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Get Out of Here

Your guide to the best summer events around Wisconsin

May. 19, 2010
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There’s nothing like summer in Wisconsin. It’s our reward for enduring the cold, dark days of winter and slushy, rainy days of spring. So, with Memorial Day just around the corner, here are my top recommendations for the best events around the state this summer. But remember: Always check for schedule changes before heading to events. For more ideas about summer getaways, go to www.TravelWisconsin.com.


May 20-23 and 27-30


Golf Academy for Women

Wine and cheese? Yoga? Spa? Championship golf? It’s all there at the Kohler Golf Academy for Women. Play the Blackwolf Run Championship Course, which will be the site of the 2012 U.S. Women's Open. Contact: (920) 565-6075 or www.destinationkohler.com.

May 20-23

Green Bay

LZ Lambeau: Welcome Home Vietnam Vets

A statewide effort to recognize Wisconsin’s Vietnam War veterans includes speakers, the Vietnam Moving Wall exhibit, military displays and more. Free for Vietnam and Vietnam-era veterans, $10 for the public. The “She 5” all-girl band that toured Vietnam in 1968 reunites for the first time since the 1960s. Contact: (920) 494-3401 or www.lzlambeau.org.

May 22-23

Wisconsin Dells

Automotion 2010

More than 1,000 antique and collector vehicles, a car corral with cars for sale, a swap meet, entertainment and great food. Free. Contact: (800) 223-3557 or www.wisdells.com.

May 28-31


The World’s Largest Brat Fest

Some 19 miles of brats sold in 2009, an estimated 208,752 sausages. Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, music, kayaking, midway, celebrity cashiers and delicious brats. Johnsonville Brats $1.50. Have a double! Friday through Sunday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Willow Island at Alliant Energy Center. Free admission and parking. Contact: (608) 276-9797 or www.bratfest.com.     

May 28-31


Burlington Chocolate Festival

One of the best chocolate extravaganzas in the country. Includes a carnival, entertainment, chocolate creations, chocolate tasting, chocolate Olympics, a parade, chocolate eating contest and chocolate chef demonstrations. On the ChocolateFest Grounds. Contact: 262-763-3300 or www.chocolatefest.com.


June 4-6

Little Chute

22nd Annual Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival

Cheese lovers will have three days of fun, including a cheese breakfast, parade, cheese-carving demonstrations, a cheesecake contest and cheese tasting. Contact: (920) 788-7390 or www.littlechutewi.org.

June 4-6  

Racine and Kenosha

Wright and Like 2010

Rare opportunities to tour unique architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright and other influential architects in Racine and Kenosha. Advance tickets are highly recommended. Contact: (608) 287-0339 or www.wrightinwisconsin.com.

June 5 


Cows on the Concourse

The cows kick off June Dairy Month on the Capitol Square. Get close to cows and calves, enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches, ice-cold milk and cream puffs and talk to experts. From 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Contact: (608) 310-5335 ext. 23 or www.danecountydairy.com.

June 6 and 13

Lake Geneva

Feet, Seat and Eat Spring Walk and Cruise Tours

Hike the 8-mile trail from Lake Geneva to Williams Bay, then take a seat for a narrated lunch cruise. See multimillion-dollar estates, exquisite gardens and Geneva Lake. Starts at 8:30 a.m.; ticket: $49; reservations required. Contact: (800) 558-5911 or www.lakegenevacruiseline.com.

June 17-20

Prairie du Chien

Prairie Villa Rendezvous

Time travel to the early 1800s, Wisconsin’s fur trading days. Re-enactments include demonstrations of crafts, artwork, skills and traditions. Shop the Voyageurs Marketplace for crafts and trade goods. More than 400 lodges and tepees. Contact: (608) 822-6916 or www.prairieduchien.org.

June 17-20

Elkhart Lake

Bucyrus 200/NASCAR Nationwide Series

NASCAR racing presented by Menards on the internationally acclaimed 4-mile Road America Track on Saturday. Sunday races include the TransAm and Playboy Mazda MX-5 and Mid-American Stock Cars. Contact: (800) 365-RACE (7223) or www.roadamerica.com.

June 18-19

Prairie du Sac

Prairie Fumé Picnic Days at Wollersheim Winery

Picnic at Wisconsin’s historic winery. Music by Streetlife, wine tasting, guided winery tours and food. Family friendly. Free admission. Contact: (800) VIP-WINE or www.wollersheim.com.

June 18-19


25th Annual Balloon Rally

See hot-air balloons color the skies above the Green County Fairgrounds. Friday night “glow” at fairgrounds headquarters. Saturday flights and craft fair, car show and entertainment. Contact: (608) 325-7648 or www.monroechamber.org.


July 3 (Rain date July 5)


Rhythm and Booms Fireworks Extravaganza

This awesome all-day fest offers music, food and a 35-minute radio-synchronized fireworks display with 15,000 shells. One of the largest fireworks displays in the Midwest. Free. Warner Park. Contact: (608) 833-6717 or rhythmandbooms.com.

July 8-11


38th Iola Old Car Show and Swap Meet

The granddaddy of classic car shows. More than 2,500 fine vehicles on display and a swap meet with 4,300 vendors. Find all kinds of car bits and pieces. This year’s theme: “Sensational Sixties.” Contact: (715) 445-4000 or www.iolaoldcarshow.com.

July 10-11


Art Fair On and Off the Square

Nearly 500 artists cover eight blocks around Wisconsin’s Capitol. Art Fair On the Square is one of the largest and most popular juried fairs in the Midwest. Another 140 Wisconsin artists are featured in Art Fair Off the Square. Contact: (608) 257-0158 or www.mmoca.org or (608) 204-9129www.artcraftwis.org.

July 15-18

Elkhart Lake

Kohler International Challenge—Vintage Races

Driving champion Brian Redman hosts the world’s finest vintage race cars on one of the world’s most spectacular road circuits. Ten race groups and 30 classes compete on the 4-mile track. Visit downtown Elkhart Lake to see cars on display (free) on Friday and Saturday nights. Contact: (800) 365-7223 or www.RoadAmerica.com.

July 24-25


Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show

A wild and wooly re-enactment of the famous Western show features cowboy trick riding, roping, shooting and an Annie Oakley shooting exhibition at Circus World. Contact: (608) 356-8341 or www.circusworldmuseum.com.

July 26-Aug. 1


EAA AirVenture 2010

Anything mechanical that flies may show up for AirVenture, one of the greatest aviation gatherings in the world. See thousands of airplanes: home-built, antique, passenger jets, cargo planes and ultra-lights. Daily air shows feature Warbirds, home-builts and aerobatic exhibitions. EAA celebrates the 75th anniversary of the DC-3 with some 25 planes, likely the last time this many will ever fly together. The legendary rock group Chicago performs July 26. Contact: (920) 426-4800 or www.airventure.org.


Early August

Green Bay

Packers Training Camp

Some of the best Packer football action is free. Come to training camp workouts and watch preseason team drills (the full schedule will be released later this summer). Packer fans from around the world line the fences of Clarke Hinkle Field, east of Lambeau Field, to get an up-close look at favorite veterans, stars and rookies as they work to become a team of champions. Contact: (920) 569-7500 or www.packerstrainingcamp.com.

Aug. 5-15

West Allis

Wisconsin State Fair

Holsteins, cream puffs, Percherons, cotton candy, Hampshire lambs, dairy queens, racing pigs, rock bands, Tilt-O-Whirl, 200 food vendors, 700 exhibitors, a midway of raging hormones—and more. Many events say they’ve got something for everybody, but the State Fair delivers. Contact: (800) 884-FAIR (3247) or www.wistatefair.com.

Aug. 9-15


92nd PGA Championship

One of the four most prestigious annual professional golf tournaments, the PGA Championship returns to Whistling Straits on the shore of Lake Michigan north of Sheboygan. The world’s premier players compete for the Wanamaker Trophy on Pete Dye’s spectacular and challenging course. Tickets are on sale now. New for 2010: Each ticketed adult may bring in four juniors (17 and under) free. Contact: (920) 565-4300 or www.pga.com/pgachampionship/2010.

Aug. 13-15

Green Bay

Baylake Bank Tall Ship Festival

Green Bay is one of only six ports in North America to host the 2010 Tall Ship Festival. Experience maritime life during tours and sailings on 12 vintage vessels, including Wisconsin’s own schooner, S/V Denis Sullivan. Contact: (920) 497-5664 or www.tallshipgreenbay.com.

Aug. 28-29

Mineral Point-Blue Mounds-Madison

Bike Race and Ride

On Aug. 28 a spectacular 75-mile off-road race “The Unnamed Epic” will bring up to 800 riders to a major national biking event starting in Mineral Point and running across steep, rugged terrain in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area to Blue Mounds. This area was included in the 2016 Chicago Olympic bid. On Sunday everyone is invited to Madison to Ride the Drive (scenic John Nolen Drive along Lake Monona through downtown Madison) with Lance Armstrong. “Epic” contact: 431-0559 ext. 16 or www.unnamedepic.com; “Ride” contact: (608) 266-6517 or www.cityofmadison.com/transportation/ridethedrive/about.cfm.


Sept. 3-4

Prairie du Sac

Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw

Grab a chip and let ’er fly! The men’s record (Greg Neumaier, 1991) is 248 feet. The women’s record (Terry Wallschlaeger, 2005) is 157 feet. Contact: (608) 643-4317 and www.wiscowchip.com.

Sept. 3-4


Dairyland Surf Classic

Surf City, here we come! Sheboygan, aka “The Malibu of the Midwest,” has hosted freshwater surfing events for 22 years. Surfing competition is Saturday and Sunday mornings with music, food and family festivities all week. Contact: (800) 689-0290 or www.visitsheboygan.com.

Sept. 17-19


Cheese Days

Held every two years, this amazing celebration features everything cheese and the rich Swiss heritage of Green County. Sample cheeses, hear Swiss Alphorns and bells, see a Swiss fashion show, join a cooking class and watch the huge parade (Sunday at 12:30 p.m.). What a great way to wrap up summer and get ready for the harvest season! Contact: (608) 325-7771 or www.cheesedays.com.

Gary Knowles is a Madison-based travel writer and author of The Great Wisconsin Touring Book: 30 Spectacular Auto Tours.


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