Autumn came early this year! The kids are back to school, a chill is in the air, and it's almost time for fall festivals. If you don't want to spend a fortune for family fun, you'll love this list because the first six festivals are free!
1. Harvest Fair 2017 (Free admission!)
Friday, Sept. 23: 5pm – 11pm Saturday, Sept. 24: 9am – 11pm Sunday, Sept. 25: 9am – 5pm
Wisconsin State Fair
Fun activities for kids of all ages include a kiddie tractor maze, hay rides, camel and pony rides, cookie decorating, DIY backpacks, live music, zip line, inflatables, hand-print leaves, make your own caramel apple, a lumberjack show, pumpkin bowling, mini pumpkin decorating, a pumpkin patch, scarecrow making, and much more!
Maker Faire Milwaukee will also be returning this year in the Expo Center. Find more info at makerfairemilwaukee.com.
2. Sturgeon Fest (Free admission!)
Saturday, September 30th, 2017
Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee
Enjoy family fun at Sturgeon Fest, one of the biggest annual conservation events and festivals in Wisconsin, returning a breeding population of Sturgeon to Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River! The festivities continue all day with games and activities for kids, kayak demonstrations, prairie tours, educational booths, delicious local food trucks, and more. Sturgeon Fest celebrates Riveredge’s 25 year partnership with the Wisconsin DNR to bring back Lake Sturgeon, a critically important species both environmentally and culturally, to the Milwaukee River, where they haven’t been seen in over 100 years.
3. New Berlin Applefest (Free admission!)
Sunday, October 1st, 2017
1:00pm - 4:00pm
New Berlin Historical Park
Ride the orchard barrel train, check out the cider press, join square dancing in the barn, pick out a pumpkin, operate model trains in the museum, and more!
4. Fall Festival at Piala's Nursery (Free admission!)
Saturday, October 7th, 2017 (9:00-5:00)
Sunday, October 8th, 2017 (10:00-4:00)
Piala's Nursery & Garden Shop, Inc.(S39W27833 Genesee Rd., Waukesha, WI 53189)
All ages are welcome, and there is no charge for admission. Bring the family for a bouncy house, giant slide and games, live music, craft fair with many local artisans, hot food and beverages, animals & peacock palace, pumpkin, squash and gourd carving, raffles, Waukesha Fire Department ladder truck meet and greet, Waukesha County Sheriff's Department motorcycle meet and greet, and more!
5. Thiensville Applefest (Free admission!)
Sunday, October 1st (no Packer game on this Sunday!)
11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Thiensville Village Park
Applefest is a celebration of the autumn harvest and Ozaukee County’s apple heritage. Enjoy the charming small town atmosphere in a beautiful park on the shores of the Milwaukee River.
Applefest will feature live music by the Squeezettes, fresh apples and apple cider, and other fall treats and crafts.
This family friendly event will also feature hay rides, a performance by Kohl’s Wild Theatre, an apple pie baking contest, coloring contest, polka contest, big wheel racing, and face painting. Applefest will feature delicious apple brats along with apple pies and other food and beverages.
6. Oktoberfest (Cedarburg)
October 14th from 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
October 15th from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Historic downtown Cedarburg
A huge tent will be erected in the Community Center Parking Lot (W63 N641 Washington Avenue) to cover the authentic German music and dancers, wood floor for polka, and Glockenspiel Show (Cuckoo Clock). Enjoy german food and beverages including curry wurst, bratwurst and sausage platters. There will even by a Sauerkraut eating contest and german spelling bee! Enjoy the Volkswagon Club car display on Saturday!
Free Church Festivals
1. Community Carnival
Sunday, September 10th
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Centennial Lutheran Church
3558 S 24th Street
Three bounce houses, His Way band, balloon tying clown, raffle items, caricarurist, face painting, fire truck, police car, and snacks. Everything is free!
2. St. Luke Fall Festival
Friday, September 8th
4:00 - 11:00 p.m.
St. Luke Catholic Church
18000 W. Greenfield Avenue
Brookfield, WI 53045
Fish fry and lots of other food, local crafts and vendors, live music including a Frank Sinatra impersonator, cash raffle, and children's activities including games, bounce house, balloons, prizes, and flashlight candy hunt.
3. Pumpkin Fest at Reformation Church (Dousman)
Saturday, October 21st
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Reformation Lutheran Church (S39 W32819 County Road D Dousman, WI 53118)
Leave your wallet at home for this free family event that runs rain or shine. Enjoy hayrides, a barbershop quartet, barrel train rides, bounce houses, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin painting and carving, doughnut eating contests, cider press, apple bobbing, piñatas, crafts, carnival games, face painting, cookie decorating, kindness rocks, gourd launching, chili, pie, and custard tasting, boxes mazes, and more.
Not free, but still fun!
1. Cider Sunday
Wehr Nature Center in Franklin
Sunday, October 1st, 2017
11:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
$3.00 per person
$3.00 parking fee
FREE for Friends of Wehr members
Start your fall with a Friends of Wehr tradition, Cider Sunday. Enjoy an afternoon filled with live music, great food, family activities, and fresh-made apple cider. Take a guided walk along the Nature Center trails and explore the changing leaf colors of the season. Cider Sunday is a great way to get the whole family involved in nature for the day. Highlights include making cider with our hand crank cider press, sampling and learning how apple butter is made over an open fire, tapping your toes to live music by The Bluegrass All Stars and The Sweet Sheiks, apple tasting-over 8 different varieties, participating in our old-fashioned Cake Walk for a chance to win a homemade cake, enjoying an amazing apple crepe or chocolate apple brownie, making fall crafts, hiking through the fall woods, and more!
2. Family Farm Weekend
Saturday and Sunday, September 9th and 10th
9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Visit the Northwestern Mutual Family Farm for fun farm-related activities, including a basket weaving demonstration, a local farmers market featuring fresh, locally grown produce, and a milk chugging contest – see if you can chug until the cows come home! Other activities include a pedal tractor-pull, the Wisconsin Spudmobile, pick eating contest, ice cream making demonstrations, and more! All activities are free with regular Zoo admission.
3. Fall Festival at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
Sunday, October 15th, 2017
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Bayside
All Members: $5
Non-Members:Adult $10 | Youth $5
From horse-drawn wagon rides and nature hikes to an apple cider press, the whole family can celebrate fall at Schlitz Audubon! Complete details to follow.
All parking for Fall Festival is at Bayside School, 601 E. Ellsworth Lane. Admissions are on the East Side of Bayside School, where free shuttle buses will bring everyone to Schlitz Audubon. The Schlitz Audubon lot is reserved for handicapped parking only.
4. Apple Harvest Festival at Retzer Nature Center
Saturday, September 23rd
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Retzer Nature Center (S14W28167 Madison St, Waukesha, Wisconsin 53188)
Enjoy arts & crafts, horse drawn wagon rides, planetarium shows, children's games and activities, live music, and apple market, and more!
Know of any other Fall Festivals we should add to the list? Drop a comment below!