City of Festivals: Exploring Milwaukee’s Fests

Get ready to have fun at what Milwaukee is best known for: festivals! The City of Festivals – as Milwaukee has been nicknamed – may have already said “hello” and “goodbye” to Summerfest and Bastille Days, but the long list of events continues! To get a better idea of what the rest of the summer has to offer, we’ve compiled a list of “the best fests.” Read on to learn more about each festival! What kind of fun is in store for you and your family? Let’s find out!

JB’s picks for the best fests in the city of festivals

Festa Italiana – July 22-24

Beginning in 1978 as the first ethnic festival in Milwaukee, Festa Italiana is now the largest Italian-American festival in the country and features Italian music, food, and entertainment. Some of the shows and activities you will have to check out include:

The Flag-Throwers of the Florentine—Based on the custom of flag-throwers of medieval Italy, this group of performers—direct from Italy—will showcase traditional formations, music, and exercises guided by the rhythm of drums.

Italian Idol—For over a decade, talented singers have been competing for fame and cash prices right here in Milwaukee, the city of festivals. Registration and song selection will begin Friday, July 22, so if you think you have what it takes, stop by and sing a tune for the judges. If you’d rather just enjoy others’ singing, that’s appreciated, too!

Cannoli-eating contest—While there will be plenty of traditional Italian dishes for you to enjoy, why not include a show or competition with your food? Anyone is invited to participate in the cannoli-eating contest, and everyone is invited to watch and cheer on the contestants!

German Fest – July 29-31

Get your Deutsch on at Milwaukee’s premier German ethnic festival and the kickoff to Wisconsin’s Oktoberfest Season. There’s something for everyone at German Fest, so stop by some of these highlights:

Battle of the Mascots—Mascots from all over the Milwaukee area will participate in a one-of-a-kind soccer game. Kids, catch the action and get a picture with some of the mascots!

Dachshund Derby—The 11th annual derby begins at 1:05 PM on Sunday, July 31 with the blessing of the dachshunds, followed by the race and ribbon ceremony. These dogs may be cute, but they’re also fast—so check out the show!

Music—Check out this year’s bands, singers, and dancers because you won’t be disappointed! You get to choose from authentic German singing and yodeling, bands featuring traditional German dance music like polkas and waltzes, and a large brass band—to name a few. Grammy nominated musician and producer, Alex Meixner, will also be back to perform everything from polkas to jazz and pop pieces!

Wisconsin State Fair – August 4-14

No list of the city of festivals would be complete without the Wisconsin State Fair! Celebrate the 165th anniversary of the State Fair by enjoying Wisconsin’s best food, drinks, shopping, rides, and live music. Even though there’s a ton to choose from, here are a few highlights:

The food—With over 200 concession locations, foods you love and new chow to try will not be in short supply. Some of the highlights include: the Original Cream Puff, deep fried maple bacon cookie dough, and plenty of deep fried and/or bacon selections. We’re not kidding about the amount of food that will be there, so check out the full list of new foods here.

The Kohl’s Activity Zone—If you want activities that are tailored to families, this is where you want to be. An added bonus—the area will open an hour earlier each day at 9 AM! So get over to the Activity Zone and watch a conservation-themed theatrical performance or join in on an art-making experience presented by the Milwaukee Art Museum.

See the headliners—This year, the State Fair will host a number of the music industry’s top performers, including Shawn Mendes, Rascal Flatts, and the Beach Boys.

Irish Fest – August 18-21

The world’s largest celebration of Celtic music and culture showcases more than 100 entertainment acts on 17 stages. To join in on the celebration, check out these must-sees and must-dos:

Baking contest—Even if you’re an amateur baker, try this! The winner will get an overnight stay for two at Chateau DePere in DePere, WI. Furthermore, all contestants will receive a free set of measuring spoons. The food categories include many traditional Irish foods including soda breads, muffins, biscuits and scones.

5k—The Arthritis Foundation’s Run/Walk to Irish Fest is a fun way to start the festival. Enjoy a scenic route along the lakefront all the way to festival grounds. Once you finish the race, 21+ racers enjoy free Sprecher beer!

Irish dance—Be amazed at the outrageously rapid leg and foot movements from some of the best performers in the area and from abroad! If you’re feeling inspired by all of the talent, then stop in to the Dance Pavilion and enjoy dance lessons.

Mexican Fiesta – August 26-28

For three days, life’s a fiesta at this annual festival. (One could argue that it’s always a fiesta in Milwaukee, the city of festivals). Check out the fun, food, and Mariachi! Everyone is invited to this party, so come one or all three days and enjoy some laughs with old and new friends and family. Make sure to check out:

Mestizo Gold Tournament—Golf for a cause on Sunday, August 14 at Whitnall Park Golf Course. The proceeds of this tournament will go toward scholarships presented by the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, Inc. By participating, they will then give you two free festival tickets, refreshments after, trophies and door prizes! Start your fiesta and sign up for the tournament here.

Dance contest—Move to the music with Merengue and Salsa rhythms and show the judges what you have! The contest takes place Friday, August 26, so start off the festival with some competition and excitement.

Traditional costume contest—Learn more about Mexican culture and witness an explosion of color in a display of authentic costumes. Children 1-11 years old are invited to participate but all are invited to witness the pageantry!

Need a break from the city of festivals? It’s always a party at JB’s on 41!

The Great Summer Extravaganza – We are giving away over $1500 in Brewers tickets this summer, and we want you to win! There are many ways to win… bowl a strike, enjoy happy hour in the Junction, and play in a volleyball or bowling league. Win a pair (or four, for happy hour winners) and have a ball with bowling and baseball, together at last! Check out the winners here.

Summer VIP Program – Calling all party people! Join the summer club! Then enjoy exclusive access to ½ off arcade games, ½ off appetizers, and food and drink deals. Also get holiday and birthday bonuses, 10% cashback on all purchases, and much more. Valued at $150, get it now for $25 by clicking here.

Host a Birthday Party – Summer can be sticky hot, so beat the heat with a birthday bash. All inclusive kids’ birthday parties include a party host to take care of all your needs, goody bags, and of course entertainment and food. Learn more about kids’ parties here. Host a Yolo party for teens and adults. Yolo parties feature 2 hours of bowling, pizza or wings, and soda or domestic beer, plus arcade cards. Book a Yolo party in Suite 41 now.

Milwaukee certainly offers much this summer, so get out there and enjoy the city of festivals in all its glory! What’s your favorite Milwaukee special custom? Let us know in the comments!