Ah, fall in Wisconsin! The days are getting shorter, the air is crisper, and the leaves are beginning to change to hues of red, yellow, and orange. It’s time to go apple picking or search the pumpkin patches for a gourd that will make the perfect Jack-o-lantern for your front porch. There are many Fall festivals in Madison and the surrounding communities for you to really celebrate the season.
Sept 15 – 17
Waunakee’s annual German fall celebration features live music, pumpkin decorating, family fun activities and more. Do you have an iron stomach? Then sign up for either the eating contests for Limburger cheese and sauerkraut. Or start your Sunday out right with Beer Yoga. The festivities will be held at the Endres Manufacturing grounds at 802 S. Century Ave., in Waunakee.
Gemuetlichkeit Days – Jefferson
Jefferson celebrates its German heritage with its annual Gemuetlichkeit Days community festival. Most of the festival is held at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, at 503 N. Jackson Ave., in Jefferson. The event features German polka music, an ethnic costume contest, a vintage car show, euchre tournament, Big Wheel races, a parade, polka hop lessons, and more. Plus, there will be lots of bier!
Saturday, Sept. 16
Every day is Oktoberfest at Essen Haus, Madison’s traditional German restaurant. But the Essen Haus still throws an annual Oktoberfest celebration full of fun, live musc, food, and bier. The festivities are held in the restaurant parking lot at 514 East Wilson Street, Madison.
Saturday, Sept. 16
Urban Triage will hold its second annual Urban Harvest Festival on Saturday, Sept. 16 from 2 – 8 p.m. at the Farley Center for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability in Verona. The theme for this year’s event is “Wild Wild West,” and it features aerial performers, stilt walkers, hay rides, African drummers, children’s activities, live music, a bouncy house, Children’s Museum activity center, and more. There will also be FREE food, wine, and beer.
Sunday, Sept. 17
The Deerfield Apple Fest is held 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Bittersweet Blessings Farm at 4509 Hwy. 73 in Deerfield. Admission is $5, and kids age 12 and under get in for FREE. The event features live music, a petting zoo, face painting, pony and camel rides, a pie-eating contest, and more.
Sept. 21 – 24
One of the best Fall celebrations in the Madison area (in our opinion) is the New Glarus Oktoberfest held in downtown “Swiss Town.” This FREE event kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 21, with Dirndl Day, where you’re encouraged to wear traditional German dirndls and lederhosen and dance to Polka music. Over the weekend, there is live music, a beer tent, food stands, craft vendors, and FREE horse-drawn wagon rides through town.
Saturday, Sept. 23
If you haven’t been to downtown Beloit, you should definitely check it out. The city’s annual Oktoberfest event helps raise funds for the downtown revitalization efforts. Admission is $10 and kids age 13 and under are FREE. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. and features live music, axe throwing, hammerschlagen, a beer tent, and a beer stein holding contest.
Saturday, Sept. 30
CASA of Rock County is holding its 3rd annual Fall Festival from noon to 10 p.m. at The Barn on the Prairie, 5828 S. County Rd. G in Janesville. The admission cost is $20 ($15 for early bird tickets), and it’s FREE for children 12 and under. Proceeds from the event support CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). The event features kids’ activities, a costume dance party, a bags tournament, a corn pit, food trucks, and live music with Madison favorite Cherry Pie playing at 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 – Oct. 1
Stroll along Main Street in Mount Horeb’s historic downtown and shop for handmade, vintage, and upcycled items from various vendors at the Fall Village Market. Besides the numerous vendor booths selling items and food vendors, there will be live music on both Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday, Oct. 1
The Linda and Gene Farley Center for Peace, Justice & Sustainability will hold its Fall Festival from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. You’re invited to pick apples, press them in a 180-year-old cider press to make cider and take tours of the Natural Path Sanctuary, farm, and bee hives. Fresh, organic vegetables and honey will be available for purchase. The event also features live music and food carts.
Saturday, Sept. 30
Variety – The Children’s Charity of Wisconsin and Aspire Therapy are hosting the second annual Inclusive Fall Festival on Saturday, Sept. 20, from noon to 2 p.m. at Elver Park. The event is geared toward children who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, their families, and people of all abilities. There will be carnival games, sensory activities, interactive how-to stations, and more.
Friday, Oct. 6
Children and their families are invited to enjoy fun nature activities at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center’s Fall Fest on Friday, Oct. 6, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. This FREE event features science experiments, a boneyard treasure hunt, a costume parade, nighttime nature bingo, a campfire, and a night hike along lit trails in Basswood Forest. Attendees are encouraged to bring flashlights. Parking will be at Ahuska Park, and a free shuttle will provide transportation to the nature center.
Oct. 6 – 7
The Verona Fall Fest kicks off with a Family Night on Friday, Oct. 6, from 4 – 9 p.m. with kids’ games, a petting zoo, hay rides, a magic show, a bonfire and a movie under the stars. Then it’s time for some adult fun on Saturday, Oct. 7, with a Badger tailgate party in Verona. That day’s events include ax throwing, beer pong, corn hole game, mechanical bull, music by the Zac Matthews Bands, and a third-quarter “Football Fling” after the Jump Around.
Saturday, Oct. 7
The Harvest Festival is happening on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 4 – 7 p.m. at Lake Ripley Park in Cambridge. The fall-themed event features hayrides, a haunted walk, pumpkin patches, food, games, and more. The event costs $5 for children. Adults get in free with a paid child admission. You can register for the event here.
Sunday, Oct. 8
Celebrate fall in the quaint artist community of Paoli at the Paoli Fall Fest on Sunday, Oct. 8 at 11 a.m. There will be live music, artist demonstrations, a wine and cheese tasting, a chili cookoff, a bags tournament, hayrides, and more. The event is sponsored by the Paoli Merchant Association.
Saturday, Oct. 14 (CANCELED!!)
The Monona Fall Festival will be held at Winnequah Park on Saturday, Oct. 14. This one-day event features an 8K/5K/2K run/ walk, arts and crafts, outdoor pie competition, bake sale, and family fun activities. FREE attractions include a petting zoo, bouncy pony hop races, hay bale mound, corn bin, and pumpkin bowling.
Saturday, Oct. 14
Downtown Sun Prairie will hold its annual Fall Fun event on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. The event features Sun Prairie’s weekly farmer’s market, horse-drawn wagon rides, live music, pumpkin picking, a scarecrow contest, pie baking contest and more.
Saturday, Oct. 28
During the last outdoor farmers market in Janesville for the year, area children are invited to come trick-or-treat at the market from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.