Travel Wisconsin: Summer activities throughout the Badger State

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This year at the EAA AirVenture, in Oshkosh, more than 10,000 planes from around the world will be on display.| By Gary Knowles

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Fill this summer with unforgettable events. Choose a few, try something new, get out of the house and expect a good time. Summer is ahead, and the heat is on.


Automotion Festival

May 19-20. Wisconsin Dells

Noah’s Ark Waterpark

1411 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy.

(800) 223-3557.

Chrome, fins, fender skirts, pony cars, land yachts, street rods and hundreds smokin’ hot classic cars will get auto lovers hearts pounding in the Wisconsin Dells. Automotion 2012 features a swap meet, car corral, evening car cruise, raffle and plenty of fun. Admission is free.

World’s Largest Brat Fest

May 25-28. Madison

(608) 236-2042.

Last year, festival goers consumed 209,376 of the savory sausages. This year, they want more. Grab a brat, or two, maybe three. Listen to great music, and celebrate the beginning of summer. Free admission.

Chocolate Fest

May 25-28. Burlington

(262) 763-3300.

Sweeten up a bit, and join some 35,000 fellow chocolate lovers for a weekend of fun, games, cooking demonstrations and heaps of delicious chocolate. Enter the chocolate eating contests, O-Lympics, Choco Minute-to-Win-It or Man vs. Chocolate. Enjoy a tasty truffle as you think it over.


GuitarTown Waukesha presents Les Paul’s Birthday Party

June 1. Waukesha

(262) 542-0330.

Waukesha is the birthplace of guitar legend Les Paul. On June 1, the town will be honored as a Gibson Guitar GuitarTown. Waukesha will unveil 10-foot tall fiberglass model Gibson Les Paul guitars and exhibit a series of regular size guitars designed by local and nationally acclaimed artists. The celebration, dubbed, Les Paul’s Birthday Party, is the kick-off of Waukesha’s Freeman Friday Night Live music series held from 6:30 – 9 p.m. every Friday night from June to October in downtown Waukesha.

Free Fishing Weekend

June 2-3. Wisconsin statewide

(608) 266-2621.

Warn the worms. Call the crappies. Tell the trout. Two glorious days of free fishing. You don’t need a license to fish in any Wisconsin waters.

Outta Sight Kite Flight

June 2-3. Kenosha

(262) 653-4177.

Your spirits will soar as you see the grand launch of more than 300 kites. Kite experts present flying demonstrations and professionals demonstrate stunt kite tricks. Take a kite-flying lesson and make your own.

U.S. Balloon Championships and Monroe Balloon Rally

June 9-12 and 15-16. Monroe

(608) 558-0000.

Balloons are filling the sky over Swiss Cheese Country. Monroe welcomes the U.S. Balloon Championships, June 9-12, and the 28th annual Father’s Day Weekend Balloon Rally, June 15-16. The championships feature world champion balloonists competing to reach GPS coordinates around Monroe. The Monroe Balloon Rally launches on Friday with Nite Lite as 25 hot-air balloons light the night sky. The festival includes music, vendors (yes, cheese and beer) and even optional rides.


June 27-July 1 and July 3- 8. Milwaukee

(414) 273-2680.

Aerosmith, Neil Diamond, The Zac Brown Band, The Beach Boys, Iron Maiden, Kelly Clarkson and Train are just a few of the headliners coming to Milwaukee for the world’s largest music festival this summer. Summerfest attracts the music industry’s hottest stars, emerging talent and local favorites. Grab a cool drink, relax on the Lake Michigan shore and let the music in.


U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship

July 2-8. Kohler

(920) 453-2889.

Returning to the site of one of the most thrilling contests in its history, The U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship comes to the Pete Dye designed Blackwolf Run. In 1998, future Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak won a thrilling sudden-death playoff over unheralded amateur, Jenny Chuasiriporn. This year the championship golf experience will be enhanced with a complimentary John Philip Sousa outdoor concert, fireworks and Americana-themed festivities celebrating Kohler Village’s Centennial. Fans 17 and under are free with a paid adult.

The Hawk at Road America – Vintage Races with Brian Redman

July 12-15. Elkhart Lake/Road America

(800) 365-7223

Featuring Lola T-70s and historic Can-Am Racing machines this race series is one of the largest vintage gatherings in the United States. Ferraris, Porsches, Corvettes, Mustangs, Alphas and dozens of rare and exotic cars are featured in evening Concours d Elegance on the streets of Elkhart Lake.

Art Fair on the Square

July 14-15. Madison

(608) 257-0158

More than 450 top artists from across the United States surround Wisconsin’s Capitol for one of the largest and most popular juried art fairs in the Midwest. Live music, dance and international food vendors make this event a symphony for the senses.

EAA AirVenture

July 23-29. Oshkosh

(920) 426-4800

Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh is the home of the world’s largest annual aviation event.

More than 10,000 planes from around the world are on display. This year’s celebration features a Steve Miller Band Concert on July 23, a salute to veterans on July 27, commemoration of Dolittle’s Raiders, Tuskegee Airmen and “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” an aerial re-enactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor. EAA presents more than 500 forums and workshops as well as spectacular daily air shows.

Traveler’s note: Always check for schedule or weather changes before driving to events. For even more events visit, or