Since 1851, the Wisconsin State Fair has annually showcased the state's finest resources, stuffed fairgoers with an aromatic selection of world-class foods, and entertained guests with live bands and terrifying tractor flyovers. In between hot-stepping to the Steve Meisner Polka Band on August 9 and singing along to "Cracklin' Rosie" with Eric Ebert's Tribute to Neil Diamond on August 11, fair browsers will get their choice of day to frolic manfully among a ton of food stalls, games, thrill rides, outdoor events, interactive activities, and competitions. If your trio of the fair's famous cream puffs—whose airy creaminess is just as legendary in this reality as it is in alternate realities where Wisconsin won the Civil War—doesn't fill you up completely, test your gut's maximum occupancy with August 9's brat-eating contest (4 p.m.), which is best washed down beforehand with the root-beer-float-drinking contest (3 p.m.). Kids, meanwhile, can plummet down the fair's 200-foot giant slide, take splatter-art to messy new places at the Kohl's Color Wheel, or watch the state's fastest pigs race for the coveted frosted oatmeal cookie.
German Fest is a celebration of culture through food and drink, live entertainment, and all kinds of family fun and shenanigans. Use your voucher toward bratwurst, gulasch, dumplings, potato pancakes, pork chops, desserts, and more. To wash down these hearty helpings, head to the beer garden at the north end of the grounds. On the south end of the fest, there is a carnival with games and rides.
During Milwaukee Winter Fest, visitors of all ages can shake the snow from their sleeves inside a climate-controlled facility filled with festive lights and colorful decorations. There they can play in more than 50 attractions including inflated fun zones, carnival rides, and a 240-foot indoor zipline. Singers and musical acts take to the stage during scheduled events to inspire impromptu dance parties and prove once and for all that guitars can be used for more than just housing herb gardens.
Seasoned boat captains and crustacean prospectors Sig Hansen, Johnathan Hillstrand, and Andy Hillstrand gather to share with audience members their tales of struggle and survival during crab season on the high seas, as partly documented by the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. Fishing the Bering Sea in the middle of winter demands strong wills—which can come together in times of treacherous weather and 100-foot waves or come to blows about who performs better in the three-legged crabwalk race. Selected audience members will also have the chance to don the survival suits from the Time Bandit. Following the story-swapping and previously unreleased video footage, greenhorns and avid fans will have the opportunity to launch questions at the captains, wave giant foam claws, and learn how to communicate in claw-snap Morse code.
In the Lower Halls of St. Paul's Catholic Church, revelers toast to the holiday season at the Holiday Beer Tasting. The event's name belies its eclectic and huge selection: more than 100 craft beers, ciders, and imports. While it might be tough to taste them all in one night without sprouting a second mouth, one lucky person won't have to. At the end of the night is a drawing where the winner will take home a "Wheelbarrow of Beer" prize, consisting of a wheelbarrow's worth of samples—one of each of the festival's brews.
At the annual Das Oktoberfest block party, friends and families converse over brats, hot dogs, and drinks with the peace of mind that proceeds benefit Hunger Task Force. Festival-goers gather in the Mader's parking lot at 11 a.m. for the kid-friendly, pet-friendly Brat Trot, where competitors don complimentary Oktoberfest hats before beginning the race. Trot participants then ring in the festival with a grueling 1.5-block walk, run, or ride on a giant Slinky to Pere Marquette Park. Each attendee makes the trek with a complimentary 12-ounce Oktoberfest beer or soda in one hand, accompanying a free Usinger brat or hot dog in the other. Once at the park, participants partake in a communal jubilee. Prior to the race, athletes can also compete for prizes in a contest for best costumed individual and team, or duke it out in a pig Latin spelling bee.