MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Great summer festivals

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

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.''

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

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 21–28.

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 25–29.

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.

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 26–27.

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 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.

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 27.

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.

Soundset in St. Paul, MN Travis Scott, Atmosphere and Lauryn Hill are among the headliners at this hiphop festival at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. May 28.

First weekend in June

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.

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.

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 2–11.

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 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.

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 2–4.

Gospel Festival in Chicago, IL This free music festival is in Millennium Park and across the street at the Cultural Center. June 2–3.

Festa Italia in Fitchburg, WI The heritage festival at McKee Farm Park in this Madison suburb features such things as folk dancing, a puppet show, a pasta-eating contest and vintage baseball as well as bocce ball. 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.

Wisconsin state-parks open house in All state parks, WI Visit a state park without paying the daily vehicle fee, $8 for residents and $11 for non-residents. June 3–4.

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.

Rock River Trail Grand Opening in Beloit, WI Celebrate the opening of the 320-mile Rock River Trail with a bike ride, flotilla paddle, fur-trade reenactment, river walk and kayak-camping seminar. The route, from headwaters above Horicon Marsh to the Mississippi River at Rock Island, includes a water trail, road route, hiking trail, historic sites, an art route and a chocolate trail. June 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 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

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 2–11.

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.

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 8–11.

America's River Festival in Dubuque, IA This riverside music festival includes a motocross show, movie tent and children's games and rides. Headliners include the Guess Who, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Styx. June 8–10.

Wizard of Oz Festival in Grand Rapids, MN Judy Garland's hometown will offer such events as a trivia game, a petting zoo, games, carriage rides, talks and a free showing of the famous movie under the stars. June 8–10.

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

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 8–11.

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 Millennium Park. Headliners include William Bell, Gary Clark Jr. and Billy Branch & The Son of the Blues. 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.

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.

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.

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

Northwoods Bluegrass Festival in Ladysmith, WI Six bluegrass bands play at this festival at the Washburn County Fairgrounds. On-site camping is available. June 9–10.

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. June 9–11.

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

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 10–11. Wells Street website

Spring Iowa Barn Tour in Northeast, IA This year's tour of historic barns is in Clinton and Jackson counties, in eastern Iowa along the Mississippi. The tour includes a Civil War barn, an octagonal barn and a barn that became known as the Lone Ranger barn. There's also a picnic on Saturday. June 10–11.

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.

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 13–17.

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.

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 13–17.

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 14–18.

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 at 6:30 p.m. Friday. June 14–18.

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 15–18.

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 15–18.

Old Canal Days in 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. June 15–18.

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.

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 at 1 p.m. Sunday. June 15–18.

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.

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 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.

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 16–17.

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.

Harborfest in South Haven, MI There will be a wooden boat show, dragon-boat racing, kids' activities, music and a craft fair. June 16–18.

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 16–17.

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.

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.

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 17–18.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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 20–24.

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

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.

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.

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 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.

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 23–25.

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 23–24.

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.

Shake the Lake in Madison, WI This pre-Fourth festival on the shores of Lake Monona includes live bands, a human cannonball, a roller-derby exhibition, kids' activities and fireworks. June 24.

A tugboat in the Soo Locks.

© Beth Gauper

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

Fourth of July weekend

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 27–30.

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.

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 30–July 2.

Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, IA In LeClaire Park on the river, blues musicians celebrate the music that traveled up the Mississippi. June 30–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 30–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.

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.

Ribfest in Naperville, IL Headliners include Toby Keith in Knoch Park, where there's also magic shows, kids' games, food and fireworks on the last evening. June 30–July 3.

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

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. 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.

Red White and Boom in 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.   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.

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 4–8.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 7–9.

Blues Festival in Thunder Bay, ON This festival has a scenic location in Marina Park, on the Lake Superior waterfront. July 7–9.

Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN This big festival celebrates its 82nd 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 7–16.

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 7–8.

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 7–9.

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 7–9.

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 7–9.

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 7–9.

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. Brandi Carlile and Gavin DeGraw are among the headliners. July 7–8.

Hambone Music Festival in Rochester, MN This family-friendly roots-music festival on the grounds of the Olmsted County History Center also features an Artists Village and crafts for kids on Saturday. There's some primitive camping onsite. July 7–8.

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 8–9.

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.

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

Interpreters at Grand Portage.

© Torsten Muller

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

Third weekend in July

Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN This big festival celebrates its 82nd 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 7–16.

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 11–15.

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 12–16.

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 at 7 p.m. Saturday. July 12–15.

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.

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.

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.

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 13–23.

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 13–16.

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 14–16.

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.

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 14–16.

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.

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 14–15.

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

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

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.

Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival in Duluth, MN Hear island music on Lake Superior, from Bayfront Festival Park. July 15.

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. Navy Blue Angels. 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.

World Arts & Music Festival in Evanston, IL Dawes Park on Lake Michigan turns into a global village for this celebration of music, dance, arts and food. July 15–16.

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.

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 15.

Roots, Rock & Deep Blues Festival in Minneapolis, MN This music and arts festival in the Longfellow neighborhood, near Harriet Brewery and Midtown light-rail station, features five stages and 20 bands, including Nicholas David, Black Eyed Snakes and Erik Koskinen. July 15.

Woodstock Folk Festival in Woodstock, IL Listen to music on the square in this town just over the Wisconsin border from Lake Geneva. July 16.

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 16.

Twin Cities Beach Blast in Minneapolis, MN The milk-carton boat races and sand-castle contest returns to Lake Calhoun's Thomas Beach. There's a new paddleboard category, and a showdown between milk-carton boats, a dragon boat and a rowing shell. July 16.

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.

Fourth 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 13–23.

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.

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 18–22.

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.

St. Croix RiverFest in 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 an and ice-cream social at the Octagon House. July 20–23.

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.

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.

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

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 21–23.

Lumberjack Days in 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.  July 21–23.

ArtBike + ArtCar Parade in 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. July 22.

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 steamboat float in Winona's Steamboat Days parade.

© Beth Gauper

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

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.

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 25–29.

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.

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 27–29.

Burning Cow Music Festival in Sturgeon Bay, WI This third annual fest features emerging and established rock, bluegrass and alt country bands. There's on-site camping. July 27–29.

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.

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 28–30.

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.

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.

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.

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 28–30.

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.

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.

Riverboat Days in Wabasha, MN There's a pedal tractor pull, duck derby, firemen's water fight and 6 p.m. parade. July 28–29.

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 28.

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 at 6 p.m. Saturday. July 28–29.

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.

Harry Potter Festival in Aurora, IL Mix potions, play quidditch, hunt for horcruxes and make wands, spellbooks and broomsticks in Diagon Alley. Tickets are sold out for this year. July 30.

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. Aug. 1–6.

Fourth of July on Madeline Island.

© Beth Gauper

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

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.

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. Aug. 1–6.

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. 1–5.

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.

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. 3–5.

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. 3–6.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

Square Lake Film & Music Festival in Stillwater, MN This festival near Square Lake County Park, north of Stillwater, alternates short independent films with live music. Festgoers arriving by bicycle get half-price tickets, which sell out in advance. Aug. 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. 6–19.

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. Aug. 6.

Scottville Clown Band.

© Beth Gauper

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

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.

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. 8–12.

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. Aug. 10–12. Event website/Port Byron

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 Three Dog Night, Neal McCoy and Gavin DeGraw. 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. 10–12.

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.

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. 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.

Summer Microbrew & Music Festival in Traverse City, MI This festival at Grand Traverse Commons features music and more than 200 craft beers. 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.

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. 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.

An entertainer at the Phelps Mill Festival.

© Beth Gauper

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

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.

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. 15–19.

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. 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.

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. 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.

Art & Big Fork Festival in Evanston, IL This downtown festival features live music and local food, beer, wine and fine art. Aug. 18–20.

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

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

Fire eaters perform in a parade.

© Beth Gauper

In Minneapolis, fire eaters perform in the Aquatennial Torchlight Parade.

Fourth weekend in August

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. 24–27.

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.

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. 25–26.

Artstreet in Green Bay, WI Artists, performers and craft and food stands fill streets downtown near the Fox River. Aug. 25–27.

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.

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. 25–27.

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. 25–27.

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

Festival in the Pines in 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. 26–27.

Harbor Fest in Marquette, MI This Lake Superior town celebrates with rock music, a classic car and motorcycle show, a luge run and inflatables for kids. Aug. 26–27.

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.

Chicago Jazz Festival in Chicago, IL This free festival features music at the Chicago Cultural Center and  Millennium Park. Aug. 31–Sept. 3.

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. Sept. 1–2.

Marquette Area Blues Fest in Marquette, MI Enjoy a weekend of music in Mattson Lower Harbor Park on Lake Superior. Sept. 1–3.

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. Sept. 1–3.

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.

Hot Air Balloon Festival in Harvard, IL This festival in Milky Way Park features tethered balloon rides, night glows and a battle of the bands. Sept. 1–3.

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.   Sept. 1–4.

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.

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. 2–3.

Fox Jazz Festival in Menasha, WI This free Fox Cities jazz festival is in Jefferson Park, on the shores of Lake Winnebago. 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 July 10, 2017