MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Great summer festivals

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

A tugboat in the Soo Locks.

© Beth Gauper

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

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 2017.

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

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 25–28.

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 26–29.

World's Largest Brat Fest in Madison, WI There's music on four stages, plus kids' games, a sports zone, carnival rides and Sunday fireworks. Admission is free. Outside the Alliant Energy Center. May 26–29.

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 27–29.

BobFest in Spring Green, WI The Spring Green General Store in this artistic town on the Wisconsin River celebrates Bob Dylan's 76th birthday with free outdoor music. May 28.

First weekend in June

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. June 2–3.

Gospel Festival in Chicago, IL This free music festival Millennium Park also includes an art fair and a kids' activity zone. June 2–3.

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 on Saturday.   June 2–4.

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 Saturday. June 2–4.

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 2–4.

Edina Art Fair in Edina, MN The juried show in this posh southern Minneapolis suburb draws 375 exhibitors and 60,000 people. June 2–4.

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 2–4.

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 3.

Milwaukee Highland Games in Wauwatosa, WI Listen to bagpipe bands, eat Scottish food and watch sheepdogs, Highland dancers and athletes. June 3.

Chocolate Fest in Hortonville, WI The festival in this small town just west of Appleton features a chocolate-eating contest, a Tour de Chocolate bike ride, a bicycle rodeo, an Artisan Village and fireworks. June 3.

Outta Sight Kite Flight in Kenosha, WI Fly kites along Lake Michigan in Kennedy Park. June 3–4.

Grand Old Days in St. Paul, MN The popular Grand Avenue street party expands to two days this year, with a new arts and culture district, plus entertainment, family fun and sports zones. A parade starts at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. June 4.

Ride for the Arts in Milwaukee, WI This bicycle ride along the Lake Michigan lakefront includes routes of 5, 12, 25, 40 and 66 miles. 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 4.

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 4.

A lumberjack on a boom run.

© Beth Gauper

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

Second weekend in June

Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire, WI This family-friendly acoustic festival is near Eau Claire. There's camping onsite. June 8–10.

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 8–11.

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 Sunday. June 8–11.

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 9–10.

Winstock Country Festival in Winsted, MN Keith Urban and Brantley Gilbert headline this festival just west of Minneapolis. June 9–10.

America's River Festival in Dubuque, IA This riverside music festival includes a motocross show, movie tent and children's games and rides. June 9–10.

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 9–11.

Blues Festival in Chicago, IL The largest of Chicago's free music festivals draws 750,000 people to Grant Park.  June 9–11.

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 to the public in early April; some tours sell out quickly. June 9–11.

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 9–11.

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 9–18.

Northern Spark in Minneapolis, MN From sunset to sunrise, artists perform a variety of projects at museums and outdoor venues along the Green Line light rail between Minneapolis and St. Paul.  June 10.

Wine & Food Festival in Leland, MI Sample local wines and listen to music at this festival on the Leelanau Peninsula. June 10.

Irish Festival in Oshkosh, WI This festival in Riverside Park on the Fox River includes Irish music, food and dancing. June 10–11.

Third 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 9–18.

Rose Festival in State Center, IA This town east of Ames calls itself Iowa's rose capital, and it celebrates with garden tours, children's games, a truck and tractor pull, music, fireworks and a parade at 10 a.m. Saturday. June 15–18.

Eaux Claires Music Festival in Eau Claire, WI Bon Iver returns for a third year with new acts. There's camping on-site. June 16–17.

Monroe Balloon Rally in Monroe, WI There will be balloon glows and flights, weather permitting, as well as blues bands, a car show and an arts and crafts fair. June 16–17.

Polish Fest in Milwaukee, WI This big festival on the lakefront features lots of hearty food, a piano contest, storytelling, vodka-tasting, folk arts and polka dancing. June 16–18.

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 16–18.

Stone Arch Bridge Festival in Minneapolis, MN On the banks of the Mississippi, 250 artists show their wares around St. Anthony Main. There are also three stages, art for kids and a car show. June 16–18.

GermanFest in St. Paul, MN This free festival at the Historic Schmidt Brewery features German folklore, storytelling, games and history as well as food, beer and music. June 16–18.

Fyr Bal Festival in Ephraim, WI It's the 53rd annual Scandinavian midsummer festival in this Door County village. There's a regatta, historic walking tours, artisan market, trolley rides, Fur Ball pet parade, cake walk and ice-cream and cherry-pie eating contests. June 17.

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 17.

Custer Fair 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 17–18.

Country USA in Oshkosh, WI Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line and Rascal Flatts are among the headliners of this year's big festival at Ford Festival Park. June 20–24.

Swedish Days Festival in Geneva, IL This Fox River town on the western edge of Chicago offers music, a carnival, a Swedish cottage walk and a big parade at 1 p.m. Sunday.  June 20–25.

boats sail under lift bridge in Houghton, Mich.

© Beth Gauper

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

Fourth weekend in June

Country USA in Oshkosh, WI Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line and Rascal Flatts are among the headliners of this year's big festival at Ford Festival Park. June 20–24.

Swedish Days Festival in Geneva, IL This Fox River town on the western edge of Chicago offers music, a carnival, a Swedish cottage walk and a big parade at 1 p.m. Sunday.  June 20–25.

Twin Cities Jazz Festival in St. Paul, MN Listen to jazz in Mears Park, in St. Paul's Lowertown. June 22–24.

Lakes Jam in Brainerd, MN Jake Owen, Chris Janson and Montgomery Gentry headline this music-and-camping festival at Brainerd International Raceway. June 22–24.

Country Fest in Cadott, WI This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features Blake Shelton, Eric Church, Thomas Rhett and Alabama. June 22–25.

Musky Fest in Hayward, WI There will be a carnival, crafts, ice cream-eating contest and lots of festivities downtown, capped by the 1:30 p.m. Sunday parade. June 23–25.

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 23–25.

Summer Feast in Sun Prairie, WI This festival in Angell Park has three parts: the Fiery Foods Festival on Friday; the all-you-can-eat Bacon, Brew & BBQ Fest on Saturday; and Sunday Funday.  Admission is free on Friday and Sunday, when there will be family activities, live music, cooking classes and Junior Chef competitions. June 23–25.

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 24–25.

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, games, raptor demos and a strawberry shortcake-eating contest.   June 24–25.

Interpreters at Grand Portage.

© Torsten Muller

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

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, including Pink and Red Hot Chili Peppers. June 28–July 2.

Engineers Day in Sault Ste. Marie, MI It's the biggest day of the year for boat nerds at the Soo Locks. People can walk across the locks, and there's also an arts, crafts and family fun fair. June 30.

Northwoods Blues Festival in Chippewa Falls, WI The blues festival moves from Spooner to the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. June 30–July 1.

Petunia Festival in Dixon, IL This festival in the Hometown of Ronald Reagan features music, a carnival, fireworks and a parade. June 30–July 4.

Riverfest in La Crosse, WI This riverfront festival includes music, a strongman contest, clowns, magicians, a hypnotist and a water-ski show. June 30–July 4.

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 1–8.

Perkinstown Outhouse Race in Medford, WI Bring your own throne to this race at Perkinstown Park. Teams of four pushers and one squatter compete for the titles "hardest pushers'' and "prettiest potty.'' July 4.

Taste of Chicago in Chicago, IL The big free festival in Grant Park offers lots of food and music. July 5–9.

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 1–8.

Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI They call this the world's largest music festival. More than 800 acts perform on 11 stages along Lake Michigan, including Pink and Red Hot Chili Peppers. July 4–9.

Taste of Chicago in Chicago, IL The big free festival in Grant Park offers lots of food and music. July 5–9.

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 6–8.

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 6–8.

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 6–9.

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. July 6–9.

Driftless Music Festival in Viroqua, WI This free folk and roots festival is in Viroqua's Eckhart Park. July 8.

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 8–9. 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 8–9.

A steamboat float in Winona's Steamboat Days parade.

© Beth Gauper

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

Third weekend in July

Rock Fest in Cadott, WI This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features top national musicians. July 13–15.

Rock USA in Oshkosh, WI This big rock festival is held in Ford Festival Park. July 13–15.

Bastille Days in Milwaukee, WI Look for minstrels, cancan dancers, French lessons, a Mardi Gras parade and a 43-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower in Cathedral Square Park. July 13–16.

Hodag Country Festival in Rhinelander, WI This year, performers at this big fest include Frankie Ballard and Neal McCoy. There's a band contest, too. July 13–16.

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 13–16.

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 14–15.

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 14–16.

Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, IL This indie and alt-rock festival is in Union Park. July 14–16.

Honor the Earth Pow-wow in Hayward, WI 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. July 14–16.

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 15.

Minnesota Scottish Fair & Highland Games in Eagan, 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 15.

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 15–16.

Charlevoix Venetian Festival in Charlevoix, MI 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. July 15–22.

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.''

Fourth weekend in July

Charlevoix Venetian Festival in Charlevoix, MI 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. July 15–22.

Aquatennial in Minneapolis, MN The City of Lakes holds a Torchlight Parade, water-ski shows and Saturday fireworks. July 19–22.

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 20–22.

Moondance Jam in Walker, MN This big classic-rock and camping festival celebrates its 26th year.  July 20–22.

Country Jam in Eau Claire, WI Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley and Trace Adkins are  among the headliners of this fest. There's camping on-site. July 20–22.

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 21–22.

Lowertown Blues & Funk Festival in St. Paul, MN This free, all-ages festival is in Mears Park. July 21–22.

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 21–23.

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 21–23.

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 22.

Wenonga Days in 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.     July 22–23.

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 24–30.

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 25–30.

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.

Fifth weekend in July

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 24–30.

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 25–30.

Nordic Fest in Decorah, IA It's the 51st year of 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 27–29.

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 28–29.

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 28–29.

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 28–30.

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 28–30.

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 28–Aug. 5.

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 28–Aug. 6.

Rendezvous at the Sault in Sault Ste. Marie, MI Reenactors, musicians and artisans bring back the fur-trade era with cannon-firing, puppet shows, storytelling and games. July 29–30.

Fans listen to music at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

© Beth Gauper

Fans listen to music at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

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 28–Aug. 5.

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 28–Aug. 6.

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. Aug. 3–5.

WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, MN Luke Bryan and Zac Brown Band are among the headliners at this big country festival in west-central Minnesota. Aug. 3–5.

Country on the River in Prairie du Chien, WI Chris Stapleton is among the headliners performing on two stages on St. Feriole Island. Aug. 3–5.

Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL This big music festival features dozens of bands and, unlike other Grant Park festivals, is not free. Reserve rooms far in advance. Aug. 3–6.

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 on the last day. Aug. 3–6.

Mile of Music in Appleton, WI More than 180 singer-songwriters perform at more than 40 venues along College Avenue downtown. Aug. 3–6.

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. Aug. 3–13.

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. 4.

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. 4–6.

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 to avoid congestion. Aug. 4–6.

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. 4–6.

Tall Timber Days in Grand Rapids, MN In this longtime logging town, there will be lumberjack shows, chainsaw carving, music and a parade at 1 p.m. Sunday. Aug. 4–6.

Powderhorn Art Fair in Minneapolis, MN This smaller art festival in Powderhorn Park, in south Minneapolis, is not far from the big Uptown Art Fair. Aug. 5–6.

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. 6–19.

Fourth of July on Madeline Island.

© Beth Gauper

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

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. Aug. 3–13.

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. 6–19.

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. There's also a parade, fireworks, children's games, concerts and carnival rides. Aug. 10–12. Event website/Port Byron

Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival in Richmond, MN This 38h annual family-friendly festival includes music on five stages and workshops at El Rancho Mañana Campground, 20 miles west of St. Cloud. Aug. 10–13.

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. 10–13.

Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, IA See a diaper derby, outhouse races and mullet contest, and don't miss the butter sculptures. Aug. 10–20.

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. 11–12.

Burger Fest in Seymour, WI This town west of Green Bay calls itself Home of the Hamburger, based on a local 15-year-old who put ground-beef patties in a bun, called them hamburgers and sold them at the Seymour Fair in 1885. The festival features a ketchup slide, burger-eating contest and parade at 11 a.m. Saturday, plus music, a car show and a hot-air balloon rally. Aug. 11–12.

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. 11–13.

Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth, MN The 29th annual music fest on the Lake Superior harbor showcases national and regional acts on three stages. Aug. 11–13.

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. 11–13.

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. 11–13.

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. 11–13.

Pure Water Days in Chippewa Falls, WI There's a big parade downtown, followed by the Duck Splash Festival in Allen Park, then fireworks. Aug. 12.

Scottville Clown Band.

© Beth Gauper

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

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. 6–19.

Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, IA See a diaper derby, outhouse races and mullet contest, and don't miss the butter sculptures. Aug. 10–20.

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. 16–20.

Irish Fest in Milwaukee, WI The nation's largest Irish festival features 100 acts on 16 stages, plus children's activities, red hair and freckle contests and demonstrations by Irish dog breeds. In Henry Maier Festival Park. Aug. 17–20.

Ki-Chi-Saga Days in Chisago City, MN The fest in this town just north of St. Paul features an Old World market, sandcastle and skateboard contests, Swedish dancers, a horn hunt and a parade at 2 p.m. Sunday. Aug. 17–20.

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. 18–19.

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. 18–20.

HarborPark Jazz & Blues Festival in Kenosha, WI This free festival is in the lakefront Celebration Place. Aug. 19.

Air & Water Show in Chicago, IL The 59th annual free show features aerobatics, extreme flying and parachuting off North Avenue Beach. Aug. 19–20.

World War I Weekend in Fort Snelling, MN At this historic fort in the Twin Cities, watch military demonstrations, learn about women during wartime and stand in a recreated WWI-style trench. Aug. 19–20.

An entertainer at the Phelps Mill Festival.

© Beth Gauper

An aerialist entertains children and their parents at Phelps Mill Festival in Minnesota.

Fourth weekend in August

Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, MN Try flights at the Craft Beer Hall, eat food on a stick, listen to free concerts and watch the 2 p.m. daily parade. Aug. 24–Sept. 4.

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. 25–26.

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. 25–26.

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. 25–27.

Crossroads Blues Festival in Rockford, IL Enjoy a day of blues in Lyran Park, with food from local restaurants. Aug. 26.

Labor Day weekend

Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, MN Try flights at the Craft Beer Hall, eat food on a stick, listen to free concerts and watch the 2 p.m. daily parade. Aug. 24–Sept. 4.

Wisconsin Highland Games in Waukesha, WI In addition to heavy athletics — throwing weights, hammers, logs and sacks of hay — there will be piping, drumming, dancing, longbow competitions, dog demonstrations and traditional Scottish food. Sept. 1–3.

Taste of Madison in Madison, WI This free benefit festival on Capitol Square includes 200 menu items from more than 80 restaurants, all priced at $1-$4. There's also music on three stages.   Sept. 2–3.

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. Sept. 2–4.

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. 4.

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



Last updated on November 30, 2016

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