MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Great summer festivals

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

A steamboat float in Winona's Steamboat Days parade.

© Beth Gauper

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

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 2018.

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

Duluth Dylan Festival in Duluth, MN The town in which Bob Dylan was born celebrates the singer's 76th birthday with a Blood on the Tracks train ride, a singer-songwriter contest, a bus tour, films, music and a trivia contest.       May 19–27.

North Iowa Band Festival in 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 24–28.

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 25–28.

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 25–28.

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 25–27.

CelebrAsian Asian Heritage Festival in Des Moines, IA This festival at Western Gateway Park features martial arts, lion dancers, chopstick races and a fashion show. May 25–26.

Chicago Gaelic Park Irish Festival in Oak Forest, IL In this south Chicago suburb, there's music on five stages, plus a petting zoo, hurling, theater, Irish dog and pony exhibits and red hair, freckle and bonnie baby contests. May 25–28.

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 26–28.

Native American Festival in 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. May 26–27.

BobFest in Spring Green, WI The Spring Green General Store in this artistic town on the Wisconsin River celebrates Bob Dylan's 77th birthday with free outdoor music. May 27.

Soundset in St. Paul, MN This hiphop festival is at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. May 27.

First weekend in June

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 1–3.

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 1–3.

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 1–2.

Aquafest in 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. June 1–10.

Fresh Art Spring Tour in 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. June 1–3.

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 1–3.

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 1–3.

Edina Art Fair in Edina, MN The juried show in this posh southern Minneapolis suburb draws 375 exhibitors and 60,000 people. June 1–3.

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 1–3.

Iowa Arts Festival in 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. June 1–3.

Gospel Festival in Chicago, IL This free music festival is in Millennium Park and across the street at the Cultural Center. June 1–2.

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 2.

Milwaukee Highland Games in Wauwatosa, WI Listen to bagpipe bands, eat Scottish food and watch sheepdogs, Highland dancers and athletes. June 2.

Wisconsin state-parks open house in All state parks, WI Visit a Wisconsin state park without paying the daily vehicle fee, $8 for residents and $11 for non-residents. June 2–3.

Outta Sight Kite Flight in Kenosha, WI Fly kites along Lake Michigan in Kennedy Park. June 2–3.

Grand Old Day in St. Paul, MN This popular Grand Avenue street party has four zones: entertainment, family fun, local artisans and sports and wellness. A parade starts at 9:30 a.m. at Dale Street. June 3.

Ride the Drive in 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. June 3.

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 3.

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 3.

boats sail under lift bridge in Houghton, Mich.

© Beth Gauper

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

Second weekend in June

Aquafest in 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. June 1–10.

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 7–10.

Festival of the Fox in St. Charles, IL See dragon-boat racing, a water-ski show, sand sculpting and car shows, all along the Fox River. June 7–10.

Mount Horeb Summer Frolic in 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.   June 7–10.

Blues Festival in Chicago, IL The largest of Chicago's free music festivals draws 750,000 people to Millennium Park.  June 8–10.

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 8–17.

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 8–9.

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 8–10.

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 8–10.

Winstock Country Festival in Winsted, MN Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert headline this festival just west of Minneapolis. June 8–9.

America's River Festival in Dubuque, IA This riverside music festival includes a motocross show, movie tent and children's games and rides.  June 8–9.

Northwoods Bluegrass Festival in Ladysmith, WI Six bluegrass bands play at this festival at the Rusk County Fairgrounds. On-site camping is available. June 8–9.

Windsurfing Regatta & Music Festival in Worthington, MN This breezy town in southwest Minnesota hosts windsurfing races on Lake Okabena and a free music festival, with headliner Neal McCoy. There will also be children's activities, a bike ride and a fun run. June 8–10.

Walleye Weekend in Fond du Lac, WI In addition to a fishing tournament, this free family fest features live music on four stages, a Friday parade and strongman, volleyball and cornhole competitions, plus a Familyland for small children and a Teen Village with a climbing wall, giant obstacle course and henna tattoo parlor. June 8–10.

Wells Street/Old Town art fairs in 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. June 9–10.

Wine & Food Festival in Leland, MI Sample local wines and listen to music at this festival on the Leelanau Peninsula. June 9.

Harry Potter Festival in Aurora, IL Mix potions, play quidditch, hunt for horcruxes and make wands, spellbooks and broomsticks in Diagon Alley. Tickets go on sale March 24 and likely will sell out. June 9–10.

Waterfront Festival in Madison, WI This festival in Yahara Place Park on Lake Monona features music on two stages, children's games and the popular Fools Flotilla canoe tour. June 9–10.

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 8–17.

Steamboat Days in 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. June 13–17.

Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, IL Professional musicians, many of them world-famous, offer free classical concerts in Millennium Park's beautiful Pritzker Pavilion. June 13.

Perham Turtle Fest in Perham, MN This town in the northwest Minnesota lakes region features turtle races, a rodeo, music, trolley rides, inflatable games and a parade Friday. June 13–17.

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 14–17.

Bridgefest in 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. June 14–17.

Steamboat Days in Burlington, IA There's a carnival, music on two stages, a parade Saturday and a Sunday art fair on Snake Alley. June 14–17.

Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire, WI This family-friendly acoustic festival is near Eau Claire. There's camping onsite. June 14–16.

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 14–17.

Jaycee Water Carnival in Hutchinson, MN This town just west of Minneapolis, on the Crow River, celebrates with a boat parade, fireworks, human foosball tournament, canoe races, water-ski show, car show and parade Sunday. June 14–17.

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 15–17.

Great Galena Balloon Race in 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. June 15–17.

More on 34 in Aurora to Galesburg, IL A 131-mile yard sale along U.S. 34 from Aurora to Galesburg, with events in many towns. June 15–16.

Northern Spark in Minneapolis, MN This year, the nighttime arts festival expands to two nights, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., with venues in downtown Minneapolis.  June 15–16.

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 concerts, art for kids and a car show. June 15–17.

Harborfest in South Haven, MI There will be a wooden boat show, dragon-boat racing, kids' activities, music and a craft fair. June 15–17.

Blues on the Fox in Aurora, IL Blues artists perform at the festival grounds on the Fox River, in the town where Chicago blues musicians recorded for RCA's Bluebird label in the 1930s. June 15–16.

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 15–16.

Fyr Bal Festival in Ephraim, WI It's the 54th 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 16.

Midsummer Fest in 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. June 16.

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 16–17.

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 Sunday.  June 19–24.

Country USA in Oshkosh, WI Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert and Keith Urban are among the headliners of this year's big festival at Ford Festival Park. June 19–23.

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 June

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 Sunday.  June 19–24.

Country USA in Oshkosh, WI Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert and Keith Urban are among the headliners of this year's big festival at Ford Festival Park. June 19–23.

Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, IL Professional musicians, many of them world-famous, offer free classical concerts in Millennium Park's beautiful Pritzker Pavilion. June 20.

Twin Cities Jazz Festival in St. Paul, MN Listen to jazz in Mears Park, in St. Paul's Lowertown. June 21–23.

Country Fest in Cadott, WI This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert and Brad Paisley. June 21–24.

Lakes Jam in Brainerd, MN Brantley Gilbert and George Thorogood are among the headliners at this music-and-camping festival at Brainerd International Raceway. June 21–23.

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 22–24.

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 22–24.

Water Ski Days in 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. June 22–24.

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 22–24.

Cedar Basin Jazz Festival in Cedar Falls, IA There will be 42 hours of free entertainment in Sturgis Park, including a Sunday morning gospel set and a jazz brunch. June 22–24.

Midwest Viking/Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival in 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. June 22–23.

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 23–24.

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 23–24.

Spring Iowa Barn Tour in Western, IA This tour of historic barns concentrates on barns in western Iowa, each with a story. There's also a picnic on Saturday. June 23–24.

Fourth of July on Madeline Island.

© Beth Gauper

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

Fifth weekend in June

Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI They call this the world's largest music festival. More than 800 acts perform on 11 stages along Lake Michigan. June 27–July 1.

Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, IL Professional musicians, many of them world-famous, offer free classical concerts in Millennium Park's beautiful Pritzker Pavilion. June 27.

Eyes to the Skies Festival in 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. June 29–July 1.

Iowa City Jazz Festival in Iowa City, IA This downtown festival features a Culinary Row, Fun Zone for kids and Sunday fireworks in addition to music. June 29–July 1.

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 29.

Northwoods Blues Festival in Chippewa Falls, WI The blues festival is at Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. There's camping on-site. June 29–30.

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. June 30–July 7.

Petunia Festival in Dixon, IL This festival in the Hometown of Ronald Reagan features music, a carnival, fireworks and a parade. July 3–8.

Red White and Boom in Minneapolis, MN There's live music and a movie Tuesday night. On the Fourth, 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.   July 3–4.

Sawdust Days in Oshkosh, WI This festival in Menomonee 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 two stages, including Sabor-a-Mexico. July 3–7.

Riverfest in La Crosse, WI This riverfront festival includes music, a strongman contest, clowns, magicians, a hypnotist and a water-ski show. July 4–7.

Ribfest in Naperville, IL Headliners include Jake Owen and Steven Tyler in Knoch Park, where there's also magic shows, kids' games, food and fireworks on the last evening. July 4–7.

First 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. June 30–July 7.

Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI They call this the world's largest music festival. More than 800 acts perform on 11 stages along Lake Michigan. July 3–8.

Petunia Festival in Dixon, IL This festival in the Hometown of Ronald Reagan features music, a carnival, fireworks and a parade. July 3–8.

Sawdust Days in Oshkosh, WI This festival in Menomonee 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 two stages, including Sabor-a-Mexico. July 3–7.

Riverfest in La Crosse, WI This riverfront festival includes music, a strongman contest, clowns, magicians, a hypnotist and a water-ski show. July 4–7.

Ribfest in Naperville, IL Headliners include Jake Owen and Steven Tyler in Knoch Park, where there's also magic shows, kids' games, food and fireworks on the last evening. July 4–7.

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 5–8.

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 5–7.

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 5–8.

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 6–7.

Blues Festival in Thunder Bay, ON This festival has a scenic location in Marina Park, on the Lake Superior waterfront. July 6–8.

Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, IA In LeClaire Park on the river, blues musicians celebrate the music that traveled up the Mississippi. Headliners will be Walter Trout and Jonny Lang. July 6–7.

Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN This big festival celebrates its 83rd 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. July 6–15.

80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines, IA This indie and jam music festival (named for the junction of two interstates) is at Western Gateway Park. July 6–7.

Wild Rice Festival in 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. July 6–8.

Bicycle, Blues and BBQ Festival in Clear Lake, IA There are professional races plus a tour, blues music and craft beer at this festival based in City Park. July 6–8.

Eaux Claires Music Festival in Eau Claire, WI Bon Iver returns for a fourth year with new acts. There's camping on-site. July 6–7.

Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis, MN Praise the Loud at this ticketed rock-music fest at the Basilica of St. Mary on the edge of downtown.  July 6–7.

Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, IL Professional musicians, many of them world-famous, offer free classical concerts in Millennium Park's beautiful Pritzker Pavilion. July 6–7.

A tugboat in the Soo Locks.

© Beth Gauper

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

Second weekend in July

Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN This big festival celebrates its 83rd 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. July 6–15.

Taste of Chicago in Chicago, IL The big free festival in Grant Park offers lots of food and music. July 11–15.

Karl Oskar Days in Lindstrom, MN The festival in this Swedish town just north of the Twin Cities features fireworks, a car show and a parade. July 11–15.

Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, IL Professional musicians, many of them world-famous, offer free classical concerts in Millennium Park's beautiful Pritzker Pavilion. July 11.

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 12–15.

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 12–14.

Hodag Country Festival in Rhinelander, WI This year, performers at this big fest include Clint Black and Toby Keith. There's a band contest, too. July 12–15.

Rock Fest in Cadott, WI This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features top national musicians. July 12–14.

Rock USA in Oshkosh, WI This big rock festival is held in Ford Festival Park. July 12–14.

Balloon Rally/Ribfest/Chalkfest in Wausau, WI 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. July 12–15.

Fiesta Days in 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 Sunday parade the second weekend in Veteran's Memorial Park. July 12–22.

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 13–14.

Square Roots Festival in Chicago, IL 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. July 13–15.

Blissfest in 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. July 13–15.

RiverSong Music Festival in Hutchinson, MN 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. July 13–14.

Sub Fest in Manitowoc, WI 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. July 13–15.

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 14–15.

Phelps Mill Festival in 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. July 14–15.

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 14–15.

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 14–15.

Driftless Music Festival in Viroqua, WI This free folk and roots festival is in Viroqua's Eckhart Park. July 14.

Woodstock Folk Festival in Woodstock, IL Listen to music on the square in this town just over the Wisconsin border from Lake Geneva. July 15.

Chinatown Summer Fair in 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. July 15.

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.

Third weekend in July

Fiesta Days in 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 Sunday parade the second weekend in Veteran's Memorial Park. July 12–22.

Aquatennial in Minneapolis, MN The City of Lakes holds a Torchlight Parade, water-ski shows and Saturday fireworks. July 18–21.

Water Days in New London, MN In this lakes town near Sibley State Park, there's a water-ski show, parade, kids' fishing derby and fireworks. July 18–22.

Sinclair Lewis Days in 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. July 18–21.

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 19–21.

Waterford Balloonfest in 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. July 19–22.

Country Jam in Eau Claire, WI Blake Shelton, Alabama and Locash are  among the headliners of this fest. There's camping on-site. July 19–21.

Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, IL Professional musicians, many of them world-famous, offer free classical concerts in Millennium Park's beautiful Pritzker Pavilion. July 19–22.

Bavarian Blast in 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. 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 20–21.

Highland Fest in 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. July 20–22.

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 20–22.

Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, IL This indie and alt-rock festival is in Union Park. July 20–22.

Lowertown Blues & Funk Festival in St. Paul, MN This free, all-ages festival is in Mears Park. July 20–21.

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 20–22.

Lumberjack Days in Stillwater, MN This music festival along the St. Croix River also features lumberjack shows and such attractions as a downhill derby, hammerschlagen and rides on gondolas, pontoon boats and tethered hot-air balloons.  July 20–22.

Wannigan Days in St. Croix Falls, WI St. Croix Falls and its cross-river neighbor, Taylors Falls, offer country music tributes, an arts and crafts fair, bed races and piggy-back races, a parade and fireworks. July 20–22.

Paperfest in Kimberly, WI This Fox Cities town celebrates its heritage with toilet-paper tosses, lawn games, concerts, human foosball and a firefighter tug of war. July 20–22.

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 21.

Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival in Duluth, MN Hear island music on Lake Superior, from Bayfront Festival Park. July 21.

Air and Water Show in Milwaukee, WI This show, between Bradford and McKinley beaches on the lakefront, features many aerobatics and features the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. July 21–22.

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 21–28.

Big Top Parade & Circus Celebration 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 21.

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 21.

Port Fish Day in 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. July 21.

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 23–29.

Interpreters at Grand Portage.

© Torsten Muller

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

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 21–28.

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 23–29.

Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, IL Professional musicians, many of them world-famous, offer free classical concerts in Millennium Park's beautiful Pritzker Pavilion. July 25.

Nordic Fest in Decorah, IA It's the 52nd 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 26–28.

Sweet Corn Days in 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 Saturday. July 26–29.

Burning Cow Music Festival in Sturgeon Bay, WI This fourth annual fest features emerging and established rock, bluegrass and alt country bands. There's on-site camping. July 26–28.

Pierogi Fest in 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. July 27–29.

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 27–Aug. 4.

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 27–29.

Taste of Wisconsin in Kenosha, WI This free harborfront festival features locally produced specialties as well as cooking demonstrations, gardening workshops and music on three stages. July 27–29.

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 27–Aug. 5.

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 27–28.

Riverboat Days in Wabasha, MN There's a pedal tractor pull, duck derby, firemen's water fight and 6 p.m. parade. July 27–28.

Blueberry Festival in 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. July 27.

Muskie Days in 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  Saturday. July 27–28.

Cardboard Cup Regatta in Crystal Lake, IL Watch or enter the cardboard-boat races on Main Beach, where prizes are awarded in many categories. July 28.

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 28–29.

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 28–29.

Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport, IA There are chainsaw artists and alligator shows as well as a carnival and grandstand acts that include national country musicians. July 31–Aug. 5.

Scottville Clown Band.

© Beth Gauper

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

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 27–Aug. 4.

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 27–Aug. 5.

Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport, IA There are chainsaw artists and alligator shows as well as a carnival and grandstand acts that include national country musicians. July 31–Aug. 5.

Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, IL Professional musicians, many of them world-famous, offer free classical concerts in Millennium Park's beautiful Pritzker Pavilion. Aug. 1.

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. 2–12.

Fisherman's Picnic in 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. Aug. 2–5.

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. 2–4.

WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, MN Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean are among the headliners at this big country festival in west-central Minnesota. Aug. 2–4.

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. 2–5.

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. 2–5.

Mile of Music in Appleton, WI More than 180 singer-songwriters perform at more than 40 venues along College Avenue downtown. Aug. 2–5.

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. 3.

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. 3–5.

Brat Days in 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. 3–4.

Buffalo Bill Days in Lanesboro, MN Ride the Root River State Trail, then enjoy music, kids' games, sports tournaments, fireworks and a parade on Sunday. Aug. 3–5.

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. 3–5.

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. 3–5.

Tall Timber Days in Grand Rapids, MN In this longtime logging town, there will be lumberjack shows, chainsaw carving, music and a parade Sunday. Aug. 3–5.

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. 4–5.

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. 5–18.

Belly dancers at Bastille Days.

© Beth Gauper

Belly dancers perform at Bastille Days in Milwaukee.

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. 2–12.

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. 5–18.

Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, IL Professional musicians, many of them world-famous, offer free classical concerts in Millennium Park's beautiful Pritzker Pavilion. Aug. 8.

Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, IA See a diaper derby, outhouse races and mullet contest, and don't miss the butter sculptures. Aug. 9–19.

Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival in Richmond, MN This 39th annual family-friendly festival includes music on five stages and workshops at El Rancho Mañana Campground, 20 miles west of St. Cloud. Aug. 9–12.

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. Score so far: Illinois 20, Iowa 11. Aug. 9–11.

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. 9–12.

Sweet Corn Festival in 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. 9–12.

Ashley for the Arts music festival in Arcadia, WI This nonprofit festival is in the southwest Wisconsin bluffs, half an hour north of Winona, Minn. Headliners include Chris Janson and Andy Grammer. 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. 9–11.

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. 10–12.

Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth, MN The 30th annual music fest on the Lake Superior harbor showcases national and regional acts on three stages. Aug. 10–12.

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. 10–12.

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. 10–11.

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. 10–12.

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. 10–12.

Ship & Shore Festival in 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. 10–12.

Tall Tales Music Festival in Burlington, WI This free festival celebrates storytelling through music, with performances by national as well as regional musicians. In addition, workshops are offered for people of all ages. Aug. 10–11.

Shawano Folk Music Festival in Shawano, WI The family-friendly festival in this northwoods town includes dance, crafts, children's activities and instruction on four stages in Mielke Park, plus indoor evening concerts. Aug. 10–12.

Civil War Days in Pipestone, MN In the southwest corner of Minnesota, this festival includes quilting bees, etiquette and ballroom dance lessons, camp tours, children's games, band concerts and a grand ball. Battle re-enactments are held both days. Aug. 11–12.

Pure Water Days in Chippewa Falls, WI There's a big parade downtown, followed by Riverfest in Allen Park. Aug. 11.

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, plus music, a car show and a hot-air balloon rally. Aug. 11.

Fire eaters perform in a parade.

© Beth Gauper

In Minneapolis, fire eaters perform in the Aquatennial Torchlight 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. 5–18.

Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, IA See a diaper derby, outhouse races and mullet contest, and don't miss the butter sculptures. Aug. 9–19.

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. 15–19.

Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, IL Professional musicians, many of them world-famous, offer free classical concerts in Millennium Park's beautiful Pritzker Pavilion. Aug. 15.

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. 16–19.

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. 16–19.

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. 17–19.

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. 17–18.

Art & Big Fork Festival in Evanston, IL This downtown festival features live music and local food, beer, wine and fine art. Aug. 17–19.

Air & Water Show in Chicago, IL The 60th annual free show features aerobatics, extreme flying and parachuting off North Avenue Beach. Aug. 18–19.

HarborPark Jazz & Blues Festival in Kenosha, WI This free festival is in the lakefront Celebration Place. Aug. 18.

Soar on the Shore in Algoma, WI Learn about kite-flying from professionals on Lake Michigan's Crescent Beach. Aug. 18.

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. 18–19.

Hayward's Musky Fest float.

© Beth Gauper

Hayward's Musky Fest celebrates the feisty fish.

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. 23–Sept. 3.

Lakes Bluegrass Festival in Pine River, MN This family-friendly festival at the Cass County Fairgrounds, just off the Paul Bunyan State Trail, features more than 40 bluegrass shows and free workshops. Aug. 23–26.

Artstreet in Green Bay, WI Artists, performers and craft and food stands fill streets downtown near the Fox River. Aug. 24–26.

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. 24–25.

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. 24–26.

Mexican Fiesta in 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. 24–26.

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. 24–25.

Great River Folk Festival in La Crosse, WI This festival in Riverside Park includes children's activities, a traditional arts and crafts fair and music performances and workshops. Aug. 24–26.

Crossroads Blues Festival in Rockford, IL Enjoy a day of blues in Lyran Park, with food from local restaurants. Aug. 25.

Vinton Boomtown in Vinton, IA Fireworks provided by the Iowa Pyrotechnic Association are the centerpiece for this fest, which includes arts & crafts, food and kids' activities. Aug. 25.

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. 23–Sept. 3.

Chicago Jazz Festival in Chicago, IL This free festival features music at the Chicago Cultural Center and  Millennium Park. Aug. 30–Sept. 2.

Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw in 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. Aug. 31–Sept. 1.

Boundary Waters Blues Festival in Ely, MN Ten bands play Friday and Saturday on Fall Lake, five miles east of Ely. There's camping on-site. Aug. 31–Sept. 1.

Marquette Area Blues Fest in Marquette, MI Enjoy a weekend of music in Mattson Lower Harbor Park on Lake Superior. Aug. 31–Sept. 2.

Wilhelm Tell Festival in 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. Aug. 31–Sept. 2.

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. Aug. 31–Sept. 2.

Hot Air Balloon Festival in Harvard, IL This festival in Milky Way Park features tethered balloon rides, night glows, yard and carnival games and music on two stages.  Aug. 31–Sept. 2.

Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in 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.   Aug. 31–Sept. 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. 1–2.

Kites Over Lake Michigan in 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. Sept. 1–2.

Fox Jazz Festival in Menasha, WI This free Fox Cities jazz festival is in Jefferson Park, on the shores of Lake Winnebago. Sept. 1–2.

Los Dells in Mauston, WI This Latin-music festival features on-site tent camping and shuttles from hotels in the Wisconsin Dells. Sept. 1–2.

Frankfort Fall Festival in Frankfort, IL The festival in this southern suburb of Chicago features more than 300 artisans, music, a carnival and a parade at 1 p.m. Sunday. Sept. 1–3.

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. 3.

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



Last updated on May 14, 2018