Have more fun: Wisconsin food festivals

Everyone knows Wisconsin is the Dairy State, but our food selections go far beyond the dairy aisle. In fact, coming to Wisconsin and only tasting our cheese is like ordering a hot fudge sundae and eating only the cherry on top.

Summer in Wisconsin is an especially good time to savor our great flavors. From June’s Dairy Month “Breakfasts on the Farm” to community gatherings and the Wisconsin State Fair, there’s a plate to serve every palate. So in the spirit of my New Year’s resolution to “Have More Fun in 2017,” I present to you some of the great summertime food festivals of Wisconsin. Bon appetite!

Say cheese: There’s no shortage of festivals celebrating our state’s great dairy heritage. Start with the Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival in Little Chute (June 2-4), Butterfest in Sparta (June 8-11), Reedsburg’s Butterfest (June 15-18), a Cheese Derby in Hilbert (June 15) and Ellsworth’s Cheese Curd Festival (June 23-24). Throughout the summer, you’ll also find Dairy Days celebrations from Marshfield to Markesan and many points in between.

Ripe for the pickin’: Our growing season might not be very long, but it is delicious. Strawberry festivals in Fitchburg (June 15), Waupaca (June 17), Sun Prairie (also June 17) and Cedarburg (June 24-25), make way for Blueberry Fest in Iron River (July 20-23) and Jacksonport’s Cherry Fest (Aug. 5). The 45th annual Cranberry Fest in Warrens (Sept. 22-24) is the largest in the world. And you won’t want to miss the 10-foot apple pie that gets baked up annually (Oct. 7) at Apple Affair in Galesville. (I know it’s not a summer event, but this one is near and dear to my family’s heart; my late grandfather was the creator of the original 10-foot pie!)

The meats: My family loves Burgerfest in Seymour, the “Home of the Hamburger,” held the second weekend in August. I do the Bun Run 5K, and my girls bring home bags bursting with parade candy. Don’t miss the hot air balloon launch, hamburger eating contest or Ketchup Slide! Wisconsin carnivores might also get a kick out of Madison’s Brat Fest (May 26-29), Side Pork Fest in Sturgeon Bay (June 10), Darboy’s Chickenfest (June 22-24), the Catfish Extravaganza in Greenville (July 7-8), Brat Days in Sheboygan (Aug. 3-5) or the Bacon Bash in River Falls (Sept. 16-17).

The sweets: Calories don’t count during the summer, so indulge your sweet side at Chocolatefest in Burlington (May 26-29) or Chocolate Fest in Hortonville (June 2-3). Shawano is bubbling over its first ever SunDrop Dayz (June 2-3). Two Rivers, the “Birthplace of the Ice Cream Sundae,” holds an Ice Cream Sundae Thursday (June 22), and don’t miss the Jelly Belly Carnival in Pleasant Prairie (July 6-9) or Ripon’s Cookie Daze (Aug. 5).

This is just a small sampling of the food festivals and fairs being served up this summer. Did I miss your favorite? Please reply in the comments below!

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