MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Great summer festivals

Here are the best of the fests in the Upper Midwest.

Little girls dance on a stage at Luverne's Buffalo Days.

© Beth Gauper

At Buffalo Days in Luverne, Minn., tiny dancers perform to the tune "On the Good Ship Lollipop.''

When summer comes, there's no time to waste.

Everyone is throwing a party, and you're invited. 

For even more festivals, see Celebrating roots, a comprehensive list of ethnic festivals.

For food festivals, see A feast of festivals.

For outdoor art fairs, see Art al fresco.

For dragon-boat festivals, see Waking the dragon.

For beer festivals, see Best brew fests.

For more events, see our Events Calendar.

Here are some of the best in 2014.

Always check before you go to verify dates and to make sure you catch the best parts of a festival, especially the parades.

Memorial Day weekend

ChocolateFest in 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 22–26.

North Iowa Band Festival in 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 22–26.

Dylan Days in Hibbing, MN Bob's hometown celebrates his 73rd birthday with a film festival, singer-songwriter contest, photo exhibit and Bobby Zimmerman bus tour. May 22–25.

Kettle River Paddle Festival in Sandstone, MN Watch a kayak whitewater rodeo and learn to paddle in a clinic. In Sandstone's Robinson Park and Banning State Park. In 2014, the festival has been moved from early May due to ferocious water levels. May 23–25.

World's Largest Brat Fest in Madison, WI There's music on four stages, 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 23–26.

Festival of Nature in 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 23–24.

Chicago Gaelic Park Irish Festival in 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 23–26.

Fort Michilimackinac Pageant in 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 24–26.

Native American Festival in 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 24–25.

BobFest in Spring Green, WI The Spring Green General Store in this artistic town on the Wisconsin River celebrates Bob Dylan's 73rd birthday with free outdoor music. May 25.

A lumberjack on a boom run.

© Beth Gauper

A boom runner competes in Hayward's Lumberjack World Championships.

Last weekend in May/First weekend in June

Bluegrass Festival in Niles, MI Listen to American roots music on two stages along the banks of the St. Joseph River. May 29–June 1.

Street Faire at the Lakes in Detroit Lakes, MN This western-Minnesota lake town hosts a juried arts show with music, fair food and a beer garden. May 30–31.

CelebrAsian Asian Heritage Festival in Des Moines, IA This festival at the State Capitol Complex features martial arts, lion dancers, chopstick races, a fashion show and a fortune-cookie world-record attempt. May 31.

Grand Old Day in 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. June 1.

Ride the Drive in Madison, WI Ride, walk or skate a car-free six-mile loop along Lake Monona, around the State Capitol and through downtown. There are also family activities, parades, food and music. June 1.

Ride for the Arts in Milwaukee, WI This bicycle ride along the Lake Michigan lakefront includes routes of 5, 12, 25, 50 and 75 miles. The three longer routes will include the Hoan Bridge on I-794, which will be closed to cars for two hours, and the longest route goes as far north as Port Washington. The rides start and end at the Summerfest grounds, and there's a party afterward. June 1.

Model A Day in 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. June 1.

boats sail under lift bridge in Houghton, Mich.

© Beth Gauper

The Portage Lake Lift Bridge connects Houghton and Hancock on the Keweenaw Peninsula.

First full weekend in June

Butterfest in 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. June 5–8.

2 Rivers Wine & Jazz Festival in 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. June 6–8.

Buffalo Days in 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.   June 6–8.

Lilac Festival in 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. June 6–15.

Stamman Scandinavian Folk Festival in 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. June 6–7.

Fresh Art Spring Tour in 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. June 6–8.

Milk Days in 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. June 6–8.

Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival in 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. June 6–8.

Edina Art Fair in Edina, MN The juried show in this posh southern Minneapolis suburb draws 375 exhibitors and 60,000 people. June 6–8. 50th & France website

Spring Art Tour in 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. June 6–8.

Iowa Arts Festival in 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. June 6–8.

Ribfest Chicago in 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. June 6–8.

Pride of the Fox Riverfest in St. Charles, IL See dragon-boat racing, a water-ski show, sand sculpting and car shows, all along the Fox River. June 6–8.

Rhubarb Festival in 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. June 7.

Milwaukee Highland Games in Wauwatosa, WI Listen to bagpipe bands, eat Scottish food and watch sheepdogs, Highland dancers and athletes. June 7.

Wisconsin state-parks open house in All state parks, WI Visit a state park without paying the daily vehicle fee, $7 for residents and $10 for non-residents. June 8.

Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival in Worthington, MN This southern Minnesota town is a windsurfing hot spot and this year hosts the U.S. Windsurfing National Championships on Lake Okabena. There's also live music and Arts on the Shore. June 10–15.

Steamboat Days in 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. June 10–15.

Second weekend in June

Lilac Festival in 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. June 6–15.

Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival in Worthington, MN This southern Minnesota town is a windsurfing hot spot and this year hosts the U.S. Windsurfing National Championships on Lake Okabena. There's also live music and Arts on the Shore. June 10–15.

Steamboat Days in 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. June 10–15.

Steamboat Days in 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. June 11–15.

Irish Festival in Oshkosh, WI This festival in Riverside Park on the Fox River includes Irish music, food and dancing. June 12–15.

Steel Bridge SongFest in 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. June 12–15.

Blues Festival in Chicago, IL This is the largest of Chicago's free music festivals, drawing 750,000 people to Grant Park. June 13–15.

Polish Fest in Milwaukee, WI This big festival on the lakefront features lots of rollicking, zydeco-laced polka and hearty food. June 13–15.

Bridgefest in 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. June 13–15.

Lighthouse Festival in 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. June 13–15.

Balloon Rally in Monroe, WI The capital of cheese country hosts Wisconsin's longest-running rally. There's a balloon launch and glow Friday evening and a 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. launch Saturday, as well as an arts and crafts fair, classic-car show, live music, games and food. June 13–14.

More on 34 in Aurora to Galesburg, IL A 131-mile yard sale along U.S. 34 from Aurora to Galesburg, with events in many towns. June 13–14.

Stone Arch Bridge Festival in Minneapolis, MN 250 artists show their wares on the banks of the Mississippi at St. Anthony Main. There are also three stages, art for kids and a car show. June 13–15.

Winstock Country Festival in Winsted, MN Toby Keith and Rascal Flatts headline this festival just west of Minneapolis. June 13–14.

Old Canal Days in 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 Friday parade. June 13–15.

America's River Festival in Dubuque, IA This riverside music festival includes a zipline, motocross show, movie tent and children's games and rides. June 13–14.

Northwoods Bluegrass Festival in Ladysmith, WI Six bluegrass bands perform at the fairgrounds in this Blue Hills town, and there's on-site camping. June 13–14.

Wells Street/Old Town art fairs in 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. June 14–15. Wells Street website

Northern Spark in Minneapolis, MN From sunset to sunrise, artists perform a variety of projects at museums and outdoor venues along the riverfront and around Minneapolis. June 14.

Swedish Days Festival in 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.  June 17–22.

A tugboat in the Soo Locks.

© Beth Gauper

A tugboat passes through the Soo Locks during the annual tugboat parade.

Third weekend in June

Swedish Days Festival in 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.  June 17–22.

Musky Fest in Hayward, WI A carnival, crafts, ice cream-eating contest and lots of festivities downtown, capped by the 1:30 p.m. Sunday parade. June 19–22.

Harborfest in South Haven, MI There's dragon-boat racing, a boat parade, pirate-chaser sails on the Friends Good Will, music and a craft fair. June 19–22.

Great Galena Balloon Race in 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. June 20–22.

Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival in 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. June 20–22.

Northwoods Blues Festival in Spooner, WI Canned Heat and Johnny Winter headline this festival at the Washburn County Fairgrounds. On-site camping is available. June 20–21.

Fyr Bal Festival in Ephraim, WI It's the 50th annual Scandinavian midsummer festival in this Door County village. There's a regatta, historic walking tours, art fair, trolley rides, Fur Ball pet parade, cake walk and, of course, a fish boil. June 21.

Midsummer Fest in 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. June 21–22.

Afton Strawberry Festival in 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.   June 21–22.

Air and Water Show in Milwaukee, WI This show, between Bradford and McKinley beaches on the lakefront, features many aerobatics. June 21–22.

Spring Iowa Barn Tour in Northwest, IA This year's tour of historic barns is in Plymouth, Cherokee, and Sioux counties in northwest Iowa. June 21–22.

Custer's Last Stand in 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. June 21–22.

Walk Around the World International Festival in Rochester, MN Performances, food and a market showcase cultures around the world in Peace Plaza downtown. From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 21.

Country USA in Oshkosh, WI Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line, Gary Allan, Brantley Gilbert and Luke Bryan are the headliners of this year's big festival. June 24–28.

Milk-carton races at Aquatennial.

© Beth Gauper

Milk-carton boat races on Lake Calhoun are part of Aquatennial in Minneapolis.

Fourth weekend in June

Country USA in Oshkosh, WI Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line, Gary Allan, Brantley Gilbert and Luke Bryan are the headliners of this year's big festival. June 24–28.

Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI They call this the world's largest music festival. More than 800 acts perform on 11 stages along Lake Michigan. June 25–29.

National Women's Music Festival in Middleton, WI In addition to concerts, this musical and cultural festival at the Marriott Madison West features comedy, theater, film and writers' workshops. June 26–29.

Twin Cities Jazz Festival in St. Paul, MN Listen to jazz in Mears Park, in St. Paul's Lowertown. June 26–28.

Country Fest in Cadott, WI This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley and Florida Georgia Line. June 26–29.

Lakes Jam in Brainerd, MN Bret Michaels headlines this music-and-camping festival at Brainerd International Raceway. June 26–28.

Water Ski Days in Lake City, MN There's music, an arts and crafts fair and, on Sunday, a 2 p.m. parade followed by a water-ski show on Lake Pepin, where water-skiing was invented. June 27–29.

Des Moines Arts Festival in Des Moines, IA This big, juried arts fair at Western Gateway Park downtown includes street theater, live music and a film festival. June 27–29.

Cedar Basin Jazz Festival in Cedar Falls, IA There's 42 hours of free entertainment in Sturgis Park, including a Sunday morning gospel set and a jazz brunch. June 27–29.

Midwest Viking/Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival in 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. June 27–28.

Gospel Festival in Chicago, IL This free festival opens in Millennium Park, moves to the Chicago Cultural Center on Friday and is in Ellis Park on the weekend. June 27–29.

Blues on the Fox in Aurora, IL Blues artists perform at the festival grounds on the Fox River, in the town where Chicago blues musicians recorded for RCA's Bluebird label in the 1930s. June 27–28.

Engineers Day/Bridge Walk in 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).   June 27–28. Bridge Walk site

Strawberry Festival in 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.  June 28–29.

Rhythm & Booms in Madison, WI There's a carnival, music, bicycle parade and fireworks over Lake Monona. June 28.

Cardboard Cup Regatta in Crystal Lake, IL Watch or enter the cardboard-boat races on Main Beach, where prizes are awarded in many categories. June 28.

Field of Blues Festival in Rockford, IL John Nemeth headlines the festival in Aviators Stadium in Loves Park. June 28.

Yellow River Folk Music Festival in Danbury, WI The Okee Dokee Brothers and Monroe Crossing are among the musicians playing at Forts Folle Avoine, a re-created fur-trade post on the Yellow River. June 28.

Fourth of July weekend

Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI They call this the world's largest music festival. More than 800 acts perform on 11 stages along Lake Michigan. July 1–6.

Petunia Festival in Dixon, IL This festival in the Hometown of Ronald Reagan features music, a carnival, fireworks and a Sunday parade. July 2–6.

Sawdust Days in 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. July 2–6.

Eyes to the Skies Festival in 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. July 3–6.

Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, IA In LeClaire Park on the river, blues musicians celebrate the music that traveled up the Mississippi. July 3–5.

Iowa City Jazz Festival in Iowa City, IA This downtown festival features a Culinary Row, Fun Zone for kids and Sunday fireworks in addition to music. July 3–5.

Riverfest in 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. July 3–5.

Red White and Boom in Minneapolis, MN On Thursday, there's the Hot Dam 5K fun fun, followed by music and a movie. On Friday, 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.   July 3–4.

Ribfest in Naperville, IL Big-name bands perform in Knoch Park, where there's also magic shows, kids' games, food and fireworks on the last evening. July 3–6.

Taste of Minnesota in Waconia, MN This revived free family festival features food, music, games and fireworks. Originally planned for Harriet Island in St. Paul, it now will be at the Carver County Fairgrounds in this southwest Minneapolis exurb. July 3–6.

Blues Festival in Thunder Bay, ON This festival has a scenic location in Marina Park, on the Lake Superior waterfront. July 4–6.

Fourth Fest in Duluth, MN Duluth claims to have Minnesota's largest fireworks show, part of festivities in Bayfront Festival Park. July 4.

80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines, IA This rock festival (named for the junction of two interstates) is at Western Gateway Park. July 4–5.

Prairie Home Companion 40th Anniversary Celebration in St. Paul, MN On the grounds of Macalester College, Garrison Keillor and friends celebrate 40 years of the renowned public-radio variety show. Many activities are free, including a Community Sing-Along with Keillor at noon Sunday. The extensive musical lineup includes Iris DeMent, Gillian Welch and the Wailin' Jennys. July 4–6.

National Cherry Festival in 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. July 5–12.

Interpreters at Grand Portage.

© Torsten Muller

Interpreters at Grand Portage National Monument re-enact the fur-trade era.

Second weekend in July

National Cherry Festival in 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. July 5–12.

Winnipeg Folk Festival in 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. July 9–13.

Taste of Chicago in Chicago, IL The big free festival in Grant Park offers lots of food and music. Headliners include AWOLNATION, Janelle Monae, Nickel Creek, Emmylou Harris, Jeff Tweedy and Aloe Blacc. July 9–13.

Bastille Days in 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. July 10–13.

Heart of the North Rodeo in 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. July 10–12.

Iola Old Car Show in Iola, WI This show and swap meet brings up to 130,000 people to this village east of Stevens Point. July 10–13.

Hodag Country Festival in Rhinelander, WI This year, performers at this big fest include Kenny Rogers, Kellie Pickler and Sara Evans. There's a band contest, too. July 10–13.

Balloon Rally/Ribfest/Chalkfest in 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. July 10–13.

Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant in 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. July 11–12.

Square Roots Festival in Chicago, IL The Old Town School of Folk Music presents this Lincoln Square festival, which includes more than 60 acts on four stages plus 30 local and regional craft beers and food from neighborhood restaurants. July 11–13.

Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN This big festival celebrates its 80th 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. July 11–20.

Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis, MN This family-friendly outdoor rock festival on the grounds of the Basilica of St. Mary benefits its restoration and outreach programs.   July 11–12.

Blissfest in 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. July 11–13.

Wild Rice Festival in 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. July 11–13.

Windmill City Festival in Batavia, IL There's a carnival, pet parade, ice-cream eating contest and live bands in the town on the Fox River. July 11–13.

Fiesta Days in 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. July 11–20.

Bicycle, Blues and BBQ Festival in Clear Lake, IA There are professional races plus a tour and family fun rides at this festival based in City Park. July 11–13.

South Shore Frolics in Milwaukee, WI This festival in Bay View's South Shore Park includes bands, games, a car show, nightly fireworks and a parade at 11 a.m. Saturday. July 11–13.

Karl Oskar Days in Lindstrom, MN The festival in this Swedish town just north of the Twin Cities features fireworks, a car show and a parade. July 11–13.

Phelps Mill Festival in 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. July 12–13.

Art Fair On/Off the Square in 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. July 12–13. On the Square website

Grand Marais Arts Festival in Grand Marais, MN This juried art show along the Lake Superior harbor includes children's activities, art demonstrations, a pie social and live music. July 12–13.

Minnesota Scottish Fair & Highland Games in Farmington, 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. July 12.

Rock USA in Oshkosh, WI This big rock festival is held in Ford Festival Park. July 16–19.

Pirates in Port Washington.

© Pendragon Photography

In June, pirates invade Port Washington, Wis.

Third weekend in July

Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN This big festival celebrates its 80th 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. July 11–20.

Fiesta Days in 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. July 11–20.

Rock USA in Oshkosh, WI This big rock festival is held in Ford Festival Park. July 16–19.

Rock Fest in Cadott, WI This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features top national musicians. July 17–20.

Moondance Jam in Walker, MN This big classic-rock and camping festival celebrates its 23nd year. Headliners include REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Styx and George Thorogood. July 17–19.

Aquatennial in Minneapolis, MN Among the highlights of this big festival are the Lake Calhoun milk-carton boat races and sandcastle contest, the Hennepin Avenue Torchlight Parade and Mississippi River fireworks show. July 18–26.

Bavarian Blast in 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. July 18–20.

Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant in 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. July 18–19.

Highland Fest in St. Paul, MN This street fair in St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood includes an arts fair, music, carnival rides, wiener-dog races, a strongman competition and food. July 18–20.

Festa Italiana in 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. July 18–20.

RiverSong Music Festival in Hutchinson, MN This family-friendly festival on the Crow River, west of the Twin Cities, features folk, blues, jazz and other grassroots music on three stages, including one for children. There's onsite camping and food. July 18–19.

Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, IL Headliners for this festival in Union Park include Beck, Kendrick Lamar and Neutral Milk Hotel. July 18–20.

Stillwater Log Jam in Stillwater, MN The festival in this St. Croix River town features historical pontoon-boat tours, vintage baseball, lumberjack demonstrations, a fishing contest, music and a parade. July 18–20.

Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival in Marquette, MI This folk music festival in Tourist Park also features a juried arts and crafts show and camping on-site. July 18–20.

Stockholm Art Fair in Stockholm, WI This hamlet on Lake Pepin, a favorite day trip destination for Twin Citians, becomes a shopping mecca during this big fair. July 19.

Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival in Duluth, MN Hear island music on Lake Superior, from Bayfront Festival Park. July 19.

Oregon Trail Days in Oregon, IL This town on the Rock River celebrates its heritage with an American Indian encampment and cowboy and frontier acts, with Wild West activities for kids and canoe rides. It's in Lowden State Park, and tipis are available to camp in. Proceeds go to restore Oregon's 48-foot statue of Chief Black Hawk, made in 1911. July 19–20.

Charlevoix Venetian Festival in Charlevoix, MI A week of music and games winds up with an 11 a.m. street parade and 10 p.m. lighted boat parade, followed by fireworks. July 19–26.

Ethnic Arts Festival in Evanston, IL Dawes Park on Lake Michigan turns into a global village for this celebration of music, dance, arts and food. July 19–20.

Agate Days in 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. July 19–20.

Woodstock Folk Festival in Woodstock, IL Music on the square in this town not far over the Wisconsin border from Lake Geneva. July 20.

Chinatown Summer Fair in Chicago, IL This neighborhood street festival includes a lion-dance procession, baby and cutest dog contests and food from the many restaurants. July 20.

Waterama in 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. July 22–27.

Great River Days in Muscatine, IA This festival in Riverfront Park includes paddlewheeler rides, a carnival, battle of the bands, wiener-dog dash, main-stage evening concerts and a Saturday parade. July 23–26.

A dragon boat races past Fairlawn Mansion in Superior.

© Beth Gauper

A boat races past Fairlawn Mansion at the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival in Superior.

Fourth weekend in July

Aquatennial in Minneapolis, MN Among the highlights of this big festival are the Lake Calhoun milk-carton boat races and sandcastle contest, the Hennepin Avenue Torchlight Parade and Mississippi River fireworks show. July 18–26.

Charlevoix Venetian Festival in Charlevoix, MI A week of music and games winds up with an 11 a.m. street parade and 10 p.m. lighted boat parade, followed by fireworks. July 19–26.

Waterama in 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. July 22–27.

Great River Days in Muscatine, IA This festival in Riverfront Park includes paddlewheeler rides, a carnival, battle of the bands, wiener-dog dash, main-stage evening concerts and a Saturday parade. July 23–26.

Nordic Fest in 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. July 24–26.

Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward, WI You can't see this kind of thing just anywhere: cut-throat log rolling, boom running, springboard chopping and speed climbing. July 24–26.

North Star Stampede in 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. July 25–27.

Pierogi Fest in 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. July 25–27.

Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant in 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. July 25–26.

National Balloon Classic in Indianola, IA This giant hot-air balloon festival includes daily flights, rides for the public, music, night glows, fireworks and a parade. July 25–Aug. 2.

German Fest in Milwaukee, WI Look for dachshunds, dirndls and lots of oompah music at this big party at Henry Maier Festival Park on Lake Michigan. July 25–27.

Taste of Wisconsin in Kenosha, WI This free harborfront festival features locally produced specialties as well as cooking demonstrations, gardening workshops and music on three stages. July 25–27.

Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven, MI There's nightly entertainment on the waterfront, a downtown carnival, tours of Coast Guard cutters, a Grand Parade and fireworks. July 25–Aug. 3.

Prairie Dog Blues Festival in Prairie du Chien, WI This Mississippi River festival on historic St. Feriole Island features 12 bands on two stages, with onsite camping. July 25–26.

Riverboat Days in Wabasha, MN There's a lighted boat parade Friday, and on Saturday an arts fair, firemen's water fight, waterfront carriage rides and a 6 p.m. Grande Parade. July 25–26.

ArtBike + ArtCar Parade in 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. July 26.

Circus Celebration Day in Baraboo, WI In the downtown square, there will be circus-themed performances, walking tours, music, children's activities and a Big Top parade. July 26.

EAA AirVenture in 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. July 28–Aug. 3.

Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport, IA There are chainsaw artists, a zip line and alligator and bear shows as well as a carnival and grandstand acts that include national country musicians. July 29–Aug. 3.

A steamboat float in Winona's Steamboat Days parade.

© Beth Gauper

Winona royalty rides a float during the town's Steamboat Days.

First weekend in August

National Balloon Classic in Indianola, IA This giant hot-air balloon festival includes daily flights, rides for the public, music, night glows, fireworks and a parade. July 25–Aug. 2.

Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven, MI There's nightly entertainment on the waterfront, a downtown carnival, tours of Coast Guard cutters, a Grand Parade and fireworks. July 25–Aug. 3.

EAA AirVenture in 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. July 28–Aug. 3.

Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport, IA There are chainsaw artists, a zip line and alligator and bear shows as well as a carnival and grandstand acts that include national country musicians. July 29–Aug. 3.

Riverfest in 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 at 1 p.m. Aug. 3. July 30–Aug. 3.

Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, WI The fair in this Milwaukee suburb features lots of contests, including hog-calling, cookie-stacking and cream puff-eating. July 31–Aug. 10.

Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival in Davenport, IA Since 1972, fans of this Jazz Age cornetist and composer have held this festival in his hometown on the Mississippi. July 31–Aug. 3.

Riverfest in Niles, MI This festival along the St. Joseph River features dragon-boat races, fan boat rides and raft races, plus music, arts and a car and truck show. July 31–Aug. 3.

Brat Days in 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. July 31–Aug. 2.

Pie Day in 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. 1.

River City Days in 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. Aug. 1–3.

Buffalo Bill Days in Lanesboro, MN Ride the Root River State Trail then enjoy music, games and food in this bluff-country burg. A parade is Sunday. Aug. 1–3.

Uptown Art Fair in 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. 1–3.

Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL This big music festival features dozens of bands and, unlike other Grant Park festivals, is not free: Three-day passes are $175-$215.     Aug. 1–3.

Blues on the Chippewa in Durand, WI Just up the Chippewa River from Lake Pepin, this free blues festival in Memorial Park features 16 bands. Aug. 1–3.

Howling Moon Music Festival in Duluth, MN This new rock and roots festival in Bayfront Festival Park features Brandi Carlile, the Guess Who, the Big Wu, Nicholas David, the BoDeans and more. Tickets are half-price through May 31. Part of the proceeds benefit the St. Louis River Alliance and the Minnesota chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Aug. 1–2.

Fisherman's Picnic in 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. Aug. 1–3.

Loring and Powderhorn arts festivals in 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. 2–3. Loring Park Art Festival

Folklorama in Winnipeg, MB This Manitoba prairie town celebrates its heritage with pavilions representing 44 nationalities, offering music, dance and food at many venues. Aug. 3–16.

Taste of Dorset in Dorset, MN Ride the Heartland State Trail to this tiny "burp in the road'' near Park Rapids, then eat your way down the street. And don't forget to vote (or run) for mayor. Food is served 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 3.

Fans listen to music at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

© Beth Gauper

Fans listen to music at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Second weekend in August

Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, WI The fair in this Milwaukee suburb features lots of contests, including hog-calling, cookie-stacking and cream puff-eating. July 31–Aug. 10.

Folklorama in Winnipeg, MB This Manitoba prairie town celebrates its heritage with pavilions representing 44 nationalities, offering music, dance and food at many venues. Aug. 3–16.

Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, IA See a diaper derby, outhouse races and mullet contest, and don't miss the butter sculptures. Aug. 7–17.

Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival in Richmond, MN This 35th annual family-friendly festival includes music on five stages and workshops at El Rancho Mañana Campground, 20 miles west of St. Cloud. Aug. 7–10.

Tug Fest in 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 16, Iowa 11.) There's also a parade, fireworks, children's games, concerts and carnival rides. Aug. 7–9. Event website/Port Byron

WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, MN This big fest in west-central Minnesota snags the biggest names in country music . Headliners this year include Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean and the Zac Brown Band. There's camping onsite. Aug. 7–9.

National Blueberry Festival in 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. 7–10.

Country on the River in Prairie du Chien, WI Jason Aldean and The Band Perry headline the national acts performing on two stages on St. Feriole Island. Aug. 7–9.

Sweet Corn Festival in 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. 7–10.

Mile of Music in Appleton, WI More than 100 singer-songwriters perform at more than 40 venues along College Avenue downtown. Aug. 7–10.

Grand Portage Powwow & Rendezvous in 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. 8–10.

Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth, MN The 26th annual music fest on the Lake Superior harbor showcases national and regional acts on three stages. Aug. 8–10.

Irish Fair in 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. 8–10.

Cache Ba$h in 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. 8–9.

Twin Cities Polish Festival in 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. 8–10.

Festival of the Horse in Mackinac Island, MI There's a carriage parade, saddle-horse parade, horseback riding and driving demos, historic stable tours and pony rides. Aug. 8–9.

Ship & Shore Festival in New Buffalo, MI In this Lake Michigan beach town, there's a lighted boat parade, fireworks, microbrew-sampling, an art fair and ice-cream and watermelon-eating contests. Aug. 8–10.

Live From the Rock in Red Rock, ON This folk festival is on the shores of Lake Superior, east of Thunder Bay near Nipigon. Camping is on-site. Aug. 8–10.

Ashley for the Arts music festival in Arcadia, WI The Beach Boys and Ingrid Michaelson headline this nonprofit festival 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. 8–9.

Civil War Days in Pipestone, MN In the southwest corner of Minnesota, this festival includes quilting bees, etiquette and ballroom dance lessons, camp tours, children's games, band concerts and a grand ball. Battle re-enactments are held both days. Aug. 9–10.

Pyrotechnics Guild International Fireworks Extravaganza in Mason City, IA Fireworks experts convene to show off their best and most complicated techniques, choreographed to music. Aug. 9–15.

Venetian Festival in 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. 13–17.

Fourth of July on Madeline Island.

© Beth Gauper

On Madeline Island, the Fourth of July parade follows the Lake Superior shoreline.

Third weekend in August

Folklorama in Winnipeg, MB This Manitoba prairie town celebrates its heritage with pavilions representing 44 nationalities, offering music, dance and food at many venues. Aug. 3–16.

Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, IA See a diaper derby, outhouse races and mullet contest, and don't miss the butter sculptures. Aug. 7–17.

Pyrotechnics Guild International Fireworks Extravaganza in Mason City, IA Fireworks experts convene to show off their best and most complicated techniques, choreographed to music. Aug. 9–15.

Venetian Festival in 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. 13–17.

Irish Fest in Milwaukee, WI The nation's largest Irish festival features more than 300 entertainers on 17 stages, plus children's activities and demonstrations by Irish dog breeds. In Henry Maier Festival Park. Aug. 14–17.

Oronoco Gold Rush in 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. 15–17.

Maritime Heritage Festival in Port Washington, WI Watch cardboard-boat races, listen to music, ride a Ferris wheel, cruise the harbor and tour the tall ship Peacemaker. Aug. 15–17.

Big Bull Falls Blues Fest in Wausau, WI Enjoy national and local blues musicians in Fern Island Park. There's a beer garden, of course. Aug. 15–16.

River Roots Live in Davenport, IA This free music festival in LeClaire Park, on the banks of the Mississippi, also features Rib Festival and the paddling festival Floatzilla.   Aug. 15–16.

Air & Water Show in Chicago, IL The 56th annual free show features aerobatics, extreme flying and parachuting off North Avenue Beach. Aug. 16–17.

HarborPark Jazz & Blues Festival in Kenosha, WI This free festival is in the lakefront Celebration Place. Aug. 16.

Lakes Bluegrass Festival in Pine River, MN This family-friendly festival at the Cass County Fairgrounds, just off the Paul Bunyan State Trail, features more than 35 bluegrass shows and free workshops. Aug. 20–24.

Scottville Clown Band.

© Beth Gauper

The Clown Band from Scottville, Mich., marches in Mackinac Island's Lilac Festival parade.

Fourth weekend in August

Lakes Bluegrass Festival in Pine River, MN This family-friendly festival at the Cass County Fairgrounds, just off the Paul Bunyan State Trail, features more than 35 bluegrass shows and free workshops. Aug. 20–24.

Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, MN See the Luminarium, try beer flights at the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, eat food on a stick and listen to free concerts. Aug. 21–Sept. 1.

Minnesota Hiking Celebration in Duluth, MN The North Country Trail Association is hosting a hiking festival from Spirit Mountain, including guided hikes on the Duluth part of the Superior Hiking Trail, family activities, hiking programs and a Hiking & Outdoors Expo on Saturday. Aug. 21–23.

Artstreet in Green Bay, WI Artists, performers and craft and food stands fill streets downtown near the Fox River. Aug. 22–24.

Potato Days in 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. 22–23.

Porcupine Mountains Music Festival in 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. 22–24.

Mexican Fiesta in 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. 22–24.

Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival in 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. 22–23.

Summer Microbrew & Music Festival in Traverse City, MI Brandi Carlile and Nahko and Medicine for the People headline this festival at Grand Traverse Commons, which also features more than 200 craft beers. Aug. 22–23.

Great River Folk Festival in La Crosse, WI This festival in Riverside Park includes children's activities and craft demonstrations. Aug. 22–24.

Crossroads Blues Festival in Byron, IL A day of blues downtown, with food from local restaurants. Aug. 23.

Festival in the Pines in 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. 23–24.

Cultivate Festival in 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. 23.

National Old Time Country Bluegrass Festival in LeMars, IA More than 600 musicians perform on 10 stages in this town in northwest Iowa. Aug. 25–31.

A kids' ride at the Minnesota State Fair.

© Beth Gauper

The Minnesota State Fair includes rides on the Kidway.

Labor Day weekend

Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, MN See the Luminarium, try beer flights at the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, eat food on a stick and listen to free concerts. Aug. 21–Sept. 1.

National Old Time Country Bluegrass Festival in LeMars, IA More than 600 musicians perform on 10 stages in this town in northwest Iowa. Aug. 25–31.

Chicago Jazz Festival in Chicago, IL This free festival features music at the Chicago Cultural Center and  Millennium Park. Aug. 28–31.

International Tug of War Championships in Madison, WI See world-class tugging at the pulling grounds in Madison. Aug. 28–31.

Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in 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 2014, the show will feature steam shovels and other construction equipment. Aug. 29–Sept. 1.

Wilhelm Tell Festival in 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. Aug. 29–31.

Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw in 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. Aug. 29–30.

Taste of Traverse City in Traverse City, MI There's a Grub Crawl, a Foodie Film Festival and sampling and chef demonstrations at Taste. Aug. 29–31.

Vinton Boomtown in Vinton, IA Fireworks provided by the Iowa Pyrotechnic Association are the centerpiece for this fest, which includes arts & crafts, food and kids' activities. Aug. 29–30.

Taste of Madison in Madison, WI This free benefit festival on Capitol Square includes 300 menu items from more than 80 restaurants, all priced at $1-$4. There's also music on three stages. On Sunday, there's a lighted boat parade on Lake Mendota, followed by fireworks. Aug. 30–31.

Frankfort Fall Festival in 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. Aug. 30–Sept. 1.

Marquette Area Blues Fest in Marquette, MI Two days of music in Mattson Lower Harbor Park on Lake Superior. Aug. 30–31.

Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival in Geneva, IL Musicians and storytellers perform on eight stages at this festival in Island Park on the Fox River. Aug. 31–Sept. 1.

Mackinac Bridge Walk in 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. Sept. 1.

For the best events in autumn, see Great fall festivals.


Last updated on August 11, 2014
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