MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Fall festivals 2021

July

  • (Jul 23 – 24)La Crosse Storytelling Festival

    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.


August

  • (Aug. 13 – 15)Art & Big Fork Festival

    Evanston, IL

    This downtown festival features live music and local food, beer, wine and fine art.


  • (Aug. 13 – 14)Quad Cities Balloon Festival

    East Moline, IL

    This festival at the Rock Island County Fairgrounds includes balloon glows, launches, tethered rides and a play area for children.


September

  • (Sep. 8 – 12)Defeat of Jesse James Days

    Northfield, MN

    In this college town south of the Twin Cities, there's a fine-arts festival, tractor pulls, a bike tour, reenactments of the famous bank raid and a Sunday parade.


  • (Sep. 8 – 12)Sandwich Fair

    Sandwich, IL

    This northeast Illinois fair, held since 1888, features exhibits, entertainment and music plus harness racing, tractor pulls and demolition derbies.


  • (Sep. 10 – 12)James J. Hill Days

    Wayzata, MN

    This Minneapolis suburb features a street market and carnival; dachshund races, a craft-beer fest, logrolling and fireworks on Saturday; and a parade on Sunday.


  • (Sep. 10 – 12)Villa Louis Carriage Classic

    Prairie du Chien, WI

    The Victorian estate on the Mississippi River hosts horses, restored carriages and drivers in period dress for competitive arena and cross-country sport driving, a passion of the frontier aristocrats who built it.


  • (Sep. 10 – 12)Festival of the Vine

    Geneva, IL

    There's an arts and crafts show, flower market, music, wine tasting and sampling of food from local restaurants.


  • (Sep. 10 – 12)Paw Paw Wine & Harvest Festival

    Paw Paw, MI

    This big festival in southwest Michigan wine country features music on three stages, Friday fireworks, an art fair, motorcycle and bicycle tours, grape stomps and a Sunday parade.


  • (Sep. 10 – 12)Harvest Moon Festival

    Ely, MN

    In Whiteside Park, there's an arts fair plus music, an old-time medicine show and pony rides and a petting zoo for kids.


  • (Sep. 10 – 12)Classic Boat & Schooner Rendezvous

    Bayfield, WI

    Schooners and sloops will gather in this Lake Superior town. There will be activities for children, an open house at the Coast Guard station and a Saturday boat parade.


  • (Sep. 11 – 12)Rock Bend Folk Festival

    St. Peter, MN

    This free, easygoing festival is in this Minnesota River town's Minnesota Square Park.


  • (Sep. 11 – 12)Laura Ingalls Wilder Days

    Pepin, WI

    The famous author's birthplace  celebrates with kids' pioneer games, a spelling bee and traditional music and crafts; pie-eating, fiddle and Laura contests; and a Sunday parade.


  • (Sep. 11)Ethnic Fest

    Walker, MN

    Alphornists, Scandinavian dancers and Anishinaabe drum and dance corps perform in this town on the shores of Leech Lake. There's also a parade.


  • (Sep. 11)Taste of the Trail

    Lanesboro, MN

    In Lanesboro, Whalan and Peterson on the Root River State Trail, enjoy music, wagon rides and free samples from local restaurants and growers. 

    Events are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


  • (Sep. 11)Sputnikfest

    Manitowoc, WI

    Help celebrate the 1962 crash landing of a 20-pound piece of Russia's Sputnik on a street in Manitowoc. There's a wacky costume contest, a Miss Space Debris pageant, a pet costume contest, a space-themed movie and music.


  • (Sep. 11)Whooping Crane Festival

    Princeton, WI

    Celebrate the whooping-crane migration with voyageur canoe trips, a marketplace, crane trivia, children's activities and bird walks.


  • (Sep. 11 – 12)Little Falls Arts & Crafts Fair

    Little Falls, MN

    This large fair, with nearly 600 artists, includes a car show and an antiques and collectibles section as well as a Man Cave.


  • (Sep. 12)St. Paul Classic Bike Tour

    St. Paul, MN

    Ride a 15-, 30- or 45-mile route along the Mississippi, lakes Como and Phalen and St. Paul parkways, starting and ending at the University of St. Thomas and punctuated by food and live music.


  • (Sep. 12)Scandinavian Day

    South Elgin, IL

    This festival in Vasa Park, along the Fox River, features music, dancing, food and crafts from the Nordic countries.


  • (Sep. 15 – 18)Pumpkin Festival

    Morton, IL

    This town near Peoria, home of the Libby's pumpkin-packing plant, calls itself the Pumpkin Capital of the World. The festival features pumpkin-boat races, pumpkin decorating, pie-eating contests, a craft fair, a pumpkin-pancake breakfast and a 10:30 a.m. Saturday parade.


  • (Sep. 16 – 19)Michigan Irish Music Festival

    Muskegon, MI

    There's music on three stages, plus dance and session tents, a cultural village, Celtic Kitchen and limerick contest.


  • (Sep. 17 – 19)Wo-Zha-Wa Days

    Wisconsin Dells, WI

    There's a juried arts and crafts show, a flea maraket, a street carnival and a parade Sunday.


  • (Sep. 17 – 18)Oktoberfest

    Chippewa Falls, WI

    Meet the Narren, enter a sauerkraut-eating contest, listen to polka and zydeco and watch the daily parade.


  • (Sep. 17 – 19)Cheese Days

    Monroe, WI

    This festival is held every other year in the capital of cheese country, the home of Swiss Colony and the last Limburger factory. There's a cow-milking contest, yodeling, dancing, tours and a big parade Sunday.


  • (Sep. 17 – 19)Grape Stomp

    Alexandria, MN

    Carlos Creek Winery hosts this festival, which features music on two stages, an art fair, grape stomps and "I Love Lucy'' look-alike contests.

     


  • (Sep. 17 – 19)Wauktoberfest

    Waunakee, WI

    This town just north of Madison celebrates with a craft-beer tasting, bike tour, music and lots of contests: frau carrying, yodeling, beer keg race, dachshund dash and Limburger cheese and sauerkraut eating.


  • (Sep. 17 – 19)Gemuetlichkeit Days

    Jefferson, WI

    This festival between Madison and Milwaukee is named for the German word for a cozy and congenial atmosphere. It includes sauerkraut-eating, nail-driving, facial hair and costume contests, a vintage car show, music and a parade at noon Sunday.


  • (Sep. 18 – 19)Wine & Harvest Festival

    Cedarburg, WI

    There's a pumpkin regatta — yes, people paddling hollowed-out pumpkins across Cedar Creek — at the fest in this historic mill town just north of Milwaukee. There's also a scarecrow contest, grape stomp, hay rides, juried arts fair and lots of food.


  • (Sep. 18 – 19)Vintage Illinois Wine Festival

    Utica, IL

    This festival in northwest Illinois features live music and wine-tasting from 25 Illinois vineyards.

     


  • (Sep. 18)Taste of the Trail

    Fountain/Preston/Harmony, MN

    On the Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail, sample local treats, listen to music, visit the National Trout Center, take wagon rides and play games.

     


  • (Sep. 18)Scarecrow Fest

    Phelps, WI

    See early fall color around this town in Nicolet National Forest. There's pumpkin-chucking, pumpkin and scarecrow contests, a craft fair, car show, hay rides and free chili and deep-fried pickles.


  • (Sep. 18 – 19)Art and Apples on the Lake

    Excelsior, MN

    On the shore of Lake Minnetonka, Art on the Lake combines with Apple Day, with an art fair, apple pie-eating contest, music and a street dance.


  • (Sep. 18)Harvest Fest & Street Art Auction

    Sturgeon Bay, WI

    This street party includes a car show, cornhole and chalk-art contests, music and artisans and winds up with the auction of 25 artist-created cherries.


  • (Sep. 23 – 25)Boats and Bluegrass

    Winona, MN

    This family-oriented festival in Prairie Island Park, on the Mississippi River, features disc golf and paddling as well as music. A weekend pass includes camping and canoeing, and kids under 16 are free with an adult ticket. Buy tickets early to save money.


  • (Sep. 23 – 26)Oktoberfest

    New Glarus, WI

    There will be music, wagon rides, chainsaw carving, children's activities and, of course, beer from New Glarus Brewing.


  • (Sep. 24 – 26)Cornish Festival

    Mineral Point, WI

    In the old lead-mining district in southwest Wisconsin, play shove ha'penny in the Kiddleywink Pub, eat figgyhobbin and pasties, listen to tommyknocker tales and tour Cornish miners' cottages.


  • (Sep. 24 – 26)Apple Festival

    Gays Mills, WI

    There'll be arts and crafts and music in this southwest Wisconsin village. The big parade is Sunday.


  • (Sep. 24 – 25)German Fest

    Guttenberg, IA

    There will be music, dancing, children's games and lock and dam tours in this antebellum town on the Mississippi River.


  • (Sep. 24 – 26)Cranberry Festival

    Warrens, WI

    At this huge festival in west-central Wisconsin, there'll be marsh tours, pie-eating contests and more than 1,000 booths selling antiques, produce and arts and crafts. The big parade is at 1 p.m. Sunday.


  • (Sep. 24 – 25)Kalona Fall Festival

    Kalona, IA

    This Mennonite community just southwest of Iowa City, famous for its quilts, offers pony rides, a pumpkin-carving contest, demonstrations of Old World artisanry, music and homemade potato chips, apple fritters, ice cream and chicken, biscuits and gravy.


  • (Sep. 24 – 25)Oktoberfest

    Des Moines, IA

    Take polka-dancing lessons, enter the Bier Maiden or stein-holding contests and win costume prizes at this outdoor fest under tents downtown.


  • (Sep. 24 – 25)Octoberfest

    Appleton, WI

    This large downtown festival is more general civic celebration than German festival, with an arts and crafts show, car show and music on five stages.


  • (Sep. 25 – 26)All-State Barn Tour in Iowa

    Across the state, IA

    It's the Iowa Barn Foundation's annual free, self-guided tour of restored historic barns.


  • (Sep. 25 – 26)Spirit of the St. Croix Art Festival

    Hudson, WI

    Music, food and a juried art show along the St. Croix River, in Lakefront Park.


  • (Sep. 25)Fall Festival

    Hayward, WI

    There's an arts and crafts fair, children's games, contests and live music downtown.


  • (Sep. 25)Taste of the Trail

    Rushford/Houston, MN

    On the Root River State Trail, sample local food, listen to music, tour a museum and visit the International Owl Center.


  • (Sep. 25)Beef-A-Rama

    Minocqua, WI

    In this northern Wisconsin lake-resort town, there's a Rump Roast Run, beef-eating contest and Parade of Beef.


  • (Sep. 25)Johnny Appleseed Festival

    Crystal Lake, IL

    In this northwest suburb of Chicago, there's pumpkin bowling, a pumpkin train and petting zoo, apple contests, music and a craft fair.


  • (Sep. 25 – 26)Doors Open Milwaukee

    Milwaukee, WI

    More than 150 historic buildings — theaters, breweries, mansions, cathedrals, hotels, museums — are open to the public, and many offer free guided tours.

    More than three dozen in-depth walking tours also are offered but sell out quickly.

     


  • (Sep. 30 – Oct 3)Oktoberfest

    La Crosse, WI

    At this big riverfront festival, there's food, music and carnival rides, plus the opening Torchlight Parade and the Maple Leaf Parade on Saturday morning.


October

  • (Oct. 1 – 3)Apple Festival

    Bayfield, WI

    It's the 60th year of this big festival on Lake Superior, which features  orchard tours, history walks, an apple-peeling contest, live music and a big parade at 2 p.m. Sunday.


  • (Oct. 1 – 3)Oktoberfest

    Amana, IA

    There's German music and food at this Amana Colonies village, plus contests that include the Eisenmann, or Iron Man, competition: Teams roll kegs, walk a balance beam with full steins of beer and saw logs. The parade is at 10 a.m. Saturday.


  • (Oct. 1 – 2)Chain O' Lakes Blues Festival

    Waupaca, WI

    Listen to the blues at the historic Indian Crossing Casino.


  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Big Island Rendezvous and Festival

    Albert Lea, MN

    This southern Minnesota festival is great for families, with a voyageur encampment of more than 1,000 reenactors dancing, demonstrating, competing and pulling visitors back into the fur-trade era.


  • (Oct. 2)Apple Affair

    Galesville, WI

    In the bluffs above Trempealeau, this festival features a 10-foot apple pie, a hunt for a Silver Apple, a race of floating wooden apples and a bicycle tour with a 20-mile route through apple orchards and hillier 35- and 60-mile routes.


  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Oktoberfest

    Cedarburg, WI

    This festival just north of Milwaukee features music and food plus goofy contests: best lederhosen/dirndl, sauerkraut-eating, a German spelling bee and a live Glockenspiel show.


  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Giant Pumpkin Fest

    Nekoosa, WI

    This town near Wisconsin Rapids calls itself the Giant Pumpkin Capital of Wisconsin and features a pumpkin-pie eating contest, pumpkin rolling and carving, a carnival and craft show.


  • (Oct. 2)Oktoberfest

    Galena, IL

    The Lions Club puts on this riverfront festival, which includes wiener-dog races, polka lessons, nail-driving, pumpkin-decorating and a beanbag tournament.


  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Olde English Faire/Autumn on Parade

    Oregon, IL

    This festival at Stronghold Conference Center features swordfighters, minstrels, magicians and the Gremlin's Garden for children.

    In town, more strolling performers appear at the Autumn on Parade Festival, and the Harvest Time Parade is on Sunday.


  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Rivertown Fall Art Festival

    Stillwater, MN

    This juried arts festival along the banks of the St. Croix River includes music and food vendors.


  • (Oct. 2 – 3)Cranberry Fest

    Eagle River, WI

    In this northeast Wisconsin lakes town, there will be marsh tours, music, a cranberry beer and wine garden, an antiques market, fiber-art show and crafts fair.


  • (Oct. 8 – 10)Scenic Drive Festival

    Van Buren County, IA

    In the southeast corner of Iowa, 11 villages feature quilt shows, scarecrow contests, bake sales, tours of historic sites, wine tasting and street fairs.


  • (Oct. 8 – 10)Northeast Iowa Artists' Studio Tour

    Decorah area, IA

    Drive through bluff country to see 56 artists at 43 sites around Decorah, Burr Oak, St. Lucas, Waukon, West Union, Cresco, New Albin, Lansing, Elgin and Clermont.


  • (Oct. 8 – 10)Apple Festival

    Charlevoix, MI

    In this Lake Michigan town, there's a pumpkin-carving contest, children's activities and an arts and crafts show.


  • (Oct. 8 – 10)Covered Bridge Studio Tour

    Cedarburg, WI

    This studio tour in eastern Wisconsin includes more than 60 artists in Cedarburg, Grafton, Port Washington, Mequon, Thiensville and Newburg.

     


  • (Oct. 9 – 10)Madison County Covered Bridge Festival

    Winterset, IA

    John Wayne was born there, George Washington Carver lived there and the famous covered bridges still are there. The festival in this town southwest of Des Moines features guided bus tours to the bridges, free horse-drawn wagon rides to Wayne's house, Old West shootouts, live music and a parade at 2 p.m. Sunday.


  • (Oct. 9 – 10)Galena Country Fair

    Galena, IL

    There's a juried fine arts/arts and crafts fair, farmers market, wine garden, bake shop, music and children's games in Grant Park.


  • (Oct. 9 – 10)Pumpkin Patch Festival

    Egg Harbor, WI

    There'll be music, children's games and arts and crafts in this Door County village.


  • (Oct. 9 – 10)Burgoo Festival

    Utica, IL

    The street party in this northern Illinois town, gateway to Starved Rock State Park, features vats of "pioneer'' stew, a crafts fair and music.


  • (Oct. 9 – 10)Shadows of the Blue and Gray

    Princeton, IL

    This Civil War festival off I-80, half an hour west of Starved Rock State Park, includes battle re-enactments both days.

    There will also be a Grand Entrance parade with the Lincolns, a Lincoln look-alike contest, medical scenarios and period music and dance.


  • (Oct. 13 – 24)Chicago International Film Festival

    Chicago, IL

    This year's program includes 65 films and nine programs of shorts that are screening at the ChiTown Movies Drive-In in Pilsen.


  • (Oct. 15 – 17)Southwest Wisconsin Fall Art Tour

    Southwest, WI

    This popular studio tour includes artists at studios between Mineral Point, Spring Green, Dodgeville and Baraboo.


  • (Oct. 16)Oktoberfest

    Elkhorn, WI

    This downtown festival near Lake Geneva features wine and beer tasting, music, a car show, arts and crafts and a chili cookoff.


  • (Oct. 16)Pumpkin Chuckin Fest

    Union Grove, WI

    The festival in this town, just west of Racine, features a pumpkin catapult contest, barbecue cook-off, pie auction, pumpkin-baking contest, children's games and music.


  • (Oct. 16)Family Fall Fest

    Madeline Island, WI

    On the largest of the Apostle Islands, there will be a vintage-car show, cider- and soap-making, pumpkin decorating, a pie-eating contest, street vendors and a kids' costume parade.


  • (Oct. 22 – 23)Moose Madness Festival

    Grand Marais, MN

    This Lake Superior town offers  a medallion hunt, family geocaching contest, fun run, appearances by Murray the Moose and family courses at the North House Folk School.


  • (Oct. 22 – 24)Autumnfest

    St. Croix Falls, WI

    This town on the St. Croix River offers live music, a car show, food trucks and an arts and crafts fair in Overlook Park.


  • (Oct. 23 – 30)Halloween

    Anoka, MN

    This town, just north of Minneapolis, calls itself the Halloween Capital of the World. Festivities include a house-decorating contest and a Grande Day Parade.


  • (Oct. 23 – 24)Earth Wood & Fire Artist Tour

    Lake Mills, WI

    Visit artists in their studios in and around Lake Mills, Cambridge and Fort Atkinson, between Madison and Milwaukee.


  • (Oct. 23)Oktoberfest

    Alexandria, MN

    Carlos Creek Winery's brewing partner, 22 Northmen, hosts this festival, which includes a stein-holding contest, pumpkin throwing, horse-drawn wagon rides and live bands.

     

     


  • (Oct. 27 – 31)Pumpkin Festival

    Sycamore, IL

    In this town between Rockford and DeKalb, there will be a pie-eating contest, carnival, craft shows, decorated pumpkins and a parade Sunday.


  • (Oct. 29 – 31)Jack O'Lantern Days

    Fish Creek, WI

    There will be mask making, pumpkin carving, trick or treating and haunted trolley tours.


  • (Oct. 30)Halloween Parade & Festival

    Galena, IL

    There will be hot-air balloons in the morning, kids' activities and a food festival in the afternoon, and the town's annual parade along Main Street at 6:30 p.m.


November

  • (Nov. 3 – 6)Big Water Film Festival

    Ashland, WI

    See a variety of shorts, full-length films and documentaries at the Bay Theater downtown.


  • (Nov. 5 – 7)Art Attack

    Minneapolis, MN

    In the northeast arts district, 350 artists open their studios and offer demonstrations and workshops. 


  • (Nov. 12 – 13)Gales of November

    Duluth, MN

    Listen to experts discuss Lake Superior shipwrecks and maritime history and join tours of the aquarium and Coast Guard Center.


  • (Nov. 13 – 14)Winter Art Fair Off the Square

    Madison, WI

    Art Fair Off the Square presents its winter edition in Monona Terrace, with 140 fine artists from around Wisconsin.