MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Fall festivals 2022


  • (Jul 9 – 10)Art Fair On 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 22 – 23)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.


  • (Aug. 12 – 13)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.


  • (Sep. 7 – 11)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. 7 – 11)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. 9 – 11)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. 9 – 11)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. 9 – 11)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)Laura Ingalls Wilder Days

    Pepin, WI

    The famous author's birthplace celebrates this year with a scaled-down festival this year at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, including traditional music and crafts, pie-eating and fiddling. 

  • (Sep. 10)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. 10)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. 10 – 11)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. 10 – 11)Festival of Arts and Gallery Tour

    Bayfield, WI

    This juried art show, in Memorial Park on the shore of Lake Superior, includes a live art auction and a tour of studios and galleries, with artist demonstrations.

  • (Sep. 11)St. Paul Classic Bike Tour

    St. Paul, MN

    Ride a 1-, 29- or 32-mile route along the Mississippi, lakes Como and Phalen and St. Paul parkways, starting and ending at Como Park Pavilion and punctuated by food and live music.

  • (Sep. 11)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. 14 – 17)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 – 18)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. 16 – 17)Oktoberfest

    Chippewa Falls, WI

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

  • (Sep. 16 – 18)World Food & Music Festival

    Des Moines, IA

    In downtown's East Village, eat at more than 50 cultural cafes for $5 or less (or taste for $1), shop at the world marketplace or listen to musicians strolling the streets or on stage.

  • (Sep. 16 – 18)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. 16 – 18)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. 16 – 18)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. 16 – 18)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. 16 – 18)Hot Air Balloon Days

    Creston, IA

    In this town southwest of Des Moines, there are balloon races and night glows, a parade with marching-band contest, an arts and crafts fair and a flea market.

  • (Sep. 16 – 18)Mahkato Wacipi

    Mankato, MN

    This traditional powwow in Land of Memories Park commemorates the 38 Dakota who were hanged after the 1862 U.S.-Dakota war.

  • (Sep. 17 – 18)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. 17 – 18)Vintage Illinois Wine Festival

    Utica, IL

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


  • (Sep. 17)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. 17)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. 17)Party on the Pavement

    Racine, WI

    Racine's biggest street festival features stages of entertainment and a car show, art walk, carnival rides and zones for kids and sports.

  • (Sep. 17 – 18)Apple Days

    Excelsior, MN

    On the shore of Lake Minnetonka, there's a history tour, apple pie-eating contest, music and a street dance.

  • (Sep. 17)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. 22 – 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. 22 – 25)Oktoberfest

    New Glarus, WI

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

  • (Sep. 23 – 25)Apple Festival

    Gays Mills, WI

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

  • (Sep. 23 – 24)Fall Fest

    Cable, WI

    In the colorful northwest Wisconsin woods, there'll be hay rides, corn maze, a chili cook-off, fish boil, arts and crafts and fireworks.

  • (Sep. 23 – 25)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. 

  • (Sep. 23 – 24)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. 23 – 25)Harvest Fair

    West Allis, WI

    This free festival at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds features lumberjack shows, pumpkin bowling, scarecrow-making, kids' rides and entertainment on three stages.

  • (Sep. 24)Fall Festival

    Hayward, WI

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

  • (Sep. 24)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. 24)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. 24 – 25)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. 28 – Oct 2)Grundy County Corn Festival

    Morris, IL

    The festival in this town on the Illinois River between Ottawa and Joliet offers stagecoach and train rides, a crackerbox derby, a pie-eating contest, music, a carnival, Saturday fireworks and a parade at 2 p.m. Sunday.

  • (Sep. 29 – Oct 1)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.

  • (Sep. 30 – Oct 2)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.

  • (Sep. 30 – Oct 2)Northeast Iowa Artists' Studio Tour

    Decorah area, IA

    Drive through scenic bluff country to see 42 artists at 31 sites around Decorah, Burr Oak, St. Lucas, Waukon, West Union, Cresco, New Albin, Lansing, Elgin and Clermont.


  • (Oct. 1)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. 1 – 2)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. 1 – 2)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. 1 – 10)Fermentation Fest

    Sauk City, WI

    This fest in the scenic hills of southwest Wisconsin is not only about pickles and sourdough bread but also cheese, chocolate, beer and wine. There will be demos, tastings, music, art, dance and Scandinavian cow calling.

    One of the most popular features is the 50-mile Farm/Art DTour driving (or bicycling) loop, lined with art installations.

  • (Oct. 1 – 2)Fall Village Market

    Mount Horeb, WI

    This town west of Madison offers vintage and handmade goods, live music and food trucks.


  • (Oct. 1 – 2)Rivertown Fall Art Festival

    Stillwater, MN

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

  • (Oct. 1 – 2)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. 7 – 9)Apple Festival

    Bayfield, WI

    It's the 61st 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. 7 – 9)Pumpkin Festival

    Highwood, IL

    Every year, this northern suburb of Chicago tries to break the record for most lighted jack-o-lanterns. In addition to all-you-can-carve stations, there will be costume, pie-eating and carving contests.

  • (Oct. 7 – 9)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. 7 – 8)Twin Cities Oktoberfest

    St. Paul, MN

    This festival at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds features craft beer, music, dancing and such competitions as stein-holding and nail-striking.

  • (Oct. 8 – 9)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. 8 – 9)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 – 9)Harvest Fest

    Stillwater, MN

    In this river town, there will be a pumpkin pie-eating contest, a pumpkin regatta on the St. Croix, a microbrew tasting and a pedal tractor pull.

  • (Oct. 8)Jack O' Lantern Festival

    Spooner, WI

    There's a pumpkin-carving and scarecrow-making contests, kids' inflatables, pumpkin roll and, in the evening, a zombie run in the forest, bonfires and live music.

  • (Oct. 8)Harvest Fest

    Wausau, WI

    On the 400 Block downtown, there will be free pumpkins, kids' tractor pulls, a petting zoo and other children's activities.

  • (Oct. 12 – 23)Chicago International Film Festival

    Chicago, IL

    Watch more than 80 films and 60 programs of shorts from around the world.

  • (Oct. 14 – 16)Fall Festival

    Sister Bay, WI

    This Door County festival features pumpkin bowling, a derby race, chainsaw carving, a pingpong-ball drop and a parade at 11 a.m. Saturday.

  • (Oct. 14 – 16)Southwest Wisconsin Fall Art Tour

    Southwest, WI

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

  • (Oct. 14 – 16)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. 21 – 22)Moose Madness Festival

    Grand Marais, MN

    This Lake Superior town offers a medallion hunt, scavenger hunt, sled-dog open house, games led by Murray the Moose and activities at North House Folk School.

  • (Oct. 22 – 29)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. 22)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. 26 – 30)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)Arts in the Dark Halloween parade

    Chicago, IL

    Floats, giant puppets and performances are part of the 6-8 p.m. parade along State Street.



  • (Nov. 4 – 6)Art Attack

    Minneapolis, MN

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

  • (Nov. 10)Beacon lighting at Split Rock Lighthouse

    Beaver Bay, MN

    This event, which commemorates the 1975 sinking of the ore freighter with 29 men, is the only time the public can see the interior of the light tower when the beacon is lighted.

  • (Nov. 11 – 12)Gales of November

    Duluth, MN

    Listen to experts discuss Lake Superior shipwrecks and maritime history. There are social events, too, open to the public.

  • (Nov. 12 – 13)Trainfest

    West Allis, WI

    The nation's largest operating model railroad show includes more than 60 scenic railroads, clinics for hobbyists and many children's activities.