While warm-weather festivals throughout the state are likely to feature a beer tent and a brat stand, there are many other food groups to discover: native, ethnic, faux ethnic, mashup, vegan, and familiar summer fare. Starting with spring's maple syrup tapping and winding down with chili cookoffs and the apple harvest, these celebrations should tide you over until Thanksgiving.
We recommend confirming event details before making any long drives.
1-3 pm, Mar. 24, Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Monona
Tapping trees, making maple syrup, cooking demos and ice cream sundaes topped with maple syrup.
Apr. 6, Mackenzie Environmental Education Center, W7303 County Road CS & Q, Poynette
Pancake breakfast, guided tours of the sugarbush, demonstrations on tapping a maple tree and making syrup, plus ice cream being churned. 608-635-8105.
Isthmus a la Carts
May 10, Olin Park, Madison
Bringing together a variety of the city's food carts in one place with a beautiful view of the skyline. Time to try new cuisines, close to home.
May 17-19, 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 creampuffs, strawberry shortcake, Norwegian meatballs, sandbakkels and herring. 608-873-7912.
May 18-19, Muscoda
Morels can be almost impossible to find, unless you have "the knack." Instead of spending hours poking under dead leaves for the elusive morsels, head straight to this annual fest. Available fried, or buy a bunch to cook at home. 608-739-3182.
May 24-27, festival grounds, Burlington
There will be wine and chocolate pairings, chocolate chip tastings, cooking demonstrations and a candy-bar-eating contest. 262-763-3300.
May 24-27, Willow Island, Alliant Energy Center, Madison
Brats, hot dogs, veggie brats, celebrity cashiers and bands, bands, bands.
May 31-June 2, Doyle Park, Little Chute
Cheese is savory, cheese is sweet. Cheese breakfast, cheese-curd-eating competition and a sweet cheesecake contest. 920-788-7390.
May 31-June 2, McKee Farms Park, Fitchburg
A celebration of Madison's longstanding Italian community; the Italian Workmen's Club hosts. Expect a no-holds-barred spaghetti-and-meatball dinner. 608-258-1880.
3:30-7:30 pm, June 1, Capital Brewery, 7734 Terrace Ave., Middleton
Three locally sourced burgers, paired with a Wisconsin microbrew; $30 to benefit REAP Food Group.
June 1, Madison
Meet a local cow on the Capitol Square 8 am-1 pm and sample milk, cheese and ice cream. 608-250-4257.
10 am-6 pm, June 1, Pierce Park, Appleton
Greek and Serbian food includes gyros, souvlaki, chevapi (sausage), gibanjica (phyllo pastry), tiropita (phyllo and feta), baklava and other pastries. 920-730-8119.
9 am-10 pm, June 1, Hart Park, Wauwatosa
Vendors usually offer fish and chips, meat pies, sausage rolls and Scotch eggs. This year, there's also a haggis-taco-eating contest at 2 pm. Other fun includes stone putts and the throwing of other large objects, piping, dancing and sheepdog demos. 414-422-9235.
June 1, Martin Park, Sturgeon Bay
There's a side pork cookoff, along with bands, kid activities and a fun run.
June 7-8, St. Feriole Island Ball Park, Prairie du Chien
Cajun food, Louisiana beer and music. 608-326-2060.
June 7-8, Mill Pond Park, Osceola
An 11 am rhubarb bake-off on Saturday in the categories of pies, cakes, bars, breads, jam/jellies, cobblers/crisps, cookies, and miscellaneous. After judging, all will be sold by the slice to benefit the public library.
10 am-5 pm, June 8, Goodman Community Center, 149 Waubesa St., Madison
Local vegan food from carts and restaurants, as well as samples from national vendors.
June 8-9, Fireman's Park, Hwy. 33, Hillsboro
The Czech dinner (roast pork, dumplings and sauerkraut) is at 11 am Saturday. Czech baked goods are also for sale. 608-489-2521.
June 12, Rock County 4H Fairgrounds
Drive-up begins at 4 pm, walk-in serving at 5 pm. Bone-in pork chops, potato salad, applesauce.
June 14-16, Henry W. Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee
Open at noon daily. It's hard to beat the filled dumplings known as pierogies, but try bigos (hunter's stew), zupa grzybowa (mushroom soup), and placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes). Polish vodka, mead, liqueur tastings and cooking demos, too. 414-529-2140.
11 am-3 pm, June 16, McKellar Park, Blanchardville
On the grill: chicken and baked potatoes; plus salads and desserts. 608-523-4215.
June 22, Little Norway, Mount Horeb
Enjoy a traditional bonfire and Norwegian foods. 608-437-8211.
June 22-23. Saturday 10 am-6 pm, Sunday 10 am-5 pm
This is where you'll find the original strawberry brat, strawberry shortcake, strawberry pie, strawberry crepes, strawberry slushies, strawberry schaumtorte, chocolate-covered strawberries and strawberry cheesecake, plus strawberry blush wine and a Sunday strawberry pancake breakfast (8-11 am). 262-377-3891.
July 11-14. East Town/Cathedral Square Park, Milwaukee
Festival-goers can enjoy French and Cajun cuisine at sidewalk cafes while enjoying live music and street performers. The mini-Parisian atmosphere is completed with a 43-foot-tall Eiffel Tower replica. 414-271-1416.
July 20, Port Washington
Billed as the "World's largest outdoor one-day fish fry," Fish Day features nine stands selling deep-fried fish and chips or shrimp and chips, or either without any chips. And yes, there's beer.
July 25-28, 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. 414-464-9444.
July 27-28, Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, Seventh Street & East Washington Avenue, Madison
Saturday 3-9 pm, Sunday noon-6 pm. One of Madison's favorite street fests. Traditional Greek-style roast lamb and chicken dinners, spanakopita, gyros sandwiches, Greek salads, honey puffs, baklava and Greek pastries. 608-244-1001.
Aug. 1-3, Kiwanis Park, Sheboygan
Brats can be found everywhere in Wisconsin in the summer, but here, the celebration is truly of the bratwurst. Brat on a stick, brat jambalaya, brat barbecue, brat egg roll, brat tacos and deep-fried veggies with a brat. Other foods include cream puffs, corn dogs and plenty of fried cheese. Oof. 920-803-8980.
Aug. 15-18, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee
Irish food, dancing, clan reunions. 414-476-3378.
Aug. 15-18, Angell Park (Hwy. 19 and N), Sun Prairie
Cardboard baskets of fresh hot sweet corn on the cob. Pull down the husk and rub the corn in butter and salt. Devour. Corn served Saturday and Sunday noon-7 pm. 608-837-4547.
Aug. 31-Sept. 1, Capitol Square, Madison
Sample food from more than 80 restaurants. 608-276-9797.
Sept. 6-8, Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee
Native American flatbread with various toppings, buffalo, venison, freshwater fish, Indian tacos, wild rice casserole, turkey, roasted corn, Native garden bean soup and more. 414-604-1000.
Sept. 7, Chandler Park, Pardeeville, 10 am
The slices of watermelon are free. There will also be contests having to do with carving the melon, eating the melon and spitting the seeds.
Sept. 7, Deacon Mills Park, Green Lake
Chefs from around the Midwest come to compete for the title of "creator of the best chili in Wisconsin," plus other entertainment. Cooking starts at 11 am, judging at 3 pm, with sampling afterward. 920-294-6504.
Sept. 7, intersection of Canal & Henry streets, Edgerton, 11 am-midnight
Chili cookoff, with public chili tasting at 3 pm, other food concessions and bands. 608-561-7566.
Sept. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Madison
Over 40 organizations, farms and restaurants; local foods tent, cooking and tasting demos, first-ever Food Camp.
Sept. 27-29, Warrens, 7 am
Cranberries are a big deal in Wisconsin agriculture. Bus tours ($6) of a cranberry marsh run every 15 minutes 8 am-3 pm Friday and Saturday. Cranberry cream puffs and pancakes with cranberry syrup are some of the cranberry-enhanced foods available. 608-378-4200.
Sept. 28-29, Gays Mills
Celebrate the apple in the epicenter of southern Wisconsin's apple country, traveling from orchard to orchard along the unglaciated ridge that overlooks the town. Apple pie at the Methodist church 10:30 am-5 pm both days. 608-735-4341.
- Compiled by Linda Falkenstein and Bob Koch