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.
Thunder Bay, ON
On Canada Day at Fort William Historical Park, the continent's largest reconstructed fur post, admission is free to the first 500 visitors. There's also free corn on the cob, an inflatable obstacle course, axe-throwing, paintball, canoe rides, dance performances and bannock-making, log-sawing and lacrosse contests.
They call this the world's largest music festival. More than 800 acts perform on 11 stages along Lake Michigan.
La Crosse, WI
This riverfront festival includes music, magicians, a hypnotist, a pole-vaulting competition, kids' races, a water-ski show and fireworks by the La Crosse Skyrockers.
Headliners include Billy Idol and Brantley Gilbert in Knoch Park, where there's also magic shows, kids' games, food and fireworks on the last evening.
This festival in the Hometown of Ronald Reagan features music, a carnival, fireworks and a parade.
There's a half-marathon, relay and 5K in the morning, and music and family activities from 6 to 10 p.m., followed by fireworks.
Festivities are along the riverfront across from downtown.
Green Bay, WI
Green Bay hosts the largest fireworks show north of Milwaukee, plus a water-ski show, carnival rides and music and family entertainment on five stages plus the Neville Public Museum. It's in Leicht Memorial Park.
This large festival on the west edge of Chicago features daily hot-air balloon launches, glows and fireworks shows, plus children's activities and a craft fair.
Stevens Point, WI
There's a noon parade on the Fourth plus lumberjack and magic shows, bands and, on Saturday, kids' games, a lighted boat parade and fireworks.
In addition to concerts, this musical and cultural festival at the Marriott Madison West features comedy, theater, film and writers' workshops.
More than 20 bands perform in Rotary Park during this free festival, which includes artisans, food, beer, wine and fireworks on the Fourth and on Sunday.
In LeClaire Park on the river, blues musicians celebrate the music that traveled up the Mississippi.
Iowa City, IA
This downtown festival features a Culinary Row, Fun Zone for kids and Sunday fireworks in addition to music.
This town in Chippewa National Forest, between Walker and Grand Rapids, calls itself the Home of Bigfoot. There will be a Bigfoot Olympics, a Bigfoot-calling contest, Bigfoot storytelling, a scavenger hunt and a petting zoo.
Thunder Bay, ON
This festival has a scenic location in Marina Park, on the Lake Superior waterfront.
The big free festival in Grant Park offers lots of food and music.
Look for the four R's in this western Wisconsin town: roping, bull riding, steer wrestling and barrel racing. A parade is on Saturday.
This show and swap meet brings up to 130,000 people to this village east of Stevens Point.
This easy-going, family-friendly festival features more than 70 performers from eight countries, 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.
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.
Look for minstrels, cancan dancers, French lessons, a Mardi Gras parade and a 43-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower in Cathedral Square Park.
This year, performers at this big fest include Lady Antebellum and Neal McCoy. There's a band contest, too.
At the airport, the Balloon and Rib Fest features hot-air balloons, kite-flying, a petting zoo, music and fireworks.
On Saturday and Sunday, artists decorate downtown during Chalkfest. There's a shuttle bus from downtown.
There's a Music Fest, carnival and car and motorcycle show in Petersen Park the first weekend and a children's ice cream social, arts and crafts fair and Sunday parade the second weekend in Veteran's Memorial Park.
Walnut Grove, MN
The festival in this western Minnesota town revolves around the book "On the Banks of Plum Creek.''
Des Moines, IA
This indie and jam music festival (named for the junction of two interstates) is at Western Gateway Park.
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.
Praise the Loud at this ticketed rock-music fest at the Basilica of St. Mary on the edge of downtown.
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.
The festival in this Swedish town just north of the Twin Cities features fireworks, a car show and a parade.
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.
There's a carnival, pet parade, ice-cream eating contest and live bands in the town on the Fox River.
Clear Lake, IA
There are professional races plus a tour, blues music and craft beer at this festival based in City Park.
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.
This 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.
Detroit Lakes, MN
This big festival celebrates its 84th 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.
This free folk and roots festival is in Viroqua's Eckhart Park.
This music and arts festival in the Longfellow neighborhood, near Harriet Brewery and Midtown light-rail station, features five stages and 20 bands, including Cornbread Harris, Erik Koskinen and Kent Burnside and the New Generation.
Moose Lake, MN
See the beautiful stones on display, then dig for them at 3 p.m. Saturday during the Agate Stampede, when a load of rocks seeded with 400 pounds agates, $400 in quarters and $100 in 50-cent pieces is dumped downtown.
There's also music and an art fair.
Grand Marais, MN
This juried art show along the Lake Superior harbor includes children's activities, art demonstrations, a pie social and live music.
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.
This town on the St. Croix River celebrates with a concert, hike, cruise, kids' fishing derby, Native American celebration and Civil War encampment and ice cream social at the Octagon House.
Professional musicians, many of them world-famous, offer free classical concerts in Millennium Park's beautiful Pritzker Pavilion.
New London, MN
In this lakes town near Sibley State Park, there's a water-ski show, parade, kids' fishing derby and fireworks.
This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features top national musicians.
This big rock festival is held in Ford Festival Park.
Eau Claire, WI
Toby Keith, Jake Owen and Keith Urban are among the headliners of this fest. There's camping on-site.
Sauk Centre, MN
The hometown of the Nobel Prize-winning author celebrates with turtle races, bicycle stunts, Friday fireworks, a craft fair, music and a parade Saturday.
Bay City, MI
Ten schooners, barques and brigs will arrive Thursday, part of the Tall Ships Challenge.
From Friday to Sunday, a festival includes on-board tours, day sail excursions, an art fair and many children's activities. In the evenings, maritime musicians play at Ballads and Brews.
The ships will leave Monday morning. They include the Picton Castle, the Pride of Baltimore II, the U.S. Brig Niagara, the St. Lawrence II, the Bluenose II and the 15th-century replica Santa Maria from Spain.
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.
La Crosse, WI
Listen to local, regional and national storytellers spin tales at the Pump House. There will also be music and arts and crafts.
St. Paul, MN
This free, all-ages festival is in Mears Park.
New Ulm, MN
In addition to German music, food and beer, this festival at the Brown County Fair Grounds features stein-holding, barrel-rolling and sauerkraut-eating contests, plus a Sunday parade.
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.
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.
This indie and alt-rock festival is in Union Park. Headliners include Mavis Staples, Low and the Isley Brothers.
This folk-music festival in Tourist Park also features a juried arts and crafts show and camping on-site.
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.
This music festival along the St. Croix River also features lumberjack shows and such attractions as a downhill derby, hammerschlagen, helicopter rides and a parade at 1 p.m. Sunday.
St. Croix Falls, WI
St. Croix Falls and its cross-river neighbor, Taylors Falls, pay tribute to lumberjacks and river pigs with rock and country music, an arts and crafts fair, a Saturday parade and fireworks.
This Fox Cities town celebrates its heritage with toilet-paper tosses, lawn games, concerts, human foosball and a firefighter tug of war.
This hamlet on Lake Pepin, a favorite day trip destination for Twin Citians, becomes a shopping mecca during this big fair.
Listen to island music on the shore of Lake Superior.
In the downtown square, there will be circus-themed performances, walking tours, music, children's activities and a Big Top parade.
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.
Menomonee Falls, WI
This event at Old Falls Village features Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, storytelling and a soldier encampment with medical and cooking demonstration. General Grant narrates the Battle of Cedar Run, 2 p.m. both days.
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.
Listen to music on the square in this town just over the Wisconsin border from Lake Geneva.
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.
The City of Lakes holds a Torchlight Parade, water-ski shows and Saturday fireworks.
It's the 53rd year of this friendly, authentic and very large festival of Scandinavian culture. It features a Viking encampment, kids' games, artisan demonstrations, lutefisk-eating and Nordic rock-throwing contests and a big parade at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
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 Saturday.
Green Bay, WI
Nine schooners and brigs will arrive at Leicht Memorial Park on Thursday, part of the Tall Ships Challenge.
From Friday to Sunday, a festival includes on-board tours, day sail excursions, maritime entertainment, kids' activities, music, world's largest rubber duck and, on Friday, fireworks.
The ships will leave Monday morning. They include the Picton Castle, the Pride of Baltimore II, the U.S. Brig Niagara and the 15th-century replica Santa Maria from Spain.
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.
Prairie du Chien, WI
This Mississippi River festival on historic St. Feriole Island features 12 bands on two stages, with onsite camping.
There's a pedal tractor pull, duck derby, firemen's water fight and parade.
The festival in this lake town on the Heartland State Trail features an inflatable obstacle course, hula-hoop instruction, a casting contest, music on three stages, kids' games, an ice cream-eating contest and a parade Saturday.
This festival on the shores of Lake Minnewaska is famous for its lighted pontoon parade on Saturday, followed by fireworks. On Sunday, there's a parade on land, followed by a water-ski show.
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.
Look for dachshunds, dirndls and lots of oompah music at this big party at Henry Maier Festival Park on Lake Michigan.
This free harborfront festival features locally produced specialties as well as cooking demonstrations, gardening workshops and music on three stages.
This giant hot-air balloon festival includes daily flights, rides for the public, music, night glows and closing fireworks.
Grand Haven, MI
There's nightly entertainment on the waterfront, a downtown carnival, tours of Coast Guard cutters, a Grand Parade and fireworks.
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.
Crystal Lake, IL
Watch or enter the cardboard-boat races on Main Beach, where prizes are awarded in many categories.
This show, between Bradford and McKinley beaches on the lakefront, features many aerobatics and features the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and, on the water, the Badgerland Ski Team.
Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Reenactors, musicians and artisans bring back the fur-trade era with cannon-firing, puppet shows, storytelling and games.
Battle Lake, MN
The festival in this lake-resort town near Glendalough State Park features walking tours, human foosball, turtle races, Civil War reenactors, a water-ski show and a parade at 7 p.m. Saturday, followed by a street dance and fireworks.
This pottery town east of Madison celebrates the arts fueled by fire, including clay, glass and metal. It includes fire dancing, music from seven bands, demonstrations and food, including wood-fired pizza. Fest-goers can design their own tiles to be created during a hot-iron pour Saturday.
Sturgeon Bay, WI
Nine ships will gather off Sherwood Point between 4 and 5 p.m., then enter the harbor as a fleet and dock overnight.
The ships will come from Green Bay and in the morning will sail to Algoma, from which they will race to Kenosha.
There are chainsaw artists and alligator shows as well as a carnival and grandstand acts that include national country musicians. Headliners include Brooks & Dunn, Jake Owen, Nickelback and Brad Paisley.
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 on Sunday.