The A.V. Club’s fall festival guide
Travel around Wisconsin this fall nibbling the season’s bounty of apples, cranberries, and pumpkins
Wrapping up in a thick sweater, sipping spiced cider, and eating apple cobbler at a fall festival makes the end of summer—which comes officially this week—not quite so painful. The A.V. Club just dusted off our wool peacoat and we’re ready to party down with some pumpkins. We’ve rounded up some great events around the state to help you give the pleasant weather one last hurrah. We can almost hear a crackling bonfire and smell the aroma of nutmeg and clove already.
Wine And Harvest Festival, Cedarburg, September 19-20
Start close to home and stuff your face with a ton of end-of-summer flavors like caramel apples, kettle corn, and apple cider on the streets of cute and historic downtown Cedarburg. The Great Pumpkin Charity Regatta features people in hollowed-out pumpkins racing across Cedar Creek; a scarecrow sculpture garden, hayrides, and pumpkin painting are also on the schedule. Cedar Creek Winery mans a booth with glasses of wine at the ready to warm you up.
Warrens Cranberry Festival, Warrens, September 25-27
The harvest of the state’s top fruit crop is celebrated each fall in north central Wisconsin, where the largest concentration of cranberry bogs turn into crimson-dotted eye candy this time of year. No surprise, it’s billed as the world’s largest cranberry festival. You can tour the marshes, shop, or watch one of the state’s longest parades, but the best part is all that fresh cranberry goodness. Get pancakes topped with cranberry syrup in the morning, cranberry fritters in the afternoon, and cranberry cream puffs or ice cream for dessert.
Bayfield Apple Festival, Bayfield, October 2-4
Way, way up north along Lake Superior sits the charming resort town of Bayfield, where the popular Bayfield Apple Festival draws about 50,000 people each autumn. More than 45 apple orchards from the area sell the fruit and its many delicacies throughout the festival. What’s more, there’s a Venetian boat parade, a fish boil, comedy acts, an art fair, and a 90-minute production of Shakespeare’s complete works. And yes, all the apple pie and cider you can muster.
Nekoosa Giant Pumpkin Fest, Nekoosa, October 3-4
While this northern Wisconsin festival focuses on pumpkins that weigh a ton (or close to it, as last year’s weigh-in winner tipped the scales at more than 1,300 pounds), pumpkin carving, and other fun with pumpkins, there’s also an antique tractor show, a lumberjack demonstration, and a flea market. This one has a pumpkin regatta like Cedarburg’s festival, but participants race those hollowed gourds down the rushing Wisconsin River.