music, food and games in Bay Point Park and an arts show in Levee Park. There's a Venetian boat parade at dusk Saturday and the grand parade Sunday.

  • (Jul 31 – Aug 2)Buffalo Bill Days

    Lanesboro, MN

    Ride the Root River State Trail, then enjoy music, kids' games, sports tournaments, fireworks and a parade at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

  • (Jul 31 – Aug 2)Taste of Wisconsin

    Kenosha, WI

    This free harborfront festival features locally produced specialties as well as cooking demonstrations, gardening workshops and music on three stages.

  • (Jul 31 – Aug 2)Lakeshore Weekend

    Manitowoc, WI

    This Lake Michigan town offers dragon-boat racing Saturday, plus children's games and music.

  • (Jul 31)Blueberry Festival

    Marquette, MI

    Eat blueberry pizza and drink blueberry beer while listening to live music and watching dancers and medieval armored combat. There are also pony rides and games for kids.

  • (Jul 31 – Aug 2)Tall Timber Days

    Grand Rapids, MN

    In this longtime logging town, there will be lumberjack shows, chainsaw carving, music and a parade at 1 p.m. Sunday.


  • (Aug. 1 – 2)Trails & Ales Festivus

    Niles, MI

    This festival along the St. Joseph River, formerly known as Riverfest,  features dragon-boat races, plus music, arts and a car show.

  • (Aug. 2 – 15)Folklorama

    Winnipeg, MB

    This Manitoba prairie town celebrates its heritage with pavilions representing 44 nationalities, offering music, dance and food at many venues.

  • (Aug. 4 – 9)Mississippi Valley Fair

    Davenport, IA

    There are chainsaw artists and alligator shows as well as a carnival and grandstand acts that include national country musicians.

  • (Aug. 6 – 16)Wisconsin State Fair

    West Allis, WI

    The fair in this Milwaukee suburb features lots of contests, including hog-calling, cookie-stacking and cream puff-eating.

  • (Aug. 6 – 9)Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival

    Richmond, MN

    This 36th annual family-friendly festival includes music on five stages and workshops at El Rancho Mañana Campground, 20 miles west of St. Cloud.

  • (Aug. 6 – 8)WE Fest

    Detroit Lakes, MN

    Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Rascall Flatts are among the headliners at this big country festival in west-central Minnesota.

  • (Aug. 6 – 9)National Blueberry Festival

    South Haven, MI

    Eat until you're blue in the face during the festival in this Lake Michigan beach town. There's a pie-eating contest, riverfront concerts, an arts fair and a big parade on Saturday.

  • (Aug. 6 – 9)Sweet Corn Festival

    Mendota, IL

    The festival in this town between Rochelle and La Salle features nearly 50 tons of free buttered corn, live music, a flea market, a carnival and a parade.

  • (Aug. 6 – 9)Mile of Music

    Appleton, WI

    More than 180 singer-songwriters perform at more than 40 venues along College Avenue downtown.

  • (Aug. 6 – 8)Ashley for the Arts music festival

    Arcadia, WI

    This nonprofit festival is in the southwest Wisconsin bluffs, half an hour north of Winona, Minn.

    Tickets are $5. In addition to music, there will be a hot-air balloon launch, car show, arts, a youth obstacle course and Saturday fireworks.

  • (Aug. 7)Pie Day

    Braham, MN

    Minnesota's official Pie Capital near Cambridge holds pie-eating contests, a pie trivia contest and performances of the Pie-Alleuia Chorus.

  • (Aug. 7 – 9)Grand Portage Powwow & Rendezvous

    Grand Portage, MN

    Re-enactors from across the continent gather at Grand Portage National Monument for the annual fur-trade rendezvous; next door, the  Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa holds a powwow. Reserve lodgings far in advance.

  • (Aug. 7 – 9)Bayfront Blues Festival

    Duluth, MN

    The 27th annual music fest on the Lake Superior harbor showcases national and regional acts on three stages.

  • (Aug. 7 – 9)Irish Fair

    St. Paul, MN

    This big heritage fest on the banks of the Mississippi includes Irish Got Talent and best legs in a kilt contests, hurling demonstrations, dancing and lots of music.

  • (Aug. 7 – 9)Uptown Art Fair

    Minneapolis, MN

    This large juried art fair in the Uptown neighborhood draws crowds. Use a Nice Ride bike or download a free bus/train pass, www.metrotransit.org/artpass, to avoid congestion and to get to the two other art fairs in south Minneapolis.

  • (Aug. 7 – 8)Cache Ba$h

    West Bend, WI

    This town north of Milwaukee calls itself the Geocache Capital of the Midwest. For the festival, it hides 50 new caches and gives away $1,000 in cash prizes.

  • (Aug. 7 – 9)Twin Cities Polish Festival

    Minneapolis, MN

    This celebration of Polish culture is on the St. Anthony Main riverfront across from downtown, with music, art, food and free polka lessons.

  • (Aug. 8 – 9)Loring and Powderhorn arts festivals

    Minneapolis, MN

    These smaller festivals in Powderhorn Park, in south Minneapolis, and Loring Park, on the edge of downtown, are not far from the Uptown Art Fair. All are easily reached by bus shuttle or by bicycle on the Midtown Greenway.

  • (Aug. 13 – 23)Iowa State Fair

    Des Moines, IA

    See a diaper derby, outhouse races and mullet contest, and don't miss the butter sculptures.

  • (Aug. 13 – 15)Tug Fest

    LeClaire and Port Byron, IAIL

    The two towns stretch a 680-pound, 2,400-foot rope across the Mississippi River for the ultimate tug of war. (Over 27 years, the score is Illinois 17, Iowa 11.) There's also a parade, fireworks, children's games, concerts and carnival rides.

  • (Aug. 13 – 16)Irish Fest

    Milwaukee, WI

    The nation's largest Irish festival features 100 acts on 16 stages, plus children's activities, red hair and freckle contests and demonstrations by Irish dog breeds. In Henry Maier Festival Park.

  • (Aug. 14 – 16)Oronoco Gold Rush

    Oronoco, MN

    The antiques show and flea market in this friendly little village just north of Rochester off U.S. 52 includes more than 400 vendors and 1,200 booths. There's also pancakes for breakfast, homemade pie and music.

  • (Aug. 14 – 15)Big Bull Falls Blues Fest

    Wausau, WI

    Enjoy national and local blues musicians in Fern Island Park. There's a beer garden, of course.

  • (Aug. 15 – 16)Air & Water Show

    Chicago, IL

    The 57th annual free show features aerobatics, extreme flying and parachuting off North Avenue Beach.

  • (Aug. 19 – 23)Venetian Festival

    Lake Geneva, WI

    In this southeast Wisconsin vacation area, the festival includes a carnival, arts and crafts fair, firefighter water fight and, on Sunday, a water-ski show followed by a lighted boat parade and fireworks.

  • (Aug. 20 – 23)Ki-Chi-Saga Days

    Chisago City, MN

    The fest in this town just north of St. Paul features an Old World market, sand-castle and skateboard contests, Swedish dancers, a horn hunt and a parade at 2 p.m. Sunday.

  • (Aug. 21 – 23)Mexican Fiesta

    Milwaukee, WI

    Enjoy the best of Mexican culture at the Henry Maier Festival Park: mariachi, arts and crafts, spicy foods and contests: dance, costume, jalapeno-eating and el grito, or shouting.

  • (Aug. 21 – 22)Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival

    Superior, WI

    The festival on Barker's Island begins Friday with a parade of teams, fireworks and a concert and continues Saturday with races in the harbor and family entertainment.

  • (Aug. 21 – 22)Summer Microbrew & Music Festival

    Traverse City, MI

    This festival at Grand Traverse Commons features more than 200 craft beers.

  • (Aug. 22)Cultivate Festival

    Minneapolis, MN

    Chipotle puts on this free food and music festival in Loring Park, with demonstrations by well-known local chefs, six bands, children's activities and a tasting hall for craft brew and wine.

  • (Aug. 27 – Sep 7)Minnesota State Fair

    St. Paul, MN

    Try flights at the Craft Beer Hall, eat food on a stick, listen to free concerts and watch the 2 p.m. daily parade.

  • (Aug. 28 – 30)Artstreet

    Green Bay, WI

    Artists, performers and craft and food stands fill streets downtown near the Fox River.

  • (Aug. 28 – 29)Potato Days

    Barnesville, MN

    This goofy central-Minnesota festival features mashed-potato wrestling, a golden potato hunt, potato car races, peeling and eating contests and a Saturday parade.

  • (Aug. 28 – 30)Porcupine Mountains Music Festival

    Silver City, MI

    Few settings are more beautiful than Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park on Lake Superior; 25 national and regional blues, folk and bluegrass acts perform.

  • (Aug. 28 – 29)Vinton Boomtown

    Vinton, IA

    Fireworks provided by the Iowa Pyrotechnic Association are the centerpiece for this fest, which includes arts & crafts, food and kids' activities.

  • (Aug. 28 – 29)River Roots Live

    Davenport, IA

    Kacey Musgraves and Mavis Staples headline this music festival in LeClaire Park, on the banks of the Mississippi, which also features Rib Festival.


  • (Aug. 28 – 30)Great River Folk Festival

    La Crosse, WI

    This festival in Riverside Park includes children's activities and craft demonstrations.

  • (Aug. 28 – 29)Festival of the Horse

    Mackinac Island, MI

    There's a carriage parade, saddle-horse parade, horseback riding and driving demos, historic stable tours and pony rides.

  • (Aug. 29 – 30)Festival in the Pines

    Eau Claire, WI

    There's music on two stages, children's games, a petting zoo and an arts fair in Carson Park. Entry to Paul Bunyan Logging Camp and Chippewa Valley Museum is included.

  • (Aug. 31 – Sep 6)National Old Time Country Bluegrass Festival

    LeMars, IA

    More than 600 musicians perform on 10 stages in this town in northwest Iowa.


  • (Sep. 3 – 6)Chicago Jazz Festival

    Chicago, IL

    This free festival features music at the Chicago Cultural Center and  Millennium Park.

  • (Sep. 4 – 7)Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion

    Rollag, MN

    Revel in the past during this show of antique machinery, which includes rides on trains and a carousel, square dancing, roving musicians and nightly jamborees.

    In 2015, the show will feature blacksmithing.

  • (Sep. 4 – 6)Wilhelm Tell Festival

    New Glarus, WI

    This Swiss town near Madison has been putting on an outdoor William Tell pageant since 1938. Festivities include a children's lantern parade, yodeling, an arts show and ethnic fashions.

  • (Sep. 4 – 5)Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw

    Prairie du Sac, WI

    There's chip-chucking contests in this Wisconsin River town, but also music, kids' games and an arts and crafts fair. The Tournament of Chips parade is at noon Saturday.

  • (Sep. 4 – 6)Wisconsin Highland Games

    Waukesha, WI

    In addition to heavy athletics — throwing weights, hammers, logs and sacks of hay — there will be piping, drumming, dancing, longbow competitions, dog demonstrations and traditional Scottish food.

  • (Sep. 5 – 6)Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

    Davenport, IA

    In LeClaire Park on the river, blues musicians celebrate the music that traveled up the Mississippi.

  • (Sep. 5 – 6)Taste of Madison

    Madison, WI

    This free benefit festival on Capitol Square includes 200 menu items from more than 80 restaurants, all priced at $1-$4. There's also music on three stages.


  • (Sep. 5 – 7)Frankfort Fall Festival

    Frankfort, IL

    The festival in this southern suburb of Chicago features more than 300 artisans, entertainment, a carnival and a parade at 1 p.m. Sunday.

  • (Sep. 6 – 7)Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival

    Geneva, IL

    Musicians and storytellers perform on eight stages at this festival in Island Park on the Fox River.

  • (Sep. 7)Mackinac Bridge Walk

    Mackinaw City, MI

    Once a year, on Labor Day, people can walk across the five-mile span, the third-longest suspension bridge in the world.