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 2019.

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 77th birthday with a Blood on the Tracks train ride, a singer-songwriter contest, a bus tour, films, music and a trivia contest.       May 19–26.

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 23–27.

Tree Town Music Festival in Forest City, IA The country-music festival in this town near Clear Lake features Jake Owens, Dierks Bentley and Toby Keith. There's camping (and glamping) onsite. May 23–26.

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 24–27.

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. Headliners include Smash Mouth. Admission is free. Outside the Alliant Energy Center. May 24–26.

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 24–26.

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 24–25.

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 24–27.

River Valley Festival in Boone, IA In this town north of Des Moines, there will be walking tours of the Iowa Arboretum, guided hikes, a bags tourney, an art fair with music, a garage-art car show and a family ride on the High Trestle Trail. On Saturday, Grand Funk Railroad and the Blue Oyster Cult perform. May 24–27.

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 25–27.

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 25–26.

BobFest in Spring Green, WI The Spring Green General Store in this artistic town on the Wisconsin River celebrates Bob Dylan's 78th birthday with free outdoor music. May 26.

Soundset in St. Paul, MN This hiphop festival is at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. May 26.

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.

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.   May 31–June 2.

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. May 31–June 1.

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. May 31–June 9.

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. May 31–June 2.

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. May 31–June 2.

Edina Art Fair in Edina, MN The juried show in this posh southern Minneapolis suburb draws 375 exhibitors and 60,000 people. May 31–June 2.

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. May 31–June 2.

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. May 31–June 2.

Gospel Festival in Chicago, IL This free music festival is in Millennium Park and across the street at the Cultural Center. May 31–June 1.

Sun Drop Dayz in Shawano, WI This northwoods town offers music, kids' activities, a car show, flea market, magic show and craft fair, plus samples of the locally made Sun Drops soda. May 31–June 1.

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 1.

Milwaukee Highland Games in Wauwatosa, WI Listen to bagpipe bands, eat Scottish food and watch sheepdogs, Highland dancers and athletes. June 1.

Wisconsin state-parks open house in All state parks, WI Visit a Wisconsin state park without paying the daily vehicle fee, $8-$10 for residents and $11-$13 for non-residents. June 1–2.

Outta Sight Kite Flight in Kenosha, WI Fly kites along Lake Michigan in Kennedy Park. June 1–2.

Blessing of the Fleet Festival in Baileys Harbor, WI Tour fishing boats, meet local fishing legends and watch a boat parade. There will also be a Scottish-terrier rally, music and arts and crafts. June 1.

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 2.

Ride the Drive in Madison, WI Ride, walk or skate a car-free, four-mile route along Lake Monona to stops in three parks, with activities, food and music. June 2.

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 2.

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 2.

Fourth of July on Madeline Island.

© Beth Gauper

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

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. May 31–June 9.

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 6–9.

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.    June 6–9.

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 7–9.

Blues Festival in Chicago, IL The largest of Chicago's free music festivals draws 750,000 people to Millennium Park.  June 7–9.

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 7–16.

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 7–8.

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 7–9.

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 7–9.

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. This year, it's hosting the national championships. June 7–9.

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 7–9.

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 8–9.

Wine & Food Festival in Leland, MI Sample local wines and listen to music at this festival on the Leelanau Peninsula. June 8.

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 8–9.

PorchFest in Mount Morris, IL During this afternoon music festival, 19 bands perform for 45 minutes each on porches around town. There will be food vendors, too. June 8.

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 7–16.

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 12–16.

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. June 12.

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 12–16.

Ice Cream Days in Le Mars, IA The festival in this northwest Iowa town, home of Blue Bunny ice cream, includes an art fair, old-fashioned children's games, architectural tours, a polo match, airplane and helicopter stunts and a parade at 9 a.m. Saturday. And the ice cream is free. June 12–16.

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 13–16.

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 13–16.

Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire, WI This family-friendly acoustic festival is near Eau Claire. There's camping onsite. June 13–15.

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 13–16.

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, duck races, a car show and parade Sunday. June 13–16.

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 14–16.

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 14–15.

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 14–16.

Northern Spark in Minneapolis, MN The nighttime arts festival is on two nights, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., with venues in St. Paul and Minneapolis. The theme is "We Are Here: Resilience, Renewal and Regeneration." June 14–15.

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 14–16.

Winstock Country Festival in Winsted, MN Jason Aldean and Old Dominion headline this festival just west of Minneapolis. June 14–15.

Harborfest in South Haven, MI There will be a wooden boat show, dragon-boat racing, kids' activities, music and a craft fair. June 14–15.

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 14–15.

Fyr Bal Festival in Ephraim, WI It's the 55th 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 15.

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 15–16.

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 18–23.

Scottville Clown Band.

© Beth Gauper

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

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 18–23.

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 19.

Twin Cities Jazz Festival in St. Paul, MN Listen to jazz in Mears Park, in St. Paul's Lowertown. June 20–22.

Great Galena Balloon Race in Galena, IL Eagle Ridge Resort hosts two balloon races, two night glows and rides for the public.  June 21–23.

Musky Fest in Hayward, WI There will be a carnival, crafts, watermelon- and ice cream-eating contests and lots of festivities downtown, capped by the 1 p.m. Sunday parade. June 21–23.

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 21–23.

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 21–22.

America's River Festival in Dubuque, IA This riverside music festival includes a Clint Black concert, motocross show, movie tent and children's games and rides.  June 21–22.

Northwoods Blues Festival in Chippewa Falls, WI This year, the blues festival is at Chippewa Riverfront Park.  June 21–22.

Strawberry Festival in Cedarburg, WI During this popular event in an old mill town north of Milwaukee, there's music, kids' games, a rubber-duck race, shortcake-eating and bubblegum-blowing contests and strawberries in everything — brats, wine, slush.  June 22–23.

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 22.

Afton Strawberry Festival in Afton, MN This village on the St. Croix River offers an art fair, music, games, raptor demos and a strawberry shortcake-eating contest.   June 22–23.

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 22–23.

An entertainer at the Phelps Mill Festival.

© Beth Gauper

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

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 26–30.

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. June 26.

Country Fest in Cadott, WI This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features Sugarland, Luke Bryan and Little Big Town. June 27–29.

Country USA in Oshkosh, WI Alabama, Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley are among the headliners of this year's big festival at Ford Festival Park. June 27–29.

Lakes Jam in Brainerd, MN Justin Moore, Gary Allan and 3 Doors Down are among the headliners at this music-and-camping festival at Brainerd International Raceway. June 27–29.

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 28–30.

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 28–30.

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 28–30.

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 28.

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 29–July 6.

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 29.

International Bridge Walk in Sault Ste. Marie, MI Walk across the St. Mary's River to Canada at 9:30 a.m. or ride a bike there and back between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Walkers can take a bus back from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for $5 and must bring a passport. Otherwise, the event is free. June 29.

Canada Day in Thunder Bay, ON On Canada Day at Fort William Historical Park, the continent's largest reconstructed fur post, admission is free to the first 500 visitors. There's also free corn on the cob, an inflatable obstacle course, axe-throwing, paintball, canoe rides, dance performances and bannock-making, log-sawing and lacrosse contests. July 1.

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 29–July 6.

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 2–7.

Petunia Festival in Dixon, IL This festival in the Hometown of Ronald Reagan features music, a carnival, fireworks and a parade. July 3–7.

Riverfest in La Crosse, WI This riverfront festival includes music, magicians, a hypnotist, a pole-vaulting competition, kids' races, a water-ski show and fireworks by the La Crosse Skyrockers. July 3–6.

Ribfest in Naperville, IL Headliners include Billy Idol and Brantley Gilbert in Knoch Park, where there's also magic shows, kids' games, food and fireworks on the last evening. July 3–6.

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. July 4–6.

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 4–7.

Fire Over the Fox in Green Bay, WI Green Bay hosts the largest fireworks show north of Milwaukee, plus a water-ski show, carnival rides and music and family entertainment on five stages plus the Neville Public Museum. It's in Leicht Memorial Park. 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 across from downtown.   July 4.

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 4–6.

Riverfront Rendezvous in Stevens Point, WI There's a noon parade on the Fourth plus lumberjack and magic shows, bands and, on Saturday, kids' games, a lighted boat parade and fireworks. July 4–6.

Catfish River Music Festival in Stoughton, WI More than 20 bands perform in Rotary Park during this free festival, which includes artisans, food, beer, wine and fireworks on the Fourth and on Sunday. July 4–7.

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.''  July 5–6.

Blues Festival in Thunder Bay, ON This festival has a scenic location in Marina Park, on the Lake Superior waterfront. July 5–7.

Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, IA In LeClaire Park on the river, blues musicians celebrate the music that traveled up the Mississippi.  July 5–6.

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. July 5–6.

Bigfoot Days in Remer, MN This town in Chippewa National Forest, between Walker and Grand Rapids, calls itself the Home of Bigfoot. There will be a Bigfoot Olympics, a Bigfoot-calling contest, Bigfoot storytelling, a scavenger hunt and a petting zoo. July 5–6.

Fire eaters perform in a parade.

© Beth Gauper

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

Second weekend in July

Taste of Chicago in Chicago, IL The big free festival in Grant Park offers lots of food and music. July 10–14.

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 10–13.

Winnipeg Folk Festival in Winnipeg, MB This easy-going, family-friendly festival features more than 70 performers from eight countries, 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 11–14.

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 11–14.

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 11–14.

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 11–13.

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 11–14.

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 11–13.

Hodag Country Festival in Rhinelander, WI This year, performers at this big fest include Lady Antebellum and Neal McCoy. There's a band contest, too. July 11–14.

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 11–14.

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 11–21.

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.''  July 12–13.

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 12–14.

Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN This big festival celebrates its 84th 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 12–21.

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 12–13.

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 12–14.

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 12–14.

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 12–14.

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 12–14.

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 12–13.

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 12–14.

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 12–14.

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 12–13.

Agate Days in Moose Lake, MN See the beautiful stones on display, then dig for them at 3 p.m. Saturday during the Agate Stampede, when a load of rocks seeded with 400 pounds agates, $400 in quarters and $100 in 50-cent pieces is dumped downtown. There's also music and an art fair. July 13–14.

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 13–14.

Driftless Music Festival in Viroqua, WI This free folk and roots festival is in Viroqua's Eckhart Park. July 13.

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 Cornbread Harris, Erik Koskinen and Kent Burnside and the New Generation. July 13.

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 14.

St. Croix RiverFest in Hudson, WI This town on the St. Croix River celebrates with a concert, hike, cruise, kids' fishing derby, Native American celebration and Civil War encampment and ice cream social at the Octagon House. July 16–21.

America's River Festival in Dubuque.

© America's River Fest

The America's River Festival in Dubuque is one of many outdoor music festivals.

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 11–21.

Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN This big festival celebrates its 84th 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 12–21.

St. Croix RiverFest in Hudson, WI This town on the St. Croix River celebrates with a concert, hike, cruise, kids' fishing derby, Native American celebration and Civil War encampment and ice cream social at the Octagon House. July 16–21.

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 17–21.

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 17–20.

Rock Fest in Cadott, WI This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features top national musicians. July 18–20.

Rock USA in Oshkosh, WI This big rock festival is held in Ford Festival Park. July 18–20.

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.

Country Jam in Eau Claire, WI Toby Keith, Jake Owen and Keith Urban are  among the headliners of this fest. There's camping on-site. July 18–20.

Tall Ship Celebration in Bay City, MI Ten schooners, barques and brigs will arrive Thursday, part of the Tall Ships Challenge. From Friday to Sunday, a festival includes on-board tours, day sail excursions, an art fair and many children's activities. In the evenings, maritime musicians play at Ballads and Brews. The ships will leave Monday morning. They include the Picton Castle, the Pride of Baltimore II, the U.S. Brig Niagara, the St. Lawrence II, the Bluenose II and the 15th-century replica Santa Maria from Spain. July 18–21.

Bavarian Blast in New Ulm, MN In addition to German music, food and beer, this festival at the Brown County Fair Grounds features stein-holding, barrel-rolling and sauerkraut-eating contests, plus a Sunday parade. July 19–21.

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.''  July 19–20.

Highland Fest in St. Paul, MN This street fair in St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood includes an arts fair, music, carnival rides, wiener-dog races and an all-Ford car and truck show. July 19–21.

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 19–21.

Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, IL This indie and alt-rock festival is in Union Park. Headliners include Mavis Staples, Low and the Isley Brothers. July 19–21.

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 19–20.

La Crosse Storytelling Festival in La Crosse, WI Listen to local, regional and national storytellers spin tales at the Pump House. There will also be music and arts and crafts. July 19–20.

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 19–21.

Lowertown Blues & Funk Festival in St. Paul, MN This free, all-ages festival is in Mears Park. July 19–20.

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 19–21.

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, helicopter rides and a parade at 1 p.m. Sunday.  July 19–21.

Wannigan Days in St. Croix Falls, WI St. Croix Falls and its cross-river neighbor, Taylors Falls, pay tribute to lumberjacks and river pigs with rock and country music, an arts and crafts fair, a Saturday parade and fireworks. July 19–21.

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 19–21.

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 20.

Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival in Duluth, MN Listen to island music on the shore of Lake Superior. July 20.

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 20–27.

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 20.

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 20.

Civil War Encampment and Battle in Menomonee Falls, WI This event at Old Falls Village features Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, storytelling and a soldier encampment with medical and cooking demonstration. General Grant narrates the Battle of Cedar Run, 2 p.m. both days. July 20–21.

Woodstock Folk Festival in Woodstock, IL Listen to music on the square in this town just over the Wisconsin border from Lake Geneva. 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 22–28.

Belly dancers at Bastille Days.

© Beth Gauper

Belly dancers perform at Bastille Days in Milwaukee.

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 20–27.

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 22–28.

Aquatennial in Minneapolis, MN The City of Lakes holds a Torchlight Parade, water-ski shows and Saturday fireworks. July 24–27.

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 24.

Nordic Fest in Decorah, IA It's the 53rd year of this friendly, authentic and very large festival of Scandinavian culture. It features a Viking encampment, kids' games, artisan demonstrations, lutefisk-eating and Nordic rock-throwing contests and a big parade at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. July 25–27.

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 25–28.

Tall Ships Green Bay in Green Bay, WI Nine schooners and brigs will arrive at Leicht Memorial Park on Thursday, part of the Tall Ships Challenge. From Friday to Sunday, a festival includes on-board tours, day sail excursions, maritime entertainment, kids' activities, music, world's largest rubber duck and, on Friday, fireworks. Tickets go on sail March 15. The ships will leave Monday morning. They include the Picton Castle, the Pride of Baltimore II, the U.S. Brig Niagara and the 15th-century replica Santa Maria from Spain.   July 25–28.

Waterama in Glenwood, MN This festival on the shores of Lake Minnewaska is famous for its lighted pontoon parade on Saturday, followed by fireworks. On Sunday, there's a parade on land, followed by a water-ski show. 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 26–28.

National Balloon Classic in Indianola, IA This giant hot-air balloon festival includes daily flights, rides for the public, music, night glows and closing fireworks. July 26–Aug. 3.

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 26–28.

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 26–28.

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 26–Aug. 4.

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 26–27.

Riverboat Days in Wabasha, MN There's a pedal tractor pull, duck derby, firemen's water fight and parade. July 26–27.

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 26.

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 26–27.

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 and, on the water, the Badgerland Ski Team. July 27–28.

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 27.

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 27.

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 27–28.

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 27–28.

Midwest Fire Fest in Cambridge, WI This pottery town east of Madison celebrates the arts fueled by fire, including clay, glass and metal. It includes fire dancing, music from seven bands, demonstrations and food, including wood-fired pizza. Fest-goers can design their own tiles to be created during a hot-iron pour Saturday. July 27–28.

Tall Ships Salute in Sturgeon Bay, WI Nine ships will gather off Sherwood Point between 4 and 5 p.m., then enter the harbor as a fleet and dock overnight.  The ships will come from Green Bay and in the morning will sail to Algoma, from which they will race to Kenosha. July 29–30.

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. Headliners include Brooks & Dunn, Jake Owen, Nickelback and Brad Paisley. July 30–Aug. 4.

Hayward's Musky Fest float.

© Beth Gauper

Hayward's Musky Fest celebrates the feisty fish.

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 and closing fireworks. July 26–Aug. 3.

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 26–Aug. 4.

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. Headliners include Brooks & Dunn, Jake Owen, Nickelback and Brad Paisley. July 30–Aug. 4.

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. July 31–Aug. 4.

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 31.

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. Aug. 1–3.

Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, WI The fair in this Milwaukee suburb features big-name musicians, a sea-lion show, a daily parade and lots of contests, including hog-calling, cookie-stacking and cream puff-eating. Aug. 1–11.

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. 1–3.

WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, MN Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban and Brooks & Dunn are among the headliners at this big country festival in west-central Minnesota. Aug. 1–3.

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. 1–4.

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. 1–4.

Mile of Music in Appleton, WI More than 180 singer-songwriters perform at more than 40 venues along College Avenue downtown. Aug. 1–4.

Tall Ships Kenosha in Kenosha, WI Seven schooners, barques and brigs will arrive Thursday as part of the Tall Ships Challenge and gather outside the harbor for a Parade of Sail, led by Kenosha's own Red Witch. From Friday to Sunday, a festival includes on-board tours, day sail excursions, maritime entertainment, kids' activities and music. The ships will leave Monday morning. They include the Picton Castle, the Pride of Baltimore II, the U.S. Brig Niagara and Bluenose II. Aug. 1–4.

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. 2.

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. The parade is at 1 p.m. Sunday. Aug. 2–4.

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. 2–3.

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. 2–4.

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. 2–4.

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. 2–4.

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. 2–4.

Soul & Blues Festival in Iowa City, IA Summer of the Arts adds this new festival to its offerings. Aug. 2–3.

Powderhorn Art Fair in Minneapolis, MN This juried art festival in Powderhorn Park, in south Minneapolis, attracts more than 200 artists and is not far from the big Uptown Art Fair, on the same weekend. Aug. 3–4.

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. 4–17.

Fans listen to music at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

© Beth Gauper

Fans listen to music at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Second weekend in August

Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, WI The fair in this Milwaukee suburb features big-name musicians, a sea-lion show, a daily parade and lots of contests, including hog-calling, cookie-stacking and cream puff-eating. Aug. 1–11.

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. 4–17.

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. Aug. 7.

Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, IA See a diaper derby, outhouse races and mullet contest, and don't miss the butter sculptures. Aug. 8–18.

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. Headliners include Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. Aug. 8–11.

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 21, Iowa 11. Aug. 8–10.

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. 8–11.

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. 8–11.

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 Billy Ray Cyrus, Mat Kearney, 3 Doors Down and Lady Antebellum. Tickets for all three days are $15. In addition to music, there will be a hot-air balloon launch, circus acts, car show, arts, children's activities and Saturday fireworks. Aug. 8–10.

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. 9–11.

Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth, MN The 31st annual music fest on the Lake Superior harbor showcases national and regional acts on three stages. Aug. 9–11.

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. 9–11.

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. 9–10.

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. 9–11.

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. 9–11.

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. 9–11.

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. 9–10.

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. 9–10.

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. 9–11.

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. 10.

Pure Water Days in Chippewa Falls, WI There's a big parade downtown, followed by Riverfest in Allen Park. Aug. 10.

IndiaFest in St. Paul, MN On the State Capitol grounds, watch Bollywood dance and a parade of cultures, eat East Indian food, get your hands painted with henna and learn the principles of cricket and yoga. Aug. 10.

Festival of Sail in Duluth, MN This port city is holding its own tall-ship festival, apart from the non-profit Tall Ships Challenge being held on the other Great Lakes, with entertainment, tours and day sails. Featured ships include the U.S. Brig Niagara from Erie, Pa., the Appledore V from Bay City, Mich., and the Denis Sullivan from Milwaukee. The Parade of Sail will be Sunday morning, and ships will be open for on-board tours after that. Aug. 11–13.

A kids' ride at the Minnesota State Fair.

© Beth Gauper

The Minnesota State Fair includes rides on the Kidway.

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. 4–17.

Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, IA See a diaper derby, outhouse races and mullet contest, and don't miss the butter sculptures. Aug. 8–18.

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. 14–18.

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. 14.

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. 15–18.

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, fireworks Saturday and a parade on Sunday. Aug. 15–18.

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. 16–18.

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. 16–17.

Art & Big Fork Festival in Evanston, IL This downtown festival features live music and local food, beer, wine and fine art. Aug. 16–18.

Blues, Brews & BBQ in McHenry, IL Listen to the blues and eat barbecued foods in Petersen Park on McCollum Lake. Aug. 16–18.

Festival on the Bay in Petoskey, MI In this Lake Michigan town, there will be kayak and canoe rides, a petting zoo, art fair, live music, cardboard-boat race, cornhole tournament and firefighter water-ball competition. Aug. 16–18.

Air & Water Show in Chicago, IL The 60th annual free show features aerobatics, extreme flying and parachuting off North Avenue Beach. Aug. 17–18.

HarborPark Jazz & Blues Festival in Kenosha, WI This free festival is in the lakefront Celebration Place. Aug. 17.

Soar on the Shore in Algoma, WI Learn about kite-flying from professionals on Lake Michigan's Crescent Beach. Aug. 17.

PastyFest in Calumet, MI The humble miner's lunch — meat and rutabagas in a pocket of pie crust — has inspired this Keweenaw Peninsula festival, which includes such events as a PastyWalk, PastyPoetry contest and, of course, a PastyCook-Off. Toivo the walking and talking pasty will appear, and there will be games, such as a PastyPull, Rutabaga Shotput, Onion Pass and Egg Toss. The PastyParade is at 2 p.m. Aug. 17.

A steamboat float in Winona's Steamboat Days parade.

© Beth Gauper

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

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. 21–25.

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. 22–Sept. 2.

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. 23–24.

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. 23–24.

Artstreet in Green Bay, WI Artists, performers and craft and food stands fill streets downtown near the Fox River. Aug. 23–25.

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. 23–25.

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. 23–25.

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. 23–25.

Chicago Jazz Festival in Chicago, IL This free festival features music at the Chicago Cultural Center and  Millennium Park. Aug. 23–Sept. 1.

Crossroads Blues Festival in Rockford, IL Enjoy a day of blues in Lyran Park, with food from local restaurants. Aug. 24.

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. 24.

Carrying cannoli at Festa Italiana.

© Festa Italiana

In Milwaukee, Festa Italiana celebrates the traditions of Italy.

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. 22–Sept. 2.

Chicago Jazz Festival in Chicago, IL This free festival features music at the Chicago Cultural Center and  Millennium Park. Aug. 23–Sept. 1.

Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mount Pleasant, IA This gathering of steam engines and antique cars, trucks and tractors also features a horse pull, concerts, square dancing and a parade. Aug. 29–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. 30–31.

Marquette Area Blues Fest in Marquette, MI Enjoy a weekend of music in Mattson Lower Harbor Park on Lake Superior. Aug. 30–Sept. 1.

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. 30–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. 30–Sept. 1.

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. 30–Sept. 1.

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. 30–Sept. 2.

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.   Aug. 31–Sept. 1.

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. Aug. 31–Sept. 1.

Fox Jazz Festival in Menasha, WI This free Fox Cities jazz festival is in Jefferson Park, on the shores of Lake Winnebago. Aug. 31–Sept. 1.

Los Dells in Mauston, WI This Latin-music festival features on-site tent camping and shuttles from hotels in the Wisconsin Dells. Aug. 31–Sept. 1.

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. Aug. 31–Sept. 2.

Marina Fest in Sister Bay, WI In this Door County village, there will be a vintage boat show, craft fair, cornhole tournament, dinghy poker run, carnival, music and Saturday fireworks. Aug. 31–Sept. 2.

Team of Dreams in Dyersville, IA At the "Field of Dreams'' movie site, Ghost Players emerge from the corn to entertain and play in a celebrity softball game. Afterward, the movie is shown in the outfield where it was filmed. Sept. 1.

Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival in Geneva, IL Musicians and storytellers perform on eight stages at this festival in Island Park on the Fox River. Sept. 1–2.

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. 2.

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



Last updated on July 1, 2019