7 Wisconsin Fall Festivals You (Probably) Haven’t Experienced (But Should)

(Photo via FreeImages)

By Fiona Hatch

August 16, 2023

Summer’s almost over, but don’t be sad: Falling into Wisconsin’s most beautiful season is nothing but fun at these festivals!

Is it just us, or did this summer really fly by? Cooler temperatures and changing colors are right around the corner, and that means a jam-packed calendar of fall festivals is too!

Here are 7 of our favorites that don’t nearly get the hype they deserve:

Wine and Harvest Festival

Cedarburg, September 16-17

Cedarburg is preparing to host its 50th annual Wine and Harvest Festival this fall! Make sure to stop by the local vendors for unbeatable food and drink options before you head over to the Pumpkin Regatta (a hilarious pumpkin race on water) or the Cedar Creek Winery Grape Stomp (a festival favorite, with both kid and adult competitions.)

Harvest Fair

Milwaukee, September 29-October 1

One million people visit Wisconsin’s State Fair Park every summer, but you’ll want to consider returning the following month for Harvest Fair, one of the state’s biggest fall festivals. With music from local artists, lumberjack shows, pumpkin bowling, and a “make-your-own scarecrow” booth, Harvest Fair is a great alternative to your traditional pumpkin farm. Plus, admission is free!

Bayfield Apple Festival

Bayfield, October 6-8

Bayfield Apple Festivals is one of “Wisconsin’s Best Festivals” according to Wisconsin Trails Magazine–and for good reason! Bayfield brings autumn to life, with themed parades, apple orchards, and a live orchestra on-site. Kids enjoy the Spectrum Carnival, and don’t miss the crowning of the new Apple Festival Queen and/or King at the end of the weekend!

RELATED: Your Guide to Fall in Milwaukee

Pumpkin Patch Festival

Egg Harbor, October 7-8

Egg Harbor’s Pumpkin Patch Festival is a fan favorite in Door County–boasting a wide variety of activities, like live music, face painting, magic shows, arts and crafts vendors, and a bucket raffle. True to its name, the pumpkin patch and scarecrow displays are some of Wisconsin’s very best. With free admission and a prime selection of Door County’s best food vendors, this festival is one the whole family will enjoy.

Family Fall Fest

Madeline Island, October 21

Fall is arguably the best time to visit Madeline Island, and the third weekend in October is always the Family Fall Fest, a time for families to take advantage of the last good weather of the season and soak in the vivid fall colors. Many of the free events are hands-on, like pumpkin decorating, birdhouse-building, candle-making, and tie-dying. While you’re there, make sure to try the Wapple–a local delicacy that’s part waffle, part apple-caramel cheesecake!

Jack O’ Lantern Days

Fish Creek, October 27-28

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly destination to celebrate Hallo-weekend, northeastern Wisconsin is the place to go! Jack O’ Lantern Days puts the “eek” in “Fish Creek,” organizers like to say, with a costume parade, costume contests, carnival games, and even a haunted trail (a hair-raising ⅛-mile walk through trails and bridges at dusk.

MORE: Travel Wisconsin’s Fall Colors Report–When Will Trees Peak in Your Area?

Oktoberfest

Multiple Locations, September & October

And finally, this one you’ve probably heard of, but you can’t possibly have checked all 15 of Wisconsin’s Oktoberfests off your list… can you? While the iconic festival originates in Munich, Germany, it’s become a staple for Wisconsin and its heavily German ancestry. Be prepared to listen to traditional Bavarian music, sample local cuisine, and (if you’re 21) enjoy some authentic German beer! Our personal favorite local Oktoberfests are Elkhorn, Waunakee, Appleton, and New Glarus. (But make sure to check the dates for each; they don’t all run at the same time.)

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