Sure, we’re known for beer and cheese, but Wisconsin celebrates a lot more than that—savor the state’s best sips and bites at these fall and winter celebrations.
Beer & Spirits Festival, Lake Geneva
Running nine years strong, this beer tasting festival is always near Halloween, so expect to see festival-goers donning costumes and having a spooky good time. Thirty-five Midwest craft brewers and distillers will be on hand—so expect to taste suds and sips from Milwaukee-based Mob Craft Beer, Madison-located One Barrel Brewing Company and Lake Geneva’s Lake Geneva Brewing Co. This year’s festival is on October 27.
Fermentation Fest, Reedsburg
Billing itself as “an annual celebration of live culture in all its forms, from dance to yogurt, poetry to sauerkraut” this festival (taking place October 5-14) is an eclectic mix of art events, demonstrations, cooking classes and more. Partially academic (presentations span from talks on Native American medicines and foods to the future of farming in Wisconsin) to just plain fun (kombucha and home brewing, pretzel and cheesemaking, vegetable fermentation and more), pretty much anyone can find something that interests them here. Don’t miss the Farm/Art Dtour that’s 50-plus miles of free art installations, roadside poetry, performances and local food.
Green County Cheese Days, Monroe
Held every two years in even years (this year is September 14-16), this highly anticipated fest celebrates fromage in all of its glory. After all, the county is home to a dozen creameries including Edelweiss Creamery, Chalet Cheese Co-op and Emmi Roth USA. (The latter consistently wins international and national awards and offers tours of their Alp and Dell Cheese Store in Monroe, too). Listen to live entertainment, watch the parades, run in the Cheese Days Chase (5K or 10K), shop for arts and crafts and, oh yeah—taste cheese.
Isthmus Beer & Cheese, Madison
Pretty much an unbeatable combination, this celebration allows you to taste-test craft brews from an astounding 100-plus brewers from around the U.S., from small (Funk Factory Geuzeria) to large (Sierra Nevada). And what better to pair said beer with than a nibble of cheese from 15-plus cheesemakers, including multiple award-winner Roth Cheese? Listen to tunes while you savor the warmth of indoors during the January 19, 2019, party.
Kohler Food & Wine Experience, Kohler
One of the state’s most indulgent food celebrations, this fourday extravaganza (October 18-21) features celebrity chefs, cocktails, tastings, culinary seminars and parties—all held throughout the idyllic Destination Kohler. Midwest chefs hold court alongside major international players, like Marcus Samuelsson and Fabio Viviani, for presentations. There’s no shortage of fun talks and demonstrations, including pairing rosé and beer can chicken, matching up whiskey and chocolate, and how to select cheeses to go with chocolates. Learn about gnocchi-making, partake in tons of wine tastings and learn about coffee cocktails—it’s all here. Each event requires a separate ticket; see the website for details.
Warrens Cranberry Festival, Warrens
When the last weekend in September rolls around, get ready for a celebration of the state’s fruit (with lots of known health benefits!) at this fun fest on September 28-30. There’s three miles (!) of shopping here, a huge Sunday parade, marsh tours—even “Cranberry Royalty” contestants that extoll the virtues of cranberries. Oh, and did we mention the food? Cranberries Jubilee, pancakes with cranberry syrup, cranberry cream puffs and even deep-fried cranberries on a stick all make an appearance.
Wine & Harvest Festival, Cedarburg
For almost 50 years, this celebration kicks off fall (this year on September 15-16) with great food (harvest apple brats, cranberry turkey wraps, gyros, grilled corn), the wines of hometown winery Cedar Creek Winery and The Fermentorium craft brews (also made locally). There’s more than just food and wine here though—see more than 250 juried artists in Art on the Avenue, check out the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off, participate in Cedar Creek Winery’s Grape Stomp, listen to live music and shop in the marketplace.
This article originally appeared in the 2018 fall/winter issue of Experience Wisconsin magazine. The contents of this article were checked for accuracy when it was published; however, it’s possible some of the information has changed. We recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the destinations, attractions or restaurants mentioned in this article.
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