Chocolate is good. Chocolate Fest is better.
This is the only time of year where I get to type the words paczki, chrusciki and kolaczki. Paczki (pronounced something like 'pawnchki') are deep-fried jam-filled doughnuts. Chrusciki (maybe something like 'crewseek-ee') are fried bow-tie-shaped cookies. And kolaczki (kolachee) are rich cookies with jam fillings. These are the kinds of goodies that you'll run into at Wisconsin's many food festivals ' in this instance, Polish Fest in Milwaukee. No matter where you go, there will be bands, parades, antique cars, dunk tanks, duck races, children's games, and more ' but the star of the show, as far as we are concerned, is the food. We kick the season off with Mexican, meatballs and morels, and wind up in harvest season with corn, cranberries and Cortlands ' apples, of course. We recommend phoning ahead to confirm event details before driving long distances.
Cinco de Mayo
May 5-6, Wisconsin State Fair Park, West Allis
Homemade Mexican foods, plus the added zest of Mariachi bands. 414-389-6000.
May 18-20, Stoughton
Can you say 'hold the lutefisk'? Real Norwegian food like lefse, sandbakkels, Norwegian meatballs and herring, joined by the compromise-position lefse chicken wraps, plus other more American fare like deep-fried cheese curds, fresh cream puffs and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Sons of Norway Syttende Mai Dinner, Saturday only, with seatings at 11 am, 12:15 pm, 1:30 pm, and 4:30 pm; call 873-5436 for reservations. www.stoughtonwi.com.
Morel Mushroom Festival
May 19-20, Muscoda
Hard to find but easy to eat, the morel is the centerpiece of this yearly fest. Buy morels to take home from 9 am-5 pm, or try fried morels on-site from 10 am-2 pm at 206. N. Wisconsin Ave. There will also be cheese, brats and other food stands. 608-739-3182.
May 25-28, Fri. 4 pm-midnight, Sat. 10 am- midnight, Sun. 10 am-midnight, Festival Grounds, Burlington
Theme this year is 'Live chocolately ever after.' A 'taste of chocolate' tent and 'win your weight in chocolate' contest ' could be a dangerous proposition in Wisconsin, we think. 262-763-3300.
May 26-28, Red Cloud Memorial Park, Black River Falls
Native American food. 715-284-9343, 800-294-9343 ext. 1123 or 608-847-5694.
The World's Largest Brat Fest
May 25-28, Fri.-Sun. 11 am-8 pm , Mon. 11 am-6 pm, Willow Island, Alliant Energy Center, Madison
Nothing says summer like a brat tent and beer, and here $1.50 will get you a brat, an Oscar Mayer hot dog or a vegetarian Boca brat. bratfest.com; during the fest use the Brat Phone, 345-2220.
June 1-3, McKee Farms Park, 2900 Chapel Valley Rd., Fitchburg
The Italian Workmen's Club of Madison hosts this celebration with lots of Italian food. www.iwcmadison.com.
Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival
June 1-3, Doyle Park, Little Chute
Enjoy a cheese curd eating competition, cheesecake contest, cheese carving demo, free cheese tasting, the Big Cheese Parade and Big Cheese Breakfast. In a word: cheese. 920-788-7390.
Cows on the Concourse
June 2, 8 am-1 pm, Capitol Square, Madison
Samples of dairy products ' cheese, ice cream, and yes, milk ' and the cows that produce them.
Highland Games / Scottish Fest
June 2, Old Heidelberg Park, Milwaukee
Scottish food, plus bagpipes. 414-422-9235.
Cesky Den Czech Heritage Festival
June 9-10, Fireman's Park, Hwy. 33, Hillsboro
Czech bakery, Czech dinner Sat. only, 11 am until food's gone, featuring roast pork, dumplings, sauerkraut and more. Chicken barbecue on Sunday. 608-489-221, ceskyden.com.
June 16-17, Phillips, Sat. 9 am-4 pm, Sun 10 am-3 pm
Kolachy baking contest; pork and kraut dinner, Sunday at 11 am. 888-408-4800.
June 16, 10 am-6 pm Penn Park
Celebrating the end of slavery with soul food and more. 257-2453.
Father's Day Chicken BBQ
June 17, McKellar Park, Blanchardville
Half a chicken with baked potato, salads, cheese and more. 608-523-2274.
June 22-24, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee.
One of the biggies, with Polish food including (are you sitting down?) Polish ham and sausage, pierogi, placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes), bigos (hunter's stew), zupa grzybowa (mushroom soup), czarnina (duck blood soup), sauerkraut, paczki, chrusciki and kolaczki. 414-529-2140.
Cedarburg Strawberry Festival
June 23-24, Sat. 10 am-6 pm, Sun. 8 am-5 pm
Berries by the quart, shortcake, pie, crepes, slushies, schaumtorte, ice cream, wine and more. Sunday pancake breakfast 8 am-10:30 am. 800-237-2874.
Argyle Fish Fry
June 23, Argyle
Fish fry, French fries, ice cream and duck races! 608-543-3525.
July 12-15, Thurs.-Sat. 11 am-midnight, Sun. 11 am-9:30 pm. East Town/Cathedral Square, Milwaukee.
No brat tent here ' sidewalk cafÃs with French, Creole and Cajun cuisine: beignets, Ãclairs, crÃpes, cakes, croque-monsieur, spicy blackened sandwiches, breads, cheeses, French wines and champagnes. 414-271-1416. www.easttown.com
July 14-15, Brussels Town Park, Brussels
Authentic Belgian pie (an open-face coffeecake hybrid, with fruit and ricotta cheese fillings) and trippe (a cabbage and pork sausage). 920-825-1418.
July 21-22, Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, Seventh Street & East 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. 244-1001.
Port Washington Fish Day
July 21, Port Washington
World's largest outdoor one-day fish fry. 800-719-4881, portwashingtonchamber.com.
July 28, Warner Park, Madison
A celebration of local Hispanic culture. 255-3018.
July 26-29, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee
German food beyond bratwurst ' potato pancakes, sauerkraut, torte, strudel, kuchen, bienenstich, gulasch, herring, fried herring, sauerbraten, schnitzel and a whole roast pig. 414-464-9444.
July 2-4, Kiwanis Park, Sheboygan
Sure, you can eat a brat pretty much anywhere in the state, but try one in the 'Bratwurst Capital of the World.' It's like going to hear Bruce in New Jersey. 920-452-5916. sheboyganjaycees.com.
African World Festival
July 3-5, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee
Fried plantain, jollof rice, ashanti peanut stew, barbecue ribs, fried chicken, gumbo and peach cobbler. 414-372-4567.
August 4, 129 Depot St., Seymour
As Sheboygan is to bratwurst, so is Seymour to hamburgers. The home of the Hamburger Hall of Fame; hamburger eating contest. $8/$5. 920-833-6688.
August 5, 11 am-7 pm, 5 Fifth St., Racine
Traditional Armenian food and music from the biggest Armenian fest in the Midwest. 262-639-6076.
Arab World Fest
August 10-11, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee
Shish kebab, hummus, falafel, baba ghanough, Arabic teas and coffees and desserts. 414-727-5517.
August 11, Warner Park, Madison
August 16-19, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee
Irish festival with scones, soda bread and corned beef. 414-476-3378. www.irishfest.com.
Sweet Corn Festival
August 18-19, Sat. noon-midnight, Sun. noon-10 pm, Angell Park (Hwy. 19 and N), Sun Prairie
Corn on the cob is the main event. Line up for a cardboard tray piled dangerously high with ears of hot steamed sweet corn. Burn your fingers de-husking, then slather with butter and salt. Perfect veg-out for a summer day. 837-4547.
Wisconsin State Chili Cookoff
September 8, 11 am-6 pm, Green Lake
Contestants vie for the title 'creator of the best chili in Wisconsin.' Cooking starts at 11 am, music at noon; judging at 3 pm with sampling afterwards. 920-294-6504. www.greenlakecc.com.
Food for Thought Festival
September 15, 8 am-1 pm, Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Madison
Celebrate locally grown food. reapfoodgroup.org.
September 22-23, 9 am-5 pm, Gays Mills
Southern Wisconsin's apple headquarters. Food stands, apple pie, pancake & sausage breakfast. 608-735-4810, gaysmills.org.
September 28-30, Warrens
Tour cranberry marshes; cranberry pies, cranberry cream puffs, jams and more; cranberry syrup and pancake breakfast; cranberry pie and lunch; parade. 7 am-dusk. 608-378-4200, cranfest.com.