MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Summer festivals 2016

May

  • (May 22 – 29)Duluth Dylan Festival

    Duluth, MN

    The town in which Bob Dylan was born celebrates the singer's 75th birthday with a Blood on the Tracks train ride, a singer-songwriter contest, a bus tour, films, music and a trivia contest.

     

     

     


  • (May 26 – 30)North Iowa Band Festival

    Mason City, IA

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


  • (May 27 – 28)CelebrAsian Asian Heritage Festival

    Des Moines, IA

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


  • (May 27 – 30)Chicago Gaelic Park Irish Festival

    Oak Forest, IL

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


  • (May 28 – 29)Native American Festival

    St. Ignace, MI

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


June

  • (Jun 3 – 5)Fresh Art Spring Tour

    Lake Pepin, WI

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


  • (Jun 3 – 5)Iowa Arts Festival

    Iowa City, IA

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


  • (Jun 3 – 5)Festa Italia

    Fitchburg, WI

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


  • (Jun 3 – 12)Aquafest

    Rice Lake, WI

    The festival in this northwest Wisconsin lakes town includes a carnival, art fair, kids' fishing derby, car show, live bands and, on the last day, a parade followed by a water-ski show.


  • (Jun 4 – 5)Wisconsin state-parks open house

    All state parks, WI

    Visit a state park without paying the daily vehicle fee, $8 for residents and $11 for non-residents.


  • (Jun 9 – 12)Pride of the Fox Riverfest

    St. Charles, IL

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


  • (Jun 9 – 11)Wizard of Oz Festival

    Grand Rapids, MN

    Judy Garland's hometown will offer such events as a trivia game, costume and singing contests, a petting zoo, a picnic, talks and a free showing of the famous movie under the stars.


  • (Jun 9 – 12)Mount Horeb Summer Frolic

    Mount Horeb, WI

    Just west of Madison, this town celebrates with a bean-bag toss, dog show, volleyball, craft-beer tent, Saturday fireworks and Sunday parade. It also features the Midwest qualifier for the national Stihl lumberjack competition.

     


  • (Jun 10 – 12)Wannigan Days

    St. Croix Falls, WI

    St. Croix Falls and its cross-river neighbor, Taylors Falls, offer rock-music tributes, an arts and crafts fair, bed races and piggy-back races, a parade and fireworks.


  • (Jun 11 – 12)Wells Street/Old Town art fairs

    Chicago, IL

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


  • (Jun 15 – 19)Steamboat Days

    Winona, MN

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


  • (Jun 16 – 19)Steamboat Days

    Burlington, IA

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


  • (Jun 16 – 19)Harborfest

    South Haven, MI

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


  • (Jun 16 – 19)Old Canal Days

    Lockport, IL

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

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


  • (Jun 17 – 19)Great Galena Balloon Race

    Galena, IL

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


  • (Jun 17 – 19)Bridgefest

    Houghton/Hancock, MI

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


  • (Jun 17 – 18)More on 34

    Aurora to Galesburg, IL

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


  • (Jun 18 – 19)Midsummer Fest

    Coon Valley, WI

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


  • (Jun 24 – 26)Water Ski Days

    Lake City, MN

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


  • (Jun 24 – 25)Midwest Viking/Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival

    Moorhead, MN

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


  • (Jun 25 – 26)Spring Iowa Barn Tour

    Northeast, IA

    This year's tour of historic barns is in Dubuque County.


  • (Jun 25)Shake the Lake

    Madison, WI

    This pre-Fourth festival on the shores of Lake Monona includes live bands, a human cannonball, a roller-derby exhibition, the UW marching band, kids' activities and fireworks.


  • (Jun 30 – Jul 4)Sawdust Days

    Oshkosh, WI

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


July

  • (Jul 1 – 3)Eyes to the Skies Festival

    Lisle, IL

    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.


  • (Jul 1 – 2)Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

    Davenport, IA

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


  • (Jul 1 – 3)Iowa City Jazz Festival

    Iowa City, IA

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


  • (Jul 1 – 3)Ribfest

    Naperville, IL

    Headliners include Sheryl Crow, Lee Brice, 3 Doors Down and the Gin Blossoms in Knoch Park, where there's also magic shows, kids' games, food and fireworks on the last evening.


  • (Jul 4)Red White and Boom

    Minneapolis, MN

    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 downtown.

     


  • (Jul 6 – 10)Karl Oskar Days

    Lindstrom, MN

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


  • (Jul 8 – 10)Blues Festival

    Thunder Bay, ON

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


  • (Jul 8 – 17)Northwest Water Carnival

    Detroit Lakes, MN

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


  • (Jul 8 – 10)Blissfest

    Cross Village, MI

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


  • (Jul 8 – 10)Wild Rice Festival

    Deer River, MN

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


  • (Jul 8 – 10)Bicycle, Blues and BBQ Festival

    Clear Lake, IA

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


  • (Jul 8 – 10)Sub Fest

    Manitowoc, WI

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


  • (Jul 9 – 10)Phelps Mill Festival

    Phelps, MN

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

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


  • (Jul 13 – 17)Water Days

    New London, MN

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


  • (Jul 13 – 17)Sinclair Lewis Days

    Sauk Centre, MN

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


  • (Jul 15 – 17)Bavarian Blast

    New Ulm, MN

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


  • (Jul 15 – 17)Highland Fest

    St. Paul, MN

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


  • (Jul 15 – 24)Fiesta Days

    McHenry, IL

    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 a 1:30 p.m. Sunday parade the second weekend in Veteran's Memorial Park.


  • (Jul 15 – 17)South Shore Frolics

    Milwaukee, WI

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


  • (Jul 15 – 17)Waterford Balloonfest

    Waterford, WI

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


  • (Jul 15 – 17)Lumberjack Days

    Stillwater, MN

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


  • (Jul 16)Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival

    Duluth, MN

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


  • (Jul 16 – 17)Ethnic Arts Festival

    Evanston, IL

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


  • (Jul 16)Port Fish Day

    Port Washington, WI

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


  • (Jul 17)Woodstock Folk Festival

    Woodstock, IL

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


  • (Jul 17)Chinatown Summer Fair

    Chicago, IL

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


  • (Jul 21 – 24)Sweet Corn Days

    Elkader, IA

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


  • (Jul 21 – 23)St. Croix RiverFest

    Hudson, WI

    This town on the St. Croix River celebrates with a concert, hike, cruise, wildlife demos, paddleboard and log-rolling demos, a fishing derby and a Civil War encampment and ice-cream social at the Octagon House.


  • (Jul 23)ArtBike + ArtCar Parade

    Minneapolis, MN

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


  • (Jul 27 – 30)Great River Days

    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 parade the last day.


  • (Jul 29 – 31)Pierogi Fest

    Whiting, IN

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


  • (Jul 29 – 31)Taste of Wisconsin

    Kenosha, WI

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


  • (Jul 29 – 30)Riverboat Days

    Wabasha, MN

    There's a lighted boat parade Friday, and on Saturday, a pedal tractor pull, duck derby, water fight and 6 p.m. parade.


  • (Jul 29)Blueberry Festival

    Marquette, MI

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


  • (Jul 29 – 30)Muskie Days

    Nevis, MN

    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 at 6 p.m. Saturday.


  • (Jul 31)Ride the Drive

    Madison, WI

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


August

  • (Aug. 2 – 7)Mississippi Valley Fair

    Davenport, IA

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


  • (Aug. 4 – 7)Brat Days

    Sheboygan, WI

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


  • (Aug. 5 – 7)Buffalo Bill Days

    Lanesboro, MN

    Ride the Root River State Trail, then enjoy music, kids' games, sports tournaments, fireworks and a parade on Sunday.


  • (Aug. 5 – 7)Fisherman's Picnic

    Grand Marais, MN

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


  • (Aug. 5 – 7)Lakeshore Weekend

    Manitowoc, WI

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


  • (Aug. 11 – 14)Sweet Corn Festival

    Mendota, IL

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


  • (Aug. 11 – 13)Ashley for the Arts music festival

    Arcadia, WI

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

    Headliners include Chicago and Kellie Pickler. Tickets for all three days are $10. In addition to music, there will be a hot-air balloon launch, car show, arts, children's activities and Saturday fireworks.


  • (Aug. 12 – 14)Ship & Shore Festival

    New Buffalo, MI

    In this Lake Michigan beach town, there's live music, children's activities, arts and crafts, a lighted boat parade and fireworks.


  • (Aug. 20)Soar on the Shore

    Algoma, WI

    Learn about kite-flying from professionals on Lake Michigan's Crescent Beach.


  • (Aug. 26 – 28)Artstreet

    Green Bay, WI

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


  • (Aug. 26 – 28)Mexican Fiesta

    Milwaukee, WI

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


  • (Aug. 26 – 27)Vinton Boomtown

    Vinton, IA

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


  • (Aug. 26 – 27)River Roots Live

    Davenport, IA

    This music festival in LeClaire Park, on the banks of the Mississippi, also features Rib Festival.

     


  • (Aug. 26 – 28)Great River Folk Festival

    La Crosse, WI

    This festival in Riverside Park includes children's activities, a traditional arts and crafts fair and music performances and workshops.


  • (Aug. 26 – 27)Summer Microbrew & Music Festival

    Traverse City, MI

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


  • (Aug. 26 – 28)Harbor Fest

    Marquette, MI

    This Lake Superior town celebrates with rock music, a classic car and motorcycle show, a luge run and inflatables for kids and tours of three tall ships: El Galeon, Pride of Baltimore II and When and If.


  • (Aug. 27 – 28)Festival in the Pines

    Eau Claire, WI

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


  • (Aug. 29 – Sep 4)National Old Time Country Bluegrass Festival

    LeMars, IA

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


September

  • (Sep. 1 – 4)Chicago Jazz Festival

    Chicago, IL

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


  • (Sep. 2 – 5)Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion

    Rollag, MN

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

    In 2016, the show will feature the Great Minneapolis Line.


  • (Sep. 2 – 4)Wilhelm Tell Festival

    New Glarus, WI

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


  • (Sep. 2 – 3)Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw

    Prairie du Sac, WI

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


  • (Sep. 2 – 4)Hot Air Balloon Festival

    Harvard, IL

    This first-time festival in Milky Way Park features tethered balloon rides, night glows and a battle of the bands.


  • (Sep. 3 – 4)Kites Over Lake Michigan

    Two Rivers, WI

    On Neshotah Beach, watch giant kites, precision stunt teams, a release of sky lanterns and fireworks. There will be live music Saturday night and free kite-making for kids on Saturday.


  • (Sep. 4 – 5)Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival

    Geneva, IL

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