This coming week, in events that get to your heart through your stomach.
Wednesday, May 23
Welcome to the Bean Feed, the fundraiser for the South Central Federation of Labor that features "no speeches and no program." Just sit down for a meal and talk things over at this 53rd annual gathering. The beans in question are baked beans, and they go along with the honest working person's sausage, the hot dog, not gussied up to be a Sonoran Dog or a Seattle Dog. Plus pasta salad and potato salad, soda or beer. For a five buck donation, it's all you can eat. Labor: It's not just for Labor Day! Madison Labor Temple, 1602 S. Park St., 6-7:15 p.m., $5 donation. Call 256-5111 for more info.
Friday, May 25 - Monday, May 28
Moving on to the true food of Memorial Day weekend: Yes, just as turkey has come to epitomize Thanksgiving, so does the bratwurst usher in summer, particularly in Madison. The traditional World's Largest Brat Fest returns for its thirtieth year, once again with the goal of breaking its own record of 209,376 bratwursts served, set in 2010. The fesival offers carnival-like atmosphere at Willow Island over four days, with scores of bands playing on four stages, celeb cashiers, rides, and more. There are many ways to consume, including brats, chicken brats, hot dogs, veggie dogs, and corn-on-the-cob. Proceeds go to local charities. Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Energy Center Way, 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday. See Facebook and Twitter, and call 236-2041 for more info.
Saturday, May 26
The People's Bratfest returns for a second year with its celebration of sausages and local solidarity. Moving from the environs of the Capitol to the UW campus, this family-minded community festival builds upon its inaugural edition with more locally sourced treats and entertainment. The menu includes: a variety of brats from Stoddard's and Regent Market, vegan brats from Field Roast, buns from Silly Yak, Oakhouse, and Pretzilla!, cookies and cheese curds purchased from the Dane County Farmers' Market, baklava from Athens Gyros, and soda from Sprecher. Bands, performers, and children's activities are lined up, too. Presented by the Autonomous Solidarity Organization, this fest likewise raises money for local charities. UW Library Mall, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. See Facebook, and call 658-5900 for more info.
Sunday, May 27
Lots and lots of bands populate the menu for Wurst Times, another second wave bratwurst-based party borne out of the state's ongoing political fervor. This festival similarly builds upon its premiere last year. More than 30 bands will perform on stages at the High Noon, the Brink Lounge, and the outdoor patio between the two. Brats from Hoesley's Meats will be served, as will veggie brats, and taps beers from Minhas. Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin is once again the charitable beneficiary of the fest, with all proceeds going to the group. High Noon Saloon, 701 E. Washington Ave., 11 a.m.-8 p.m., $10 donation. Call 268-1122 for more info.
More events this week
Tuesday, May 22
Youth Cooking School: Spring Baking, for kids ages 6-12, with instructors preparing a menu of carrot cake and dirt pie. Whole Foods Market, 3313 University Ave., 4:30-6 p.m., $10. Call 233-9566 for more info.
Wednesday, May 23
Rooftop Farmers, a weekly session for kids to explore gardening, raising animals, harvesting, and cooking. Madison Children's Museum, 100 N. Hamilton St., 3:30 p.m., free with $8 admission. Call 256-6445 for more info.
City Chickens 101 class, with instructor Alicia Rheal of Mad City Chickens covering the basics of raising urban chickens, including shelter, feeding, behavior, regulations, and the types of poultry available. Willy Street Co-op East, 1221 Williamson St., 6-8 p.m., $15 owners and $25 all others. Call 251-6776 for more info.
Thursday, May 24
Molecular Gastronomy class, with instructor Jennifer Jones covering a scientific approach to cuisine and cooking, addressing techniques that include spherification, gelification, and foam making. Whole Foods Market, 3313 University Ave., 6-7:30 p.m., $25. Call 233-9566 for more info.
Friday, May 25
Burlington ChocolateFest, the 26th annual four-day community festival celebrating the role of Nestlé in Burlington, featuring chocolate tastings and vendors, the Chocolate O-Lympics and Choco Minute to Win It, chocolate eating and cookie decorating contests, chef demonstrations and competitions, a chocolate flash mob, carnival, parade, live music, children's activities, and more. Festival Grounds, 864 Maryland Ave., Burlington, 4 p.m.-midnight Friday, 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday, 10 a.m.-midnight Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday. Call 262-763-3300 for more info.
Saturday, May 26
Salute Our Vets Community Celebration, an annual Memorial Day weekend festival in Black Earth, featuring food vendors, a military honor guard ceremony, live music, children's activities, and more. Veterans Memorial Park, 1215 Mills St., noon-midnight. Call 608-767-3844 for more info.Solar Oven Cooking, a class for kids to "learn how to cook a tasty and nutritious meal using the sun's energy." Madison Children's Museum, 100 N. Hamilton St., 3:30 p.m., free with $8 admission. Call 256-6445 for more info.
Sunday, May 27
Petite Chefs: Around the World, for kids ages 6-12, with instructor Tara Verma sharing ideas for how to explore and prepare dishes from various international cuisines. Whole Foods Market, 3313 University Ave., 2-3:30 p.m., $15. Call 233-9566 for more info.
Monday, May 28
CPACC Chicken Barbecue, an annual fundraiser for the Cross Plains Area Chamber of Commerce and its community projects, featuring barbecue chicken dinners and hot dogs, a pie and ice cream sale, a beer tent, kids' activities, a parade, and more. American Legion Ker-Endres-Brannon Post 245, 2217 American Legion Dr., Cross Plains, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Call 843-3166 for more info.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Memorial Day, an annual parish festival hosted by Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Monona, featuring food vendors selling burgers, brats, hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, and La Fortuna Pizza, along with a bake sale, beer tent, bingo, a White Elephant sale, silent auction and raffle, live music, children's activities, and more. Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, 5101 Schofield St., Monona, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 221-1521 for more info.
Tuesday, May 29
Youth Cooking School: Farm Foods, for kids ages 6-12, with instructors covering how to use seasonal vegetables to prepare fun dishes. Whole Foods Market, 3313 University Ave., 4:30-6 p.m., $10. Call 233-9566 for more info.
Screening of Comeback: The Wisconsin Beer Movie, a 2012 documentary by Tim Tynan and Caitlin Iverson about the ongoing growth of craft brewing in the Badger State. East Side Club, 3735 Monona Dr., 4 p.m., $10 donation. Call 222-9131 for more info.
Screening of Hot Coffee, a 2011 documentary by Susan Saladoff about "what really happened to Stella Liebeck, the Albuquerque woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald's, while exploring how and why the case garnered so much media attention, who funded the effort and to what end." Sequoya Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd., 6 p.m., free. Call 257-5741 for more info.
Cooking with Herbs class, with instructor Jennifer Jones covering how to select and use both fresh and dried herbs in the kitchen. Willy Street Co-op West 6825 University Ave., 6-8 p.m., $15 owners and $25 all others. Call 284-7800 for more info.