We all love Summerfest, but there are smaller festivals all over the state. Take a look to find one near you.
This summer, in-person performances are slowly returning to stages across Wisconsin, and that means music festivals are back after over a year on hiatus due to COVID-19.
We’re not just talking about Summerfest—and, boy, are we excited to see it return this year!—but also smaller festivals scattered around all corners of the Badger State.
Here are some other music festivals happening this summer:
Country Jam USA, Eau Claire, July 15-17
This weekend from Thursday to Saturday is Country Jam USA in Eau Claire. More than 20 acts are performing across three stages, including headliners Old Dominion, Chris Young, and Jon Pardi. Originally, Morgan Wallen was set to headline, but he canceled all of his scheduled performances in 2021 after he was caught on camera using a racial slur.
Country Jam USA has two different campgrounds for festival-goers to stay the night and enjoy music throughout the entire weekend. They also are still selling general admission and VIP day passes.
Rock Fest, Cadott, July 15-17
Just half an hour away from Eau Claire, Rock Fest in Cadott will be hosting over 60 performers this weekend as well. Korn, Rob Zombie, and Limp Bizkit are some of the headliners for the weekend. Food vendors are selling all sorts of cuisine from Mexican food to corn dogs and cheese curds. VIP and electric campsites are sold out, and there are only a few general campsites left for sale.
In addition to live music at the main stage, Rock Fest has a number of activities for people to watch or take part in. Festival-goers can watch a wrestling match, play with giant games, relax in the Hammock Haven, drink at the outdoor bars, listen to music at a side stage, and even get married or renew vows at the Chapel of Love.
Mile of Music, Appleton, Aug. 5-8
In 2019, 80,000 people visited Appleton’s annual Mile of Music Festival. On Aug. 5-8, the city will host over 100 up-and-coming artists for a weekend full of nearly all free performances. There are over 650 live music sets on the schedule across 40 indoor and outdoor festival spaces. Musical acts will range from indie to folk to bluegrass and more.
There are also a number of music education sessions throughout the weekend with activities like songwriting workshops or interactive drum circles. With the festival being right in downtown Appleton, visitors can walk along the main street and visit local restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and other small businesses.
Tall Tales, Burlington, Aug. 13-14
Tall Tales in downtown Burlington is another free music festival open to music lovers of all ages. On Aug. 13-14, festival-goers can listen to live music, and kids also have a variety of activities available. There are free music workshops put on by Burlington non-profit Music Matters, games, and art stations. Food and drink vendors are also on-site throughout the weekend.
Blue Ox Music Festival, Eau Claire, Aug. 19-21
Although tickets are selling quickly, Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire still has limited options for music lovers to attend the festival on Aug. 19-21. The lower tiers of the three-day and two-day admission tickets are sold out, but they still have more expensive options available for these tickets. There are also still Saturday general admission tickets and VIP packages for sale. Car camping is sold out, but limited RV/tent campsites are still open.
Performers include The Infamous Stringdusters, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Sam Bush Band, Shakey Graves, and more on the main stages. The festival also has two side stages for attendees to listen to music. The festival’s website describes the musical acts as bluegrass and Americana.
A host of activities besides live music are on-site for people to spend their time during the day. Blue Ox’s Soul Sanctuary is a wellness tent that will feature yoga sessions, sound healing, meditations, breathwork, reiki, and more. Musical instructors are also hosting instrument workshops for people to learn more about Bluegrass, Americana, Roots, and traditional string genres of music. The Potluck String Band is hosting campground jam sessions where attendees can bring their own instruments and play with fellow musicians. The Backwoods Stage, one of the side stages, hosts late night sets of music from midnight to 2 a.m. Other activities include a nine-hole disc golf course, food trucks and other vendors, art installations, and more.
Rock The Dock, Green Bay, Aug. 21
Rock The Dock is back from noon to 10 p.m. on Aug. 21 at CityDeck in Green Bay. Although the festival is free to attend, it is also a fundraiser for Compassionate Home Health Care. Attendees are invited to bring donations of personal care items or cleaning supplies for community members
The three stages offer rock, classic rock, rockabilly, acoustic, and country music. Various food stands, beer and wine tents, and other vendors will line the deck for people to spend their time.
Summer Sounds, Cedarburg, July 2-Sep. 10
Cedarburg’s weekly summer concert series, Summer Sounds, was pushed to start at the beginning of July so attendees had more time to get vaccinated before they gathered at Cedar Creek Park. On Fridays from July 2 to Sept. 10 (aside from Aug. 27), an opener and a main act will be performing from around 6:30-10 p.m.
The concert series is free to attend, but local vendors offer food and beverages for the audience to purchase. Blue Cow Creperie, Falafel Guys, Romano’s Pizzeria, That Taco Guy, and Robert’s Frozen Custard are just some of the vendors spread throughout the park area.
In regular years, Summer Sounds sees an average of 3,000 people in attendance.
Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, June 18-Sep. 17
Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield is celebrating its 35th anniversary with a summer full of live performances. The tent opened June 18 and will host performances into the fall until Sep. 17.
Various performers are coming to Big Top, including musicians KT Tunstall, Wynonna Judd & The Big Noise, and Colin Hay; Trinity Irish Dancers; and comedians Charlie Berens (the creator of Manitowoc Minute) and Paula Poundstone. The resident Blue Canvas Orchestra is also performing throughout the season.
Local vocalists are invited to compete every year in Big Top Idol. This year, the final competition will be on Aug. 22. Big Top Chautauqua held auditions virtually this year. Participants 13 and under will compete for the title of Junior Idol, and everyone 14 and older will vie for the title of Big Top Idol. Both categories of the competition have cash prizes.
The Bluegrass Day Camp for Kids this summer is Aug. 9-11 for ages 7-17. The Blue Canvas Orchestra will host lessons for playing guitar, banjo, fiddle, bass, or mandolin, as well as working on singing and playing music in a group.
Mount Ashwabay owns and operates the Ashwabay Bar and Grill with burgers, ice cream, cocktails, or beers at the Big Top tent.