It would be next to impossible to make it through Wisconsin when the weather is nice and not smell bratwursts on a grill. The chances of stumbling upon Kuchen (several different types of pastries, desserts, and cakes), Bienenstich ("bee sting cake"), sauerbraten (beef roast in gravy), or knodel (potato dumpling) are less likely, unless you're actually seeking them out. Fortunately, these treats and others can be found at Wisconsin festivals -- these specifically at Milwaukee's German Fest. The season begins with odes to Mexico and morel mushrooms and closes with with beer -- Oktoberfest -- and fruit festivals for cranberries and apples. We recommend confirming event details before making any long drives.
May 3-4, 2701 Chase Ave., Milwaukee. There is no better way to celebrate this holiday than with traditional, homemade Mexican dishes. 414-389-6000.
May 16-18, Stoughton. If you want to try traditional Norwegian food, look towards the herring, sandbakkels, and meatballs. Otherwise, there are still the more Americanized options of deep-fried cheese curds and fresh cream puffs. 608-873-7912, stoughtonwi.com.
May 17-18, Muscoda. Morels can be hard to find, but are full of great flavor. These tasty treats can be purchased and taken home or eaten fried on-site at 206. N. Wisconsin Ave. 608-739-3182. muscoda.com.
May 23-26, Festival Grounds, Burlington. Theme this year is "Pirates of the Chocolate Be'an." While Johnny Depp will not be in attendance, wearing his Captain Jack Sparrow gear, the boatloads of chocolate will make up for it. Check out the cooking demonstrations by professional chefs or find some chocolate to test out for yourself. 262-763-3300. chocolatefest.com.
Largest Brat Fest
May 23-26, Willow Island, Alliant Energy Center. If a brat isn't your style, grab a hot dog or a veggie Boca brat - the perfect summer food. bratfest.com; during the fest use the Brat Phone, 608-345-2220.
May 24-26, Black River Falls, Pow Wow Grounds (Hwy 54). Fry bread, succotash and dried meats are just a few of the Native American items to try out. 715-284-4658, 800-404-4008. blackrivercountry.net. (Also 8/30-9/1.)
June 2, Madison. Go to the Capitol Square from 8 am to 1 pm to see cows on display, and sample milk, cheese and ice cream. 608-256-1988.
Wisconsin Cheese Festival
June 6-8, Doyle Park, Little Chute. Fri. 5 pm-midnight, Sat. 10:30 am-midnight, Sun. 11 am-5 pm. Cheese in all ways, shapes and forms; big cheese breakfast. Enter the savory cheese curd-eating competition or the sweet cheesecake contest. No matter what, there will be something on hand to suit your cheesy desires. 920-788-7380. littlechutewi.org.
June 6-8, McKee Farms Park, 2900 Chapel Valley Rd., Fitchburg. The Italian Workmen's Club of Madison hosts a celebration of Italian food and culture with more than just the average spaghetti and meatball dinner. 608-258-1880. iwcmadison.com.
June 7, 11 am-7 pm, Pierce Park, Appleton. Greek and Serbian food including gyros, souvlaki, chevapi (sausage), gibanjica (phyllo pastry), tiropita (phyllo and feta), baklava and other pastries. 920-832-1417.
June 7, 9 am-9 pm, Old Heidelberg Park, Glendale. Just follow the sounds of the bagpipe bands to enjoy traditional Scottish food. 262-796-0807.
Czech Heritage Festival
June 13-15, Fireman's Park, Hwy. 33, Hillsboro. Czech dinner Sat. at 11 am until food's gone, featuring roast pork, dumplings and sauerkraut; Czech bakery. 608-489-2521, ceskyden.com.
Day Chicken BBQ
June 15, McKellar Park, Blanchardville. Get to a dad's heart through his stomach at this annual festival with a traditional barbecue meal. 608-523-2274.
June 19, 3030 Martin Luther King Dr, Milwaukee. Traditional soul food - fried chicken, sweet potato pie and more - to celebrate the end of slavery. 414-372-3770.
June 20-22, Phillips High School, Phillips. Czech/Slovak cuisine, kolachy baking contest, roast pork and kraut dinner, Sun. at 11 am. czech-slovak.tripod.com.
June 20-22, Henry W. Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. Fri. & Sat. noon-midnight, Sun. noon-10 pm. Definitely not one to miss - the largest Polish fest in the Midwest. Taste the different soups and stews, like bigos (hunter's stew), zupa grzybowa (mushroom soup), and czarnina (duck blood soup), along with other Polish delicacies like pierogies. 414-529-2140. polishfest.org.
Norway's Misummer's Eve
June 21, 3-8 pm, Little Norway, Mount Horeb. Traditional bonfire and Norwegian foods. 608-437-8211.
June 28-29, Sat. 10 am-6 pm, Sun. 8 am-5 pm. The perfect summer fruit is highlighted in this fest. Berries are not only sold fresh, but can also be tried in any form from shortcakes to wine and much more. 262-377-9620. cedarburgfestivals.org.
July 10-13, Thurs.-Sat. 11 am-midnight, Sun. 11 am-9:30 pm. East Town/Cathedral Square Park, Milwaukee. Festival goers can enjoy Cajun, Creole, Canadian and French cuisine at sidewalk cafes while enjoying live music and street performers. A 43-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower completes the mini-Parisian atmosphere. 414-271-1416. easttown.com.
July 12-13, Brussels Town Park, Brussels. You can't fine trippe (a cabbage and pork sausage) on every street corner, so try some here, or Belgian pie - apparently native to Wisconsin Belgian settlements, and not a traditional pie at all. 920-746-0274.
July 17-20, Thurs. 2 pm-midnight, Fri.-Sun. 11:30 am-midnight, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. A celebration of great Italian food and traditions. festaitaliana.com.
Washington Fish Day
July 19, Port Washington. "World's largest outdoor one-day fish fry" featuring deep-fried fish and chips, beer and soda. 800-719-4881, portfishday.com.
July 19-20, Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, 7th Street & E. Washington Avenue, Madison. Traditional Greek-style roast lamb and chicken dinners, spanakopita, gyros sandwiches, Greek salads, honey puffs, baklava, and a variety of Greek pastries. 608-244-1001.
July 22, 4:30-8:30 pm, Legion Park, Platteville, Strawberry desserts, cake and ice cream. 608-348-8888.
July 25-27, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. Over three days, 20,000 brats, five tons of potatoes (for potato pancakes), 10,000 lbs. of sauerkraut and 35,000 pieces of sweet dessert (like pastry, torte and strudel) will be consumed. It is safe to say that you will not leave this festival hungry. 414-464-9444. germanfest.com.
July 26, Warner Park, Madison. Celebrates the Hispanic and Latino cultures. 608-255-3018.
July 31-8/2, Kiwanis Park, Sheboygan. Not just the basic bratwurst that you can get anywhere. Think you've seen brats? Think again, as they appear here in the guise of brat tacos, brat pizzas, brat gyros and more. The BoDeans are set to headline. 920-912-6172. sheboyganjaycees.com.
Aug. 1-3, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. Celebrate African cultural life and rituals and enjoy some great food - from fried plantain, jollof rice and ashanti to peanut stew, barbecued ribs and peach cobbler. 414-372-4567. africanworldfestival-milwaukee.com.
Aug. 2, 9 am-10:30 pm, Lakeside Park (Hwy 57), Jacksonport. Cherries are the focus of this summer festival. 920-823-2288.
Aug. 3, 11 am-7 pm, 5 Fifth St., Racine. The largest Armenian Fest in the Midwest features traditional Armenian cuisine, like lavash and matnakash - the two kinds of bread served with most dishes. 262-639-6076.
Aug. 8-10, Fri. 5 pm-midnight; Sat. noon-midnight, Sun. noon-10 pm, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. Maybe take your camel ride before you indulge in baba ghanoush, hummus, falafel, shish kebab and Arabic tea. 414-727-5517, arabworldfest.com.
Aug. 8-10, Southside Fest Grounds, LaCrosse. Tea garden, Irish market, Irish stew, Irish potatoes and corned beef. 800-658-9424.
of Plenty Fest
Aug. 9, 100 Depot St., Seymour. If you want a good burger, Seymour is the place to go. For those who are in for a little more intense eating, check out the hamburger eating contest. When you get full, stop by the Hamburger Hall of Fame. 920-833-6688, homeofthehamburger.org.
Aug. 14-17, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. It may not be St. Patrick's Day, but it is the nation's largest Irish festival. There is no better way to celebrate Irish culture than through eating soda bread and corned beef. 414-476-3378, irishfest.com.
Aug. 16-17, Angell Park (Hwy. 19 and N), Sun Prairie. We missed this event last year when it was canceled in the torrential rains. Make up for it this year by consuming hot corn on the cob, served still in the husk, in cardboard containers. A simple yet messy summer snack. Pull down the husk and cover the corn in butter and salt, then dig in. Corn served Sat. and Sun. noon-7 pm only. 608-837-4547, sunprairiechamber.com.
Aug. 16, Warner Park, Madison. African American and other African-influenced cuisines. 608-258-0261.
Aug. 30-31, Capitol Square, Madison. Downtown Madison is packed with so many great restaurants that it is hard to choose just one. With this festival, you don't have to - over 50 serve a sample of what they have to offer. madisonfestivals.com/taste.
Sept. 5-7, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. A fun way to try out a whole lot of different types of food - Indian tacos, buffalo, venison and turkey. 414-604-1000, indiansummer.org.
Sept. 6, Chandler Park, Pardeeville. Watermelon contests and free all-you-can-eat watermelon. pardeeville.com.
State Chili Cookoff
Sept. 6, 11 am-6 pm, Green Lake. 40 chefs from around the Midwest compete for the title of "creator of the best chili in Wisconsin." Cooking starts at 10:30 am, music at noon; judging at 3 pm with sampling afterwards. 920-294-3231, greenlakecc.com.
Sept. 19-20, Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Madison. A celebration of making the eating experience more pleasurable, healthy and sustainable through exploring how much fun food can be. reapfoodgroup.org.
Sept. 19-21, Chippewa Falls. Four stages of live entertainment and lots of excellent German food. 866-723-0340.
Sept. 26-28, Warrens. See the cranberry marshes that this berry comes from. Next, head over to try them in many different forms - cream puffs, cranberry pies, cranberry jam, cranberry syrup...everything to satisfy that sweet tooth. 7 am-6 pm. 608-378-4200, cranfest.com.
Sept. 27-28, 9 am-5 pm, Gays Mills. Kick off the fall fruit season with apples galore. Fresh apples and baked goods, as well as a pancake breakfast. 608-735-4341, gaysmills.org.