Milwaukee: A City of Festivals, Fairs & Fun

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Posted by: Unknown on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 12:00:00 am

Whether you enjoy celebrations of heritages and music festivals or prefer Strawberries and Tomato Romps, the Milwaukee area has a festival or fair for you.

Many of the major festivals take place on the lakefront at Maier Festival Park (also known as the Summerfest Grounds), but you can also find a wide array festivals elsewhere around the city as well.

Although some of these have already passed, here’s a quick rundown of some of the best:

Major Festivals

Summerfest
When: June 26 - June 30, and July 2 - 7
Where: Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Dr.
What:  Summerfest, also known as "The Big Gig,” Summerfest is the world’s largest music festival. Held annually along the lakefront, this kick-off to summer boasts 11 days of music on 11 stages with over 700 performances. From rap to country to blues and rock, Summerfest satisfies every musical taste.

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State Fair
When: August 1-11
Where: State Fair Grounds, 640 S. 84th Street
What: For 11 days each August, the Wisconsin State Fair provides fun, affordable and unique entertainment. It’s got everything from music and the midway to a milk house and monkeys! In terms of music, while the Grandstand Main Stage features a different headline performance each evening of the fair, there are also side stages to see local acts and cover bands. The midway features rides and games for the whole family. There are also exhibit halls where fairgoers can purchase everything from salsa makers and mops to hammocks and apparel, plus additional exhibits featuring horticulture and agriculture.

And then, of course, there are the animals: Check out the livestock from around the state, enjoy a pig and duck race, or check out special features like “Wild About Monkeys” or “White Tiger Discovery.”

Finally, last, but certainly not least, over the years, the Fair has become perhaps best known for its FARE—featuring the world-famous cream puffs and a plethora of items on a stick. Try deep-friend peanut butter and bacon nuggets or a Krispy Kreme burger with spicy pig candy—those are just a few of the 70 NEW menu items (21 of them on a stick) for this year’s fair. Come hungry.

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Ethnic Festivals


Milwaukee Highland Games
When: June 1
Where: Hart Park, 7300 Chestnut St.
What: Milwaukee’s Scottish Fest features bagpipe bands, Highland dancing, sheepdogs, unique athletic events, great Scottish food and a Parade of the Tartans.

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Polish Fest
When: June 14 - 16
Where: Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Dr.
What:  America’s largest Polish festival is in your own backyard! Enjoy polka & folk dancing, music, cultural history, vodka tasting and the best Polish food all in one place.


Bastille Days
When: July 11 - 14
Where: Cathedral Square Park, 520 E. Wells St.
What: Milwaukee’s popular French festival is one of the nation’s largest French-themed celebrations. This free, four-day bash attracts over 250,000 visitors annually who enjoy live music, an international marketplace, chef and wine demos, French and Cajun cuisine, roaming busker entertainment and a signature 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica offering hourly light shows.

One particular popular event is the BMO Harris Bank Storm the Bastille run/Walk, a 5K fun run on Opening night, which draws over 5,000 runners and walkers who flood the streets, reenacting the revolutionary storming of the Bastille prison.

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Festa Italiana
When: July 18 - 21
Where: Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Dr.
What: Festa Italiana is all about food, family and fireworks. Enjoy Festa favorites such as rice balls, fried eggplant, calamari, and canola; test out your bocce balls skills, take a romantic gondola ride, and enjoy the Pinochhio Parade; and tradition says that Festa has the best fireworks on Milwaukee’s lakefront.

German Fest
When: July 25 - 28
Where: Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Dr.
What: “Milwaukee’s Original Haus Party” celebrates German culture and tradition, including food, travel, history, music and more. Many well-known German restaurants and food services from Southeast Wisconsin make the trip to provide attendees with great authentic German cuisine and be sure to check out the Glockenspiel!

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African World Festival
When: August 3 - 4
Where: Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Dr.
What:  African World Festival is a celebration of African-American heritage and culture. Enjoy a sample of ethnic foods, shop around the marketplace and enjoy lots of great entertainment.

Irish Fest
When: August 15 - 18
Where: Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Dr.
What: It’s often said that on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish and the same can be said during Irish Fest in Milwaukee, one of the city’s most popular ethnic festivals. The largest and best Irish cultural event in North America,  Irish Fest has been part of the Milwaukee community for over 30 years, dedicated to promoting and celebrating all aspects of Irish culture.

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Mexican Fiesta
When: August 23 - 25
Where: Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Dr.
What: Mexican Fiesta brings the sounds, culture and taste of Mexico to Milwaukee with three days of fun, food, Mariachi and Fiesta for all.

Indian Summer Festival
When: September 6 - 8
Where: Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Dr.
What: This festival honors the Native American culture, which has been so influential in the Great Lakes region for the past five centuries, with a traditional Pow Wow, fireworks, Indian dance troupes, Tribal Villages, and so much more.

Food & Drink Fests & Fairs

Cedarburg’s Strawberry Fest
When: June 22-23
Where: Historic Downtown Cedarburg
What:  Celebrate the most luscious fruit of the summer—fresh, home-grown strawberries, during Historic Cedarburg’s Strawberry Festival. This free event features the berry in several delicious forms, including a strawberry brat, shortcake, pie, crepes, slush—and wine! Stroll Washington Avenue and enjoy arts, crafts and music.

Firkin Craft Beer Festival
When: July 20
Where: Cathedral Square Park, located between Kilbourn Avenue (North), Jackson Street (East), Wells Street (South) and Jefferson Street (West).
What: This beer tasting event features over 100 craft beers to sample from Milwaukee breweries as well as guest beers from around the country.

Milwaukee Brew Fest
When: July 27
Where: Coast Guard Pavilion at McKinley Park, 1600 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.
What: Sample over 250 craft beers and micro brews from over 60 breweries from across the country and enjoy live music, food from local restaurants and displays by local artists and craftsmen.

Tomato Romp & Harvest Festival
When: September 14
Where: North Avenue from Prospect to Oakland
What: If you enjoy Bloody Marys, this festival is for you. Enjoy Bloody Mary samples from several local establishments, then cast your vote in the Best Bloody Mary Contest. The day ends with a Rotten Tomato Fight. Proceeds from the event go towards organizations that help alleviate hunger in the community.

Cedarburg’s Wine & Harvest Festival
When: September 21-22
Where: Historic Downtown Cedarburg
What:  Transition from the summer festival season to fall in Historic Cedarburg during the annual Wine & Harvest Festival. Enjoy a variety of food, featuring grilled corn, caramel apples, apple cider, plus a variety of local products and wines and more. Enjoy live music, arts and crafts and don’t forget to join in the Giant Pumpkin Charity Regatta!


Miscellaneous

PrideFest
When: June 7 - 9
Where: Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Dr.
What:  For over 25 years, PrideFest Milwaukee has been proudly celebrating the diversity of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) culture and community with a variety of entertainment acts and activities.
 
Milwaukee Indy Fest
When: June 14-15
Where: State Fair Grounds
What:  The Milwaukee IndyFest is an IndyCar Series race held at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis.

Waukesha County Fair
When: July 17-21
Where: Waukesha County Fair Grounds
What: The Waukesha County Fair is the oldest fair in Wisconsin; it features food, music and other entertainment such as truck & tractor pulls, demolition derby and more.

Milwaukee Rally
When: August 28-September 2
Where: Various Harley-Davidson sites
What: The Milwaukee Rally is a free-admission national motorcycle rally produced by the Harley-Davidson Dealers of Metro Milwaukee. This year, Harley-Davidson is celebrating its 110th anniversary, so, in addition to the annual Rally, many other events are being held over Labor Day weekend around the city. For more information, visit: http://110.harley-davidson.com/en_US.

Paramount Blues Festival
When: September 6-7
Where: Lime Kiln Park, Grafton
What: Love Blues music? Then you’ll want to check this festival out in Grafton!

Tosa Fest
When: September 6-7
Where: State Street, Wauwatosa
What:  One of the larger community festivals, Tosa Fest features music, food and drink from local restaurants and fun for the entire family.

Remember, this is just a summary of some of our city’s fun-filled festivals and fairs which make for non-stop frivolity from June through September.  Be sure to check out our Milwaukee365.com calendar for other events going on in your neighborhood year round!

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