With "eating local" the watchword these days, it's worth checking out the food stands at state festivals that celebrate the bounty of local farms. Take the popular Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival, where the ears of sweet corn are fresh-picked and steamed en masse before being handed over to you still in the husk. Add pure Wisconsin butter, a dash of salt and you have an unbeatable celebration of the harvest.
Or witness the Morel Mushroom Festival, where the bounty comes from patiently foraging for the elusive treat in the woods. And concerning another traditional Wisconsin product: At most festivals, it won't be hard to find the beer tent.
But most of these fests don't bypass the carnival pleasures of funnel cakes and fried cheese curds, either.
We recommend confirming event details before making any long drives.
May 15-17, Stoughton. The 17th of May is Norwegian Constitution Day, but you don't need a Norwegian constitution to enjoy traditional Norwegian food. Look for lefse wraps, burgers, brats, Norwegian cookies, fresh cream puffs and strawberry shortcake; plus, Norwegian meatballs, lefse, sandbakkels and herring. 608-873-7912. www.stoughtonwi.com.
Morel Mushroom Festival
May 16-17, 206 N. Wisconsin Ave., Muscoda. Morels can be hard to find, but not at this annual fest. You can get them fried or buy a bunch to cook at home. There's also a fire department steak feed May 16 at 5 pm. 608-739-3182. www.muscoda.com.
May 22-25, Festival Grounds, Burlington. Highlights include wine and chocolate pairings, chocolate chip tastings, cooking demonstrations and a candy-bar-eating contest. 262-763-3300. www.chocolatefest.com.
World's Largest Brat Fest
May 22-25, Willow Island, Alliant Energy Center. Choose from Wisconsin-made Johnsonville brats, Oscar Mayer hot dogs or veggie Boca brats. New this year is the Double Johnny - two Johnsonville brats in one bun! During the fest use the Brat Phone, 608-345-2220. www.bratfest.com.
May 23-25, Pow Wow Grounds, Hwy. 54, Black River Falls. (Also Sept. 5-7.) Fry bread, succotash and dried meats are just a few of the Native American items on the menu. 715-284-4658, 800-404-4008. blackrivercountry.net.
Cows on the Concourse
June 6, Madison. Go to the Capitol Square 8 am-1 pm to see cows and sample milk, cheese and ice cream. 608-575-5388. danecountydairy.com.
Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival
June 5-7, Doyle Park, Little Chute. Fri. 5 pm-midnight, Sat. 10 am-midnight, Sun. 11 am-5 pm. Dive into the cheese breakfast, cheese-curd-eating competition or the sweet cheesecake contest. 920-788-7390. littlechutewi.org.
May 29-31, McKee Farms Park, 2900 Chapel Valley Rd., Fitchburg. The Italian Workmen's Club of Madison hosts a celebration of Italian food and culture that's more than just an average spaghetti-and-meatball dinner. 608-258-1880. www.iwcmadison.com.
June 6, 11 am-7 pm, Pierce Park, Appleton. Greek and Serbian food includes gyros, souvlaki, chevapi (sausage), gibanjica (phyllo pastry), tiropita (phyllo and feta), baklava and other pastries.920-832-1417. www.focol.org/stnicholas/festival.htm.
Highland Games/Scottish Fest
June 6, 9 am-9 pm, Hart Park, Wauwatosa. Try fish and chips, meat pies, sausage rolls and Scotch eggs. What, no haggis? 414-422-9235. www.milwaukeescottishfest.com.
Cesky Den Czech Heritage Festival
June 13-14, Fireman's Park, Hwy. 33, Hillsboro. The Czech dinner (roast pork, dumplings and sauerkraut) starts Sat. at 11 am and goes until the food's gone; take home some Czech bakery goods, like yummy kolaches (fruit filled pastries). 608-489-2521. www.ceskyden.com.
Father's Day Chicken BBQ
June 21, McKellar Park, Blanchardville. Don't make Dad cook today! On the grill: chicken and baked potatoes; plus salads and desserts. 608-523-2274.
June 19, 3030 Martin Luther King Dr., Milwaukee. Eat traditional soul food - fried chicken, sweet potato pie and more - to celebrate the end of slavery. 800-554-1448.
June 19-21, Henry W. Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. Noon-Midnight Fri. & Sat, noon-10 pm Sun. It's hard to beat the filled dumplings known as pierogies, and Milwaukee is a stronghold of great pierogies. But try bigos (hunter's stew), zupa grzybowa (mushroom soup) and czarnina (duck blood soup). 414-529-2140. www.polishfest.org.
Little Norway's Midsummer's Eve
June 20, 4-8 pm, Little Norway, Mt. Horeb. Enjoy a traditional bonfire and Norwegian foods. 608-437-8211. littlenorway.com/midsummer_.htm.
Cedarburg Strawberry Festival
June 27-28, Cedarburg. Sat. 10 am-6 pm, Sun. 10 am-5 pm. Berries are available by the quart or atop shortcake, in pie, filling crepes, dotting ice cream or as the basis of wine - or a slushie, your pick. 262-377-9620. www.cedarburgfestivals.org.
July 9-12, East Town/Cathedral Square Park, Milwaukee. Thurs.-Sun. 11 am-midnight; Sun. 11 am-9 pm. Festival-goers can sample Cajun, Creole, Canadian and French cuisine at sidewalk cafes while enjoying live music and street performers. The mini-Parisian atmosphere is completed with a 43-foot-tall Eiffel Tower replica. 414-271-1416. www.easttown.com.
Port Washington Fish Day
July 18, Port Washington. Billed as the "world's largest outdoor one-day fish fry," Fish Day features deep-fried fish and chips. Plus, ice cream-eating and smoked fish-eating contests. 800-719-4881. www.portfishday.com.
July 18-19, Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, Seventh Street & East Washington Avenue, Madison. One of Madison's favorite street fests. Traditional Greek-style roast lamb and chicken dinners, spanakopita, gyros sandwiches, Greek salads, honey puffs, baklava and Greek pastries. 608-244-1001. www.agocwi.org.
July 23-26, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. This is one of the biggies, with brats, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, pastries, tortes and strudels. Not just any sauerkraut, either: German Fest sauerkraut comes from a secret recipe (though high-level sources say that apple-wood bacon, apples, brown sugar, onions and caraway seeds are a part of it). 414-464-9444. www.germanfest.com.
July 30-Aug. 1, Kiwanis Park, Sheboygan. Although this is obviously not the only fair in Wisconsin where you will be able to obtain a brat this summer, here it is the star of the show. As such, it will appear in many guises other than simply slipped into a bun. Look for brat tacos, brat pizzas, brat gyros and more. 920-803-8980. www.bratdays.org.
African World Festival
Aug. 1-2, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. African food, including fried plantain, jollof rice, ashanti peanut stew, barbecued ribs and peach cobbler. 414-372-4567. www.africanworldfestival-milwaukee.com.
Aug. 2, 5 Fifth St., Racine. 11 am-7 pm. Traditional Armenian cuisine; lavash and matnakash. 262-636-9229. www.racine.org.
Arab World Fest
Aug. 7-9, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. Plan ahead and take your camel ride before you indulge in authentic baba ghanoush, hummus, falafel, shish kebab and Arabic tea. 414-727-5517. arabworldfest.com.
Aug. 13-16, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. Irish food's not just for St. Paddy's Day any more: soda bread, corned beef and colcannon join other fare. 414-476-3378. www.irishfest.com.
Sweet Corn Festival
Aug. 20-23, Angell Park (Hwy. 19 and N), Sun Prairie. Baskets of hot corn on the cob; 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. www.sunprairiechamber.com.
Taste of Madison
Sept. 5-6, Capitol Square, Madison. Sat. 2-8 pm, Sun. noon-7 pm, Sample food from over 50 area restaurants. www.madisonfestivals.com/taste.
Indian Summer Festival
Sept. 11-13, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. Native American offerings include Indian tacos, buffalo, venison and turkey. 414-604-1000. www.indiansummer.org.
Sept. 12, Chandler Park, Pardeeville. Free all-you-can-eat watermelon. Did we mention the seed-spitting contest? www.pardeevillewatermelonfestival.com.
Wisconsin State Chili Cookoff
Sept. 12, Green Lake. 10:30 am-6 pm. 40 chefs from around the Midwest come to 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. 920-294-6504. www.greenlakecc.com.
Food for Thought Festival
Sept. 26, Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Madison. A celebration of eating sustainably and healthfully. Chefs will present food demos; don't miss keynote speaker Michael Pollan. reapfoodgroup.org.
Sept. 25-27, Warrens. Behold the humble cranberry elevated to something more than just sauce that retains the shape of its can: cranberry cream puffs, cranberry pies, cranberry jam, cranberry fritters, Swedish pancakes with cranberry syrup and cranberries jubilee. 608-378-4200. cranfest.com.
Sept. 26-27, Gays Mills. Celebrate the apple with plenty of fresh apples, apple pie and a pancake breakfast. 608-735-4341. gaysmills.org.
- Compiled by Linda Falkenstein and Megan Larson