With "eating local" the watchword these days, it's worth checking out the food stands at state festivals that celebrate the bounty of local farms. Take the popular Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival, where the ears of sweet corn are fresh-picked and steamed en masse before being handed over to you still in the husk. Add pure Wisconsin butter, a dash of salt and you have an unbeatable celebration of the harvest.
Or witness the Morel Mushroom Festival, where the bounty comes from patiently foraging for the elusive treat in the woods. And concerning another traditional Wisconsin product: At most festivals, it won't be hard to find the beer tent.
But most of these fests don't bypass the carnival pleasures of funnel cakes and fried cheese curds, either.
We recommend confirming event details before making any long drives.
May 15-17, Stoughton. The 17th of May is Norwegian Constitution Day, but you don't need a Norwegian constitution to enjoy traditional Norwegian food. Look for lefse wraps, burgers, brats, Norwegian cookies, fresh cream puffs and strawberry shortcake; plus, Norwegian meatballs, lefse, sandbakkels and herring. 608-873-7912. .
May 23-25, Pow Wow Grounds, Hwy. 54, Black River Falls. (Also Sept. 5-7.) Fry bread, succotash and dried meats are just a few of the Native American items on the menu. 715-284-4658, 800-404-4008. .
Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival
June 5-7, Doyle Park, Little Chute. Fri. 5 pm-midnight, Sat. 10 am-midnight, Sun. 11 am-5 pm. Dive into the cheese breakfast, cheese-curd-eating competition or the sweet cheesecake contest. 920-788-7390. .
June 6, 11 am-7 pm, Pierce Park, Appleton. Greek and Serbian food includes gyros, souvlaki, chevapi (sausage), gibanjica (phyllo pastry), tiropita (phyllo and feta), baklava and other pastries.920-832-1417. www.focol.org/stnicholas/festival.htm.
Father's Day Chicken BBQ
June 21, McKellar Park, Blanchardville. Don't make Dad cook today! On the grill: chicken and baked potatoes; plus salads and desserts. 608-523-2274.
June 19, 3030 Martin Luther King Dr., Milwaukee. Eat traditional soul food - fried chicken, sweet potato pie and more - to celebrate the end of slavery. 800-554-1448.
June 19-21, Henry W. Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. Noon-Midnight Fri. & Sat, noon-10 pm Sun. It's hard to beat the filled dumplings known as pierogies, and Milwaukee is a stronghold of great pierogies. But try bigos (hunter's stew), zupa grzybowa (mushroom soup) and czarnina (duck blood soup). 414-529-2140. littlenorway.com/midsummer_.htm.
Cedarburg Strawberry Festival
June 27-28, Cedarburg. Sat. 10 am-6 pm, Sun. 10 am-5 pm. Berries are available by the quart or atop shortcake, in pie, filling crepes, dotting ice cream or as the basis of wine - or a slushie, your pick. 262-377-9620. .
Port Washington Fish Day
July 18, Port Washington. Billed as the "world's largest outdoor one-day fish fry," Fish Day features deep-fried fish and chips. Plus, ice cream-eating and smoked fish-eating contests. 800-719-4881. .
July 23-26, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. This is one of the biggies, with brats, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, pastries, tortes and strudels. Not just any sauerkraut, either: German Fest sauerkraut comes from a secret recipe (though high-level sources say that apple-wood bacon, apples, brown sugar, onions and caraway seeds are a part of it). 414-464-9444. www.bratdays.org.
Arab World Fest
Aug. 7-9, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. Plan ahead and take your camel ride before you indulge in authentic baba ghanoush, hummus, falafel, shish kebab and Arabic tea. 414-727-5517. .
Sweet Corn Festival
Aug. 20-23, Angell Park (Hwy. 19 and N), Sun Prairie. Baskets of hot corn on the cob; pull down the husk and cover the corn in butter and salt, then dig in. Corn served Sat. and Sun. noon-7 pm only. 608-837-4547. .
Indian Summer Festival
Sept. 11-13, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee. Native American offerings include Indian tacos, buffalo, venison and turkey. 414-604-1000. www.indiansummer.org.
Sept. 25-27, Warrens. Behold the humble cranberry elevated to something more than just sauce that retains the shape of its can: cranberry cream puffs, cranberry pies, cranberry jam, cranberry fritters, Swedish pancakes with cranberry syrup and cranberries jubilee. 608-378-4200. .
- Compiled by Linda Falkenstein and Megan Larson