Fall is traditionally a time of harvest, for gathering food for the long winter ahead.
In Wisconsin, we still honor that tradition with festivals that focus on food – only the harvesting has already been done, so we can just enjoy the plentiful food and drink!
Here are some of the state’s best fall fests:
Oktoberfest USA – La Crosse
When: Sept. 29-Oct. 2
Where: Southside Grounds, 2nd and La Crosse streets; Northside Grounds, Rose and Clinton streets in Copeland Park
What’s Unique: Festzelt at Copeland Park is a Munich-style Oktoberfest tent.
Raise a stein or two at Oktoberfest USA, where beer is king. But there’s family fun, too, including carnival rides, games and more at the Northside Grounds. Both sites feature live music and other entertainment, food and special events. Two parades will fill downtown streets, one at 7 p.m. Thursday and another at 10 a.m. Saturday. Thursday is craft beer night, with the Festmaster ball on Friday night.
Bayfield Apple Fest
When: Oct.7- 9
Where: Throughout Bayfield
What’s unique: Sunday’s grand parade features a mass band with more than 400 participants; fish fry dinner Saturday afternoon at Lakeside Pavilion followed by a Saturday evening dance
Bayfield offers a beautiful setting for this homage to Wisconsin apples, on the shores of Lake Superior, home of the Apostle Islands, just a short boat ride away. USA Today named it one of the “10 Best Fall Harvest Festivals in the Nation,” with its bountiful array of fresh apple treats from tarts to tortes -- even bratwurst and butter. And you can pick your own apples and pumpkins at farms just outside of town. The fair features 60 orchard and food booths, plus 100 arts and crafts booths, live music, kids carnival and contest and a 5K trail run.
When: Oct. 7-9
Where: Foster Park, 200 Block of North Main Street, Mayville
What’s Unique: Bed races down Main Street
Good, old-fashioned hometown fun starts at 5 p.m. Friday with bed races right down Main Street and live music at night. A Saturday bike tour travels around a beautiful Horicon Marsh decked out in fall colors for the abundant wildlife. Enjoy the weekend Market on Main Street, plus fun family shows, a caricature artist, duck races, crafts tent, pumpkin painting, archery lessons and plenty of food options. The big parade starts Sunday at 11 a.m.
From The Land Festival
When: Oct. 15-16
Where: Toll/Londowski Family Farm, one mile west of Highway 49 and J intersection, Green Lake
What’s unique: Voyageur canoe and tepee and Native American Healing Lodge
Step back in time and away from noisy festivals for a quiet day of traditional crafts and skills. Featured are Amish rockers, folk art painting, jewelry, wood furniture, papier mache, soaps, needle felting and more, plus food from the land such as eggs, gourds, apples, lamb and buffalo. Learn more about nature’s healthful benefits from a natural herbalist or enjoy a foraging walk, folk music or live bird demonstration.
Kohler Food and Wine Experience
Where: American Club Resort, Kohler
When: Oct. 20-23
What’s Unique: Among the presenters are TV chefs Aaron Sanchez and Amanda Freitag, plus Jack Bishop, editorial director of America’s Test Kitchen
The event is a four-day extravaganza of food and wine -- from tailgating food and prime rib to whiskey and champagne -- at the elegant American Club. Interact with celebrity chefs, libation experts and epicurean enthusiasts known around the world. The festival includes culinary seminars, tastings and other festivities, besides wine dinners and a champagne brunch. Saturday starts with yoga on the lake and a sampling of wine.