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Festivals and family events in Wisconsin

Midwest family fun

As the home of Milwaukee, the “City of Festivals,” it’s no wonder that Wisconsin has some incredible festivals and events perfect for families of any age. Whether you’re a fan of music, carnivals, food, world culture or even pirates, the Dairy State has an event celebrating your kind of family fun.

Wisconsin State Fair

Summerfest

Milwaukee's world-famous 11-day music festival isn't specifically designed for families, and some of the headliner concerts put on by famous rock bands and pop stars are definitely not recommended for the younger set. However, Summerfest can still be enjoyed by music lovers of all ages, especially on weekdays. During the week, before the evening headliner shows begin, Summerfest is a child's playground with family-friendly music, children's performers, a children's play area, exciting amusement park rides and plenty of carnival-style food. Parents, take note that large bags and backpacks, wagons and outside food are not permitted, so plan ahead or come prepared to spend on more than admission.

Location: The Henry W. Maier Festival Park, 200 North Harbour Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Rates: Weekday admission for adults and children 10+ is $7, children 10 and under are $4, infants (2 & under) are free; General admission after 4 p.m. or on weekends is $16

Website: Summerfest.com

Wisconsin State Fair

Fair food, amusement park rides, farm animals, carnival games — the Wisconsin State Fair is a smorgasbord of family entertainment. Kids will love playing at the fair's kiddie kingdom and learning all about Wisconsin's rich agricultural heritage through the many farm and animal exhibits. And don't forget to get yourself one of the fair's world-famous cream puffs — they're only available 11 days out of the year!

Location: Wisconsin State Fair Park, 640 South 84th Street, West Allis, WI 53214

Rates: Tickets at the gate are $9 for adults (12 & over), $5 for youth (ages 6-11), and free for children (5 & under).

Website: WIStateFair.com

Warrens Cranberry Festival

Cranberry fan? Then the Warrens Cranberry Festival is a must for your family. Hosting an art fair and vendors selling all things cranberry, the festival's most exciting attraction is the cranberry marsh, which can be toured from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday for just $6 per person. Tours sell out quickly, so be sure to get your family's tickets early. Aside from shopping, the festival also runs dozens of fun contests, from vegetables and videos to recipes and needlework — join in on the fun or just enjoy checking out the winners. And don't forget to come back for the big cranberry parade on Sunday!

Location: Warrens Festival Grounds, 402 Pine Street, Warrens, WI 54666

Rates: Free!

Website: CranFest.com

EAA AirVenture

There's no event better to introduce your family to the fascinating world of aviation than the EAA AirVenture festival. Aircraft enthusiasts from all over the world gather in Oshkosh every summer at this, the world's greatest aviation celebration, to show off their planes — both vintage and modern. Plus there are daily air shows every afternoon! Sunday's the best day to come for families, as students ages 6-18 are free when accompanied by an adult (student admission is normally $21).

Location: EAA Airventure, 3000 Poberezny Road, Oshkosh, WI 54902

Rates: Adults are $41 for 1-day admission, students age 6-18 $21 for 1-day admission, children age 5 & under free. (Reduced rates available with a $50 annual family membership to the EAA — Experimental Aircraft Association.)

Website: AirVenture.org

Lumberjack World Championships

Treat your family to an experience that recalls the great old American folk tales of Paul Bunyan and the like with a visit to the Lumberjack World Championships. The 3-day event pits the world's best lumberjacks against one another in speed sawing, speed tree climbing, logrolling and chopping events. In between events, check out demonstrations in saw carving or even try pole climbing and logrolling yourself!

Location: Lumberjack World Championships, 15670 W County Rd B, Hayward, WI 54843

Rates: Ticket prices vary between $14-20 for adults and $12-18 for children ages 5-12 depending on the day and seating preference, or you can purchase 3-day passes for the entire competition for $48 for adults and $43 for kids ages 5-12.

Website: LumberjackWorldChampionships.com

Bayfield Apple Festival

A is for apple... and all-ages fun at the Bayfield Apple Festival. Voted as the Best Festival in Wisconsin and one of the Top Ten Autumn Festivals in North America by the Society of American Travel Writers, this Wisconsin apple festival is sure to please. Fill up on caramel apples, apple pies, apple tortes, dumplings or tarts, apple sundaes, apple cider, bags and bushels of apples — even apple bratwurst, mustard and butter. Aside from all things apple, your kids will love the carnival rides, games, dances, apple peeling contests, music and of course the glistening evening parade of light-decorated boats in the Venetian Boat Parade.

Location: Downtown Bayfield, Bayfield, WI 54814

Rates: Free!

Website: Bayfield.org

Port Washington Pirate Festival

Yo ho ho and a bottle of fun! The Port Washington Pirate Festival is a treasure trove of family fun of the pirate-y kind. While you'll love stuffing your gut with grub and grog at Gruel Alley, or picking up pirate booty at the Thieves Marketplace, your kids will love the sword fighters, storytellers, sideshow acts, magicians and sea shanty singers. For just $10, you can sign up kids (of all ages) for a Breakfast with the Pirates, or get a group together and learn a little sailing and Great Lakes Lore on a pirate cruise.

Location: 200 East Main Street, Port Washington, WI 53074

Rates: Admission is free! (Some events held at the festival do require a fee)

Website: PortPirateFestival.com

Image courtesy of Wisconsin State Fair
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