June to September
You already know about Milwaukee’s annual blowout, Summerfest, which takes place this year between June 27 and July 7 (11:30 AM-midnight daily, $9 general admission; 800-273-3378, www.summerfest.com), but the city’s also the midwest’s summer ethnic festival capital. A sampling: Asian Moon Festival, June 14-16; Polish Fest, June 21-23; Bastille Days, July 11-14; Festa Italiana, July 18-21; German Fest, July 26-28; African World Festival, August 2-4; Irish Fest, August 15-18; Mexican Fiesta, August 23-25; and Arabian Fest, September 13-15.
Lakeside Park | Fond du Lac
2-8 Friday, 8-8 Saturday,
Fond du Lac’s walleye festival claims the world’s largest outdoor fish fry; that ought to be enough to draw crowds, but there’s more: the top walleye anglers in the world compete in a National Walleye Tournament (the actual fishing happens Saturday and Sunday between 6 AM and 2:30 PM), and festival organizers sweeten the grill with live music and athletic competitions.
Flag Day Celebration
10:30-9:30 | Free | 262-692-9111
One of those holidays that doesn’t get a lot of respect (probably because it’s sandwiched between the other two major flag-waving holidays), Flag Day may hold a particular resonance this year, even outside Waubeka, which has devoted its resources toward celebrating the flag since 1946, three years before the observance was made a national holiday. They say schoolteacher Bernard Cigrand started it all in the local schoolhouse in 1885. The National Flag Day Foundation in Baltimore says otherwise, but how do they know? Were they there? Flag Day itself is on June 14; Waubeka’s celebration is always held on the preceding Sunday, with a parade, a “circus-type festival,” and fireworks.
990 Flambeau Ave. | Phillips
9-4 Saturday, 10-3 Sunday | $1 | 800-269-4505
If you can go to one ethnic festival this summer, and you want to see this year’s Czech-Slovak Queen State Pageant, try your hand at kraslice (egg decorating), or attend a polka jamboree (8 PM Saturday, Phillips Municipal Building, 174 S. Eyder Ave.), this is the place to be.
Festival Hall (in Festival Park) | Racine
$5, kids 12 and under Free | 262-634-1931 | www.salmonarama.com
Touted as the world’s largest freshwater fishing event, Salmon-a-Rama brings thousands of fisherfolk annually to Racine in hot pursuit of a $25,000 grand prize. Somehow the live music and 100,000 spectators don’t chase off the fish.
Riverside Park | Cassville
5-midnight Friday, 9-dusk Saturday, 9-6 Sunday | Free | 608-725-5855 | www.cassville.org
Participants in this 58th annual celebration of multiplicity arrive two by two for the soap box derby at 5 on Friday evening, but the real action takes place on Sunday, when there’s a chicken barbecue at noon and the twins are judged, paraded, and interviewed at 1:30.
Lumberjack World Championships
715-634-2484 | www.lumberjackworldchampionships.com
Not quite as lavish as Salmon-a-Rama, this weekend-long event draws around 200 lumberjacks and jills to compete for a $50,000 jackpot–“the largest payback of any lumberjack competition in the world,” according to organizers. The competitors come from as far away as New Zealand and Spain to the Lumberjack Bowl in Hayward–formerly a holding pond for Weyerhauser’s North Wisconsin Logging Company–to pole climb, speed saw, logroll, and chop with all their might. Weekend-pass discounts are available.
National Mustard Day
11-4 | Free, but donations for Second Harvest Food Bank accepted | 800-438-6878 | www.mustardmuseum.com
The Mustard Museum (100 W. Main St.) has 3,800 varieties of mustard in its collection–the largest in the world. Today’s observance of the 12th annual National Mustard Day includes free samples of exotic condiments like chocolate fudge or espresso mustard, free hot dogs, and mustard-themed games. For more opportunities to chow down on charred meat head over to…
11-11 | $8, $5 in advance |
The 8,226-pound patty grilled at last year’s festival netted the town of Seymour the world record for the largest burger ever. The site of the Hamburger Hall of Fame (126 N. Main St.), the town claims that the first hamburger was served at the Seymour fair by Charles Nagreen in 1885; others credit Cincinnati Germans, a seller who first slapped a patty on a bun at the 1904 Saint Louis World’s Fair, and a luncheonette owner in New Haven, Connecticut. Historians say that hamburger was invented in medieval times when Tartar nomads on the Asian steppes tenderized raw meat by sliding a slab under the saddle, riding all day, then scraping the loosened pieces into a mash seasoned with salt, pepper, and onion juice.
Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw
Marion Park | Prairie du Sac
7 PM-midnight Friday, 7:30 AM-midnight Saturday | $2, $1 for kids | 608-643-4317 | www.saukprairie.com
Yep, we recommend it every year. Why? It’s the real thing. All participants must pick their chip from an official wagonload; the winner will advance to the national championship in Beaver, Oklahoma. No need to throw a chip to watch the Tournament of Chips parade Saturday at noon. Nose holding frowned upon, souvenirs available.
August 31-September 2
Wilhelm Tell Festival
Free | 800-527-6838 | www.swisstown.com
Residents of the town of New Glarus, established by Swiss immigrants from Glarus in 1845, have kept the Swiss spirit alive by reproducing the look of their ancestral village, speaking Swiss German in mixed company, and celebrating Swiss culture whenever possible. Their annual performance of Friedrich von Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell was inaugurated in 1938. The play tells the legendary story of how an Austrian despot forced Tell to shoot an apple off his son’s head in 1307. Tell shot the apple, then later the Austrian, inspiring Switzerland to shake itself free of the Hapsburg yoke in 1315. Daily performances of Schiller’s Tell are presented outdoors with a cast of 200 villagers, plus several goats, cows, and horses. Overnight camping at the Tell Grounds is available for $15.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/David Heatley.