Great summer festivals

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

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

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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 beer festivals, see Best brew fests.

For more events, see our Events Calendar.

Here are some of the best. In 2021, many tours and programs held indoors require advance reservations, so read schedules in advance.

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 80th birthday with a Blood on the Tracks train ride, a singer-songwriter contest, a bus tour, films, music and a trivia contest.

 

May 22. – May 30.

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 27. – May 31.

River Valley Festival in Boone, IA In this town north of Des Moines, normally there are 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. 

In 2021, some events may be altered.

May 28. – May 30.

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 29. – May 31.

First weekend in June

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.

Jun 3. – Jun 6.

Lilac Festival in Mackinac Island, MI There are concerts, lilac walking tours, a dog and pony show, a family fun area and, on the last day, a big parade.

Jun 4. – Jun 13.

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.

Jun 4. – Jun 6.

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.

Jun 4. – Jun 6.

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.

Jun 4. – Jun 5.

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. 

Jun 5.

Wisconsin state-parks open house in All state parks, WI Visit a Wisconsin state park without paying the daily vehicle fee, $8-$13 for residents and $11-$16 for non-residents.

 

Jun 5. – Jun 6.

Outta Sight Kite Flight in Kenosha, WI See giant show kites and stunt-flying demonstrations along Lake Michigan in Kennedy Park. There will be kite-making workshops and kite-flying lessons and contests, and the first 100 kids will receive free kites.

Jun 5. – Jun 6.

Reggae Fest in Trempealeau, WI The Trempealeau Hotel hosts this easygoing festival on the banks of the Mississippi. 

Tickets are limited.

Jun 5.

Ride the Drive in Madison, WI This year, the car-free routes are spread out between Marlborough, Wingra, Kennedy and Warner parks, with stops for activities, food and music. You can ride, walk or skate.

Jun 6.

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.

Jun 6.

Second weekend in June

Lilac Festival in Mackinac Island, MI There are concerts, lilac walking tours, a dog and pony show, a family fun area and, on the last day, a big parade.

Jun 4. – Jun 13.

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.

Jun 10. – Jun 13.

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.

Jun 10. – Jun 12.

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. 

 

Jun 10. – Jun 13.

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.

Jun 11. – Jun 12.

Spring Lighthouse Festival in Door County, WI The Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay offers tours of the peninsula's 11 lighthouses by foot, boat, trolley, minibus and airplane. Tickets go on sale to the public in March; some tours sell out quickly.

Jun 11. – Jun 13.

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

Jun 11. – Jun 13.

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.

Jun 11. – Jun 13.

Country Thunder Iowa Music Festival in Forest City, IA The country-music festival in this town near Clear Lake features Lynyrd Skynrd, Morgan Wallan and Old Dominion. There's camping (and glamping) onsite.

Jun 11. – Jun 13.

Lower Sioux Wacipi in Morton, MN This Lower Sioux Indian Community wacipi, or powwow, includes dancing, drumming, singing and food. Grand Entries are at 7 p.m. Friday, 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Everyone is welcome.

Jun 11. – Jun 13.

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

Jun 12.

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.

Jun 12.

Free Entrance Day to all Minnesota state parks in All state parks, MN Entrance to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas is free today.

Jun 12.

Old Town Art Fair in Chicago, IL In the Old Town neighborhood, there will be more than 200 juried fine artists, a garden walk, live music and children's activities.

Jun 12. – Jun 13.

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.

Jun 14. – Jun 20.

Third weekend in June

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.

Jun 14. – Jun 20.

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.

Jun 16. – Jun 20.

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.

 

Jun 16. – Jun 20.

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.

Jun 16. – Jun 19.

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.

Jun 17. – Jun 20.

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

Jun 18. – Jun 20.

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.

 

Jun 18. – Jun 19.

Winstock Country Festival in Winsted, MN Luke Combs and Darius Rucker headline this festival just west of Minneapolis.

Jun 18. – Jun 19.

Northwoods Blues Festival in Chippewa Falls, WI The blues festival is at Riverfront Park. 

Jun 18. – Jun 19.

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.

Jun 19.

Stone Arch Bridge Festival in Minneapolis, MN On the banks of the Mississippi, 200 artists show their wares. There will also be music, art for kids and a car show.

This year, the fair is not on the Stone Arch Bridge but on the west side of the river between Portland and North Fourth Avenue.

 

Jun 19. – Jun 20.

Wurst Festival in Amana, IA Besides sausage sampling, there will be music, a dachshund derby, a beer-stein holding contest and hotdog games.

Jun 19.

Swedish Days Festival in Geneva, IL This Fox River town on the western edge of Chicago offers music and a carnival, car show, chocolate craw and Swedish cottage walk. 

Jun 22. – Jun 27.

Fourth weekend in June

Swedish Days Festival in Geneva, IL This Fox River town on the western edge of Chicago offers music and a carnival, car show, chocolate craw and Swedish cottage walk. 

Jun 22. – Jun 27.

Country Fest in Cadott, WI This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features Thomas Rhett, Dierks Bentley and Kane Brown.

Jun 24. – Jun 26.

Lakes Jam in Brainerd, MN Brothers Osborne, Jon Pardi and Ratt are among the headliners at this music-and-camping festival at Brainerd International Raceway.

Jun 24. – Jun 26.

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.

Jun 25. – Jun 27.

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.

Jun 25. – Jun 27.

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.

Jun 25. – Jun 27.

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.

Jun 25. – Jun 27.

Soo Locks Engineers Day in Sault Ste. Marie, MI It's the biggest day of the year for boat nerds at the Soo Locks. 

This year, people will not be allowed to walk across the locks, and Portage Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic, for an arts, crafts and family fun fair.

Jun 25.

Sol Grass Music Festival in Washington Island, WI This bluegrass festival is off the Door Peninsula, and tickets include tent camping.

Jun 25. – Jun 26.

Spring Iowa Barn Tour in Anamosa, IA This tour of historic barns concentrates on barns in the rolling Grant Wood country of eastern Iowa, including the Anamosa State Penitentiary barns.

Jun 26. – Jun 27.

Fourth of July weekend

Riverfest in La Crosse, WI This riverfront festival includes music, magicians, dance, a water-ski show and fireworks by the La Crosse Skyrockers. Headliners include Randy Houser, Troy Cartwright and Chris Kroeze.

 

Jun 30. – Jul 4.

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.

Jul 1. – Jul 4.

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.

Jul 1.

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.

Jul 1. – Jul 4.

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

Jul 2. – Jul 3.

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.

This year, seating is at 25 percent capacity and still is free but must be reserved. Tickets will be available at 10 a.m. Mondays before the event.

Jul 2. – Jul 3.

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.

Jul 2. – Jul 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.

Jul 3. – Jul 10.

Sub Fest in Manitowoc, WI The fest at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, home of the USS Cobia, is combined with Fourth on the Shore this year and features music, a parade and fireworks.

Jul 4.

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.

Jul 4.

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.

Jul 3. – Jul 10.

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.

Jul 7. – Jul 11.

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.

Jul 8. – Jul 10.

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.

Jul 8. – Jul 10.

Hodag Country Festival in Rhinelander, WI This year, performers at this big fest include Neal McCoy, Travis Tritt and Darius Rucker. There's a band contest, too.

Jul 8. – Jul 11.

Riverfest in Monticello, MN This Mississippi River town, known for its trumpeter swans in winter, celebrates summer with a car show, pie-eating contest, Friday fireworks and noon parade on Sunday.

Jul 8. – Jul 11.

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.'' 

Jul 9. – Jul 10.

Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN This big festival celebrates its 85th year with a sand-castle contest, water fights, ship-building (in less than 30 minutes), beer tasting, watermelon feed, bike tour and more. On the last day, there's a big parade at 1 p.m.

Jul 9. – Jul 18.

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.

Jul 9. – Jul 11.

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.

This year, seating is at 25 percent capacity and still is free but must be reserved. Tickets will be available at 10 a.m. Mondays before the event.

Jul 9. – Jul 10.

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.

Jul 9. – Jul 10.

Taste and Glow Balloon Fest in Wausau, WI This first-year festival will feature hot-air balloons and also music, kids' activities, a tractor pull and a flea market.

Jul 9. – Jul 11.

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.

Jul 10. – Jul 11.

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.

Jul 10. – Jul 11.

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.

Jul 10. – Jul 11.

Fiesta Days in McHenry, IL There's a Music Fest, carnival and car and motorcycle show in Petersen Park the first weekend. The second weekend, there's an art and street fair Saturday and a Sunday walk-by parade on Main Street.

Jul 10. – Jul 11.

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.

Jul 10.

Third weekend in July

Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN This big festival celebrates its 85th year with a sand-castle contest, water fights, ship-building (in less than 30 minutes), beer tasting, watermelon feed, bike tour and more. On the last day, there's a big parade at 1 p.m.

Jul 9. – Jul 18.

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.

Jul 14. – Jul 19.

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.

Jul 14. – Jul 18.

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.

Jul 15. – Jul 18.

Rock Fest in Cadott, WI This year's outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features Limp Bizkit, Korn and Disturbed.

Jul 15. – Jul 17.

Country Jam in Eau Claire, WI Morgan Wallen, Chris Young and Jon Pardi are  among the headliners of this fest. There's camping on-site.

Jul 15. – Jul 17.

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.

Jul 15. – Jul 18.

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.'' 

Jul 16. – Jul 17.

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.

Jul 16. – Jul 18.

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

Jul 16. – Jul 17.

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.

Jul 16. – Jul 18.

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.

Jul 16. – Jul 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.

This year, seating is at 25 percent capacity and still is free but must be reserved. Tickets will be available at 10 a.m. Mondays before the event.

Jul 16. – Jul 17.

Rivertown Days in Hastings, MN In this river town south of St. Paul, there will be 25 bands on four stages, plus a carnival, arts & crafts fair and classic-car show.

Jul 16. – Jul 18.

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.

Jul 17.

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.

Jul 17. – Jul 18.

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

Jul 17.

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

Jul 17. – Jul 18.

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.

Jul 17. – Jul 24.

Fiesta Days in McHenry, IL There's a Music Fest, carnival and car and motorcycle show in Petersen Park the first weekend. The second weekend, there's an art and street fair Saturday and a Sunday walk-by parade on Main Street.

Jul 17. – Jul 18.

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, such as hammer throwing, sheaf tossing, caber turning and the stone put.

Jul 17.

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 and pony rides.

Jul 17. – Jul 18.

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.

Jul 17. – Jul 18.

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

Jul 18.

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.

Jul 17. – Jul 24.

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

Jul 21. – Jul 24.

Nordic Fest in Decorah, IA This friendly, authentic and very large festival of Scandinavian culture 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.

Jul 22. – Jul 24.

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.

Jul 22. – Jul 25.

Great Folle Avoine Fur Trade Rendezvous in Danbury, WI At this rendezvous at a rebuilt post on the banks of the Yellow River, visit with costumed traders and voyageurs from the fur-trade era and see demonstrations of tomahawk-throwing, black-powder shooting, candlemaking and other skills. There will also be a candy cannon, bead pile and ladies' and kids' games. 

The village occupies the site of an Ojibwe village where the North West and XY Company posts operated between 1802 and 1804.

Jul 22. – Jul 25.

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.

Jul 23. – Jul 25.

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.

 

Jul 23. – Jul 25.

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.'' 

Jul 23. – Jul 24.

Minnesota Horse Expo in St. Paul, MN There's a parade of breeds daily at noon, free horse, pony and carriage rides and a rodeo Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon. At the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Jul 23. – Jul 25.

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.

Jul 23. – Jul 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.

This year, seating is at 25 percent capacity and still is free but must be reserved. Tickets will be available at 10 a.m. Mondays before the event.

Jul 23. – Jul 24.

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.

Jul 23. – Jul 24.

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.

Jul 24.

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.

It's rescheduled from Memorial Day weekend.

Jul 24.

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.

 

 

Jul 24. – Jul 25.

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.

Jul 26. – Aug 1.

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.

Jul 26. – Aug 1.

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.

Jul 29. – Jul 31.

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.

Jul 29. – Aug 1.

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.

Jul 30. – Aug 7.

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.

 

Jul 30. – Aug 8.

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.

Jul 30. – Jul 31.

Riverboat Days in Wabasha, MN This Mississippi River town celebrates with a pedal tractor pull, duck derby, firemen's water fight and parade.

Jul 30. – Jul 31.

Festa Italia in Fitchburg, WI The heritage festival at McKee Farms 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.

Jul 30. – Aug 1.

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.

Jul 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.

This year, seating is at 25 percent capacity and still is free but must be reserved. Tickets will be available at 10 a.m. Mondays before the event.

Jul 30. – Jul 31.

Soul & Blues Festival in Iowa City, IA This music festival is held downtown. 

Jul 30. – Jul 31.

Festa Italiana in Naperville, IL This festival at the Naper Settlement is a showcase for Italian culture, food, music and artisans and has two entertainment stages.

Jul 30. – Aug 1.

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 Locash, Keith Urban, Old Dominion and Pitbull.

Aug 3. – Aug 8.

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.

Jul 30. – Aug 7.

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.

 

Jul 30. – Aug 8.

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 Locash, Keith Urban, Old Dominion and Pitbull.

Aug 3. – Aug 8.

Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival in Bemidji, MN In addition to boat races, there will be kids' activities, cultural performances, music and a parade of teams.

Aug 4. – Aug 7.

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 5. – Aug 15.

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

Aug 5. – Aug 8.

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 5. – Aug 8.

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 5. – Aug 7.

WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, MN Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley and Florida Georgia Line are among the headliners at this big country festival in west-central Minnesota.

Aug 5. – Aug 7.

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

Aug 5. – Aug 8.

Pufferbilly Days in Boone, IA This festival in central Iowa, just west of Ames, is named for a steam engine and features a spike-driving contest, mud volleyball and rides on the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad. A parade is Saturday.

Aug 6. – Aug 8.

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 6.

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 6. – Aug 8.

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 6. – Aug 7.

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 6. – Aug 8.

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.

This year, seating is at 25 percent capacity and still is free but must be reserved. Tickets will be available at 10 a.m. Mondays before the event.

Aug 6. – Aug 7.

DubuqueFest in Dubuque, IA This downtown arts festival includes dance, music on two stages, storytelling, food and children's activities.

Aug 7. – Aug 8.

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 5. – Aug 15.

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

Aug 12. – Aug 22.

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 22, Iowa 11.

Aug 12. – Aug 14.

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 12. – Aug 15.

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 12. – Aug 15.

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 Jefferson Starship, Foreigner, Toby Keith, Switchfood and Little Big Town. Thursday admission is free, and Friday-Saturday tickets are $20-$30. In addition to music, there will be an arts fair, children's activities and Saturday fireworks.

Aug 12. – Aug 14.

White Sox vs. Yankees at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, IA The Yankees will play the White Sox at the Field of Dreams movie site in a cornfield near Dubuque.

Aug 12.

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

Aug 13. – Aug 15.

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 13. – Aug 15.

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.

Aug 13. – Aug 14.

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 13. – Aug 14.

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.

Aug 13. – Aug 15.

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

Aug 13. – Aug 15.

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

This year, seating is at 25 percent capacity and still is free but must be reserved. Tickets will be available at 10 a.m. Mondays before the event.

Aug 13. – Aug 14.

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 13. – Aug 14.

Quad Cities Balloon Festival in East Moline, IL This festival at the Rock Island County Fairgrounds includes balloon glows, launches, tethered rides and a play area for children.

Aug 13. – Aug 14.

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 13. – Aug 14.

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

Aug 14.

Shawano Folk Music Festival in Shawano, WI The free, family-friendly festival in this northwoods town includes dance, crafts, children's activities and instruction in Franklin Park.

Aug 14.

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 14.

Third weekend in August

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

Aug 12. – Aug 22.

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 18. – Aug 22.

Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire, WI This family-friendly acoustic festival is near Eau Claire and features Charlie Parr, Shakey Graves, Lissie, Molly Tuttle, Sam Bush and others.

There's camping onsite.

Aug 19. – Aug 21.

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 19. – Aug 22.

Sweet Corn Festival in Sun Prairie, WI A Thursday-night parade kicks off this festival just north of Madison, and there's also a craft fair, car show, tractor pull, music, carnival rides and, on Saturday and Sunday, literally tons of steamed sweet corn.

Aug 19. – Aug 22.

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 20. – Aug 22.

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 20. – Aug 22.

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 20. – Aug 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.

This year, seating is at 25 percent capacity and still is free but must be reserved. Tickets will be available at 10 a.m. Mondays before the event.

Aug 20. – Aug 21.

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

Aug 20. – Aug 22.

Winnie The Pooh Festival in White River, ON The hometown of the famous children's-book bear celebrates with a block party, bounce houses, parades and fireworks.

White River is on the east side of Lake Superior, on the Trans-Canada Highway between Marathon and Wawa.

Aug 20. – Aug 22.

Michigan Full Moon Fest in Grand Junction, MI There will be three days of blues music and camping in this village, 10 miles east of South Haven.

Aug 20. – Aug 22.

Lake Geneva Blues Festival in Lake Geneva, WI This first annual festival features local, regional and national performers on two stages at the House of Music festival grounds east of Lake Como.

Aug 20. – Aug 21.

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

Aug 21.

Soar on the Shore in Algoma, WI Learn about kite-flying from professionals on Lake Michigan's Crescent Beach. There will be giant-kite and stunt shows and crafts and a candy drop for kids. 

Aug 21.

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. There's also a PastyParade.

Aug 21.

Porchfest in Superior, WI Forty musical acts will play on 10 historic porches, including Fairlawn, from noon to 6 p.m. There will also be storytellers, dance, theater, an art fair and food trucks.

Aug 21.

Fourth weekend in August

Lakes Bluegrass Festival in Pine River, MN This family-friendly festival, just off the Paul Bunyan State Trail, features more than 40 bluegrass shows and free workshops.

Aug 25. – Aug 29.

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 26. – Sep 6.

Orton-Front Festival in Madison, WI The Marquette Waterfront and Orton Park festivals combine this year, with aerial dance and family entertainment in Orton Park and, in Yahara Place Park on Lake Monona, music on two stages and children's games.

Aug 26. – Aug 29.

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

Aug 27. – Aug 29.

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 27. – Aug 28.

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 27. – Aug 29.

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 27. – Aug 29.

HarborFest in Marquette, MI This Lake Superior town celebrates with rock and blues music, a classic car and motorcycle show, a luge run and inflatables for kids.

Aug 27. – Aug 28.

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

Aug 28.

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 28.

Oneida Pow-Wow in Oneida, WI This free family festival near Green Bay features dancing, singing, drumming, indigenous foods and crafts and lacrosse exhibitions.

In nearby De Pere, learn more about the band at the Oneida Nation Museum.

Aug 28. – Aug 29.

Grant's Home Front Reenactment in Galena, IL In Ulysses S. Grant's hometown, living-history reenacters hold an encampment along the river and stage Civil War battle reenactments at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Aug 28. – Aug 29.

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 26. – Sep 6.

Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI They call this the world's largest music festival. More than 1,000 acts perform on 12 stages along Lake Michigan. 

Sep 2. – Sep 4.

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.

Sep 2. – Sep 6.

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

Sep 3. – Sep 5.

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.

 

Sep 3. – Sep 6.

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. 

Sep 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.

 

Sep 4. – Sep 5.

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 Sunday.

Sep 4. – Sep 6.

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.

Sep 4. – Sep 6.

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.

Sep 4.

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

Sep 4. – Sep 5.

Marina Fest in Sister Bay, WI In this Door County village, there will be a vintage boat show, craft fair,  kids' carnival, music and Saturday fireworks.

Sep 4. – Sep 6.

Bike the Drive in Chicago, IL Along a 30-mile loop, ride car-free on Lake Shore Drive, with a post-ride festival in Grant Park.

Sep 5.

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.

 

Sep 6.

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


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