It's getting to be time to hit the road in search of the best food Wisconsin has to offer - out in the streets and parks, under tents, in church basements and at county fairgrounds. Summer festivals celebrate the history of state ethnic groups and the products of local farms. Along with the dunk tank there are pies and cream puffs. After the softball game there is beer and brats. And cheese? Cheese is everywhere at all times.
We recommend confirming event details before making any long drives.
May 13-15, Stoughton
The 17th of May is Norwegian Constitution Day, but you don't need a Norwegian constitution for 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.
Morel Mushroom Festival
May 13-15, Muscoda
Morels can be hard to find, but instead of spending hours poking under dead leaves for the elusive morsels, head straight to this annual fest. Available fried, or buy a bunch to cook at home. 608-739-3182.
May 27-30, Festival Grounds, Burlington
Highlights include wine and chocolate pairings, chocolate chip tastings, cooking demonstrations and a candy-bar-eating contest. 262-763-3300.
World's Largest Brat Fest
May 27-30, Willow Island, Alliant Energy Center, Madison
Choose from Wisconsin-made Johnsonville brats, Oscar Mayer hot dogs, or veggie Boca brats.
Cows on the Concourse
June 4, Capitol Square, Madison
Head to the Square 8 am-1 pm to see cows and sample milk, cheese and ice cream. 608-575-5388.
Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival
June 3-5, Doyle Park, Little Chute
Dive into the cheese breakfast, cheese curd-eating competition or the sweet cheesecake contest. 920-788-7390.
June 3-5, 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.
11 am-6 pm, June 4, Pierce Park, Appleton
Greek and Serbian food includes gyros, souvlaki, chevapi (sausage), gibanjica (phyllo pastry), tiropita (phyllo and feta), baklava and other pastries. 920-730-8119.
Highland Games/Scottish Fest
9 am-10 pm, June 4, Hart Park, Wauwatosa
Try fish and chips, meat pies, sausage rolls, and Scotch eggs. What, no haggis? 414-422-9235.
Cesky Den Czech Heritage Festival
June 11-12, Fireman's Park, Hwy. 33, Hillsboro
The Czech dinner (roast pork, dumplings and sauerkraut) is Saturday this year. Take home some Czech bakery goods, like yummy kolaches (fruit filled pastries). 608-489-2521.
Father's Day Chicken BBQ
11 am-3 pm, June 19, McKellar Park, Blanchardville
Don't make Dad cook today! On the grill: chicken and baked potatoes; plus salads and desserts. 608-523-2274.
June 17-19, 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. Or try bigos (hunter's stew), zupa grzybowa (mushroom soup), and czarnina (duck blood soup). 414-529-2140.
Little Norway's Midsummer's Eve
June 18, Little Norway, Mount Horeb
Enjoy a traditional bonfire and Norwegian foods. 608-437-8211
Cedarburg Strawberry Festival
June 25-26, Sat. 10 am-6 pm, Sun. 10 am-5 pm, Cedarburg
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. 888-894-4001.
July 14-17, Thurs.-Sat. 11 am-11 pm; Sun. 11 am-9 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. The mini-Parisian atmosphere is completed with a 43-foot-tall Eiffel Tower replica. 414-271-1416.
Port Washington Fish Day
July 16, 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.
July 30-31, 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.
July 28-31, 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. 414-464-9444.
August 4-6, Kiwanis Park, Sheboygan
Brats, like cheese, are everywhere, but Sheboygan is Wisconsin's brawurst mothership. Look for brat tacos, brat pizzas, brat gyros, and more. 920-207-6606.
August 18-21, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee
Irish food like soda bread, corned beef and colcannon join other fair fare. 414-476-3378.
Sweet Corn Festival
August 18-21, Angell Park (Hwy. 19 and N), Sun Prairie
Cardboard baskets of fresh hot sweet corn on the cob. Pull down the husk and rub the corn in butter and salt. Devour. Corn served Sat. and Sun. noon-7 pm only. 608-837-4547.
Taste of Madison
September 3-4, Sat. 2-8:30 pm, Sun. 11 am-7 pm, Capitol Square, Madison
Sample food from more than 80 area restaurants. 608-276-9797.
Indian Summer Festival
September 9-11, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee
Native American offerings include Indian tacos, buffalo, venison, and turkey. 414-604-1000.
10 am, September 10, Chandler Park, Pardeeville
Free all-you-can-eat watermelon. Did we mention the seed-spitting contest?
Wisconsin State Chili Cookoff
September 10, Deacon Mills Park, Green Lake
Chefs from around the Midwest come to compete for the title of "creator of the best chili in Wisconsin," plus other entertainment. Cooking starts at 11 am; judging at 3 pm with sampling afterwards. 800-253-7354.
11 am-midnight, September 10, Canal & Henry streets, Edgerton
Edgerton...chili: Need we say more? Chili cook-off (registration begins 7 am, cooks' meeting 10 am), chili tasting 3 pm, music by Monday Morning Dixie Band 11 am, MadiSalsa 2 pm. $6 (ages 12 & under free). 884-3358.
7 am daily, September 23-25, 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.
September 24-25, Gays Mills
Celebrate the apple with plenty of fresh apples, apple pie and a pancake breakfast. 608-735-4341.
- Compiled by Linda Falkenstein, Megan Larson and Bob Koch