Top Midwest Events in September and October | Midwest Living

Top Midwest Events in September and October

Check out a fashion exhibit in Ohio, try an apple-peeling race in Nebraska and test new board and card games in Wisconsin—just a few of our top Midwest events for September and October 2019.


Elgin Short Film Festival ELGIN September 21 Filmmakers have 20 minutes to dazzle judges and audience members with original live-action or animated shorts at The Hemmens Cultural Center. Top finalists’ films are shown in the 1,200-seat theater.

Shrimp Festival GOLCONDA September 21 This Ohio River town is known for its top-notch, farm-raised seafood (really!). Sample freshwater prawns prepared more than a dozen ways by area chefs during the shrimp cook-off.

Knox County Scenic Drive KNOX COUNTY October 5–6, 12–13 Stops along this self-guided driving tour of the Spoon River Valley include museums, century-old chapels and National Register of Historic Places buildings. Plus homemade pie.


Grabill Country Fair GRABILL September 5–7 The community swells the weekend after Labor Day when locals offer a rare glimpse into Amish life. Fairgoers enjoy homestyle cooking, a pie-eating contest, crafts and bluegrass concerts.

Indy Festival of Faiths INDIANAPOLIS September 22 Members from more than 75 congregations celebrate their beliefs through music, films, poetry readings and food. Visitors participate in Q&A discussions and attend mindful meditation workshops.

Trevor Noah BLOOMINGTON October 11 The Emmy award-winning host of The Daily Show blends stories from his impoverished childhood in South Africa with his rise to fame into an honest—and hilarious—evening of stand-up at the Indiana University Auditorium.


Architecture Tours MASON CITY Fridays–Sundays, through September 30 Ranked as one of the best cities for architecture, this northern Iowa spot boasts the world’s largest collection of Prairie School-style homes surrounding a natural setting. The one-hour tour showcases buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright and more.

Sulkies to Speedways: A Need for Speed in Cedar Valley WATERLOO Through November 16 The Grout Museum of History and Science’s collection of antique motorcycles, sulky carts, hot rods and memorabilia examines the history of popular venues and styles.

Tattoo: Identity Through Ink DECORAH Through April 26, 2020 The Vesterheim Museum’s exhibit explores the 5,000-year history of tattoos. Plan your visit around a live tattoo event, when prominent artists show off their skills.


ICT Fest WICHITA September 6–7 An eclectic lineup of rock, pop, hip-hop, punk and electronic bands takes the stage at the Wave venue. The music continues during discounted after-party shows at watering holes throughout downtown.

Kincaid Fair KINCAID September 26–28 For 110 years, the small town has celebrated the end of summer with a three-day bash featuring turtle races, horseshoe pitching, a parade and buffalo chip-chucking contests.

Tour de Salt HUTCHINSON October 13 You’ve biked the prairie’s sun-soaked terrain. Now pedal 650 feet underneath it through a salt mine. Headlamps and helmets required.


Frankenmuth Funtown Chowdown Food Truck Festival FRANKENMUTH September 12 Chefs sling street food, such as tacos, deep-fried cheese curds and chicken dinners, from trucks parked at Frankenmuth River Place Shops. Local brewers serve serious suds.

Tulipanes Latino Art and Film Festival HOLLAND September 19–21 Venues throughout town screen award-winning shorts and feature films that spotlight Latino culture. Most showings are free; all films have English subtitles.

Fall Color Tour by Kayak MIDLAND October 10 Forget road trips. The best way to catch Michigan’s peak fall foliage is from the seat of a kayak. Join guides from the Chippewa Nature Center in a leisurely trip down the Chippewa River.


Mahkato Wacipi MANKATO September 20–22 Each fall, three days of music and education in Mankato’s Land of Memories Park honor the fallen warriors of the 1862 Dakota-U.S. Conflict.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Walking Tour SAINT PAUL September 28–29 Explore the acclaimed author’s turf during guided, 90-minute walking tours through his hometown. Stops include Fitzgerald’s birthplace and the brownstone where he wrote his first novel.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Walking Tour in Saint Paul, MN

F. Scott Fitzgerald Walking Tour in Saint Paul, MN. Photo Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society.

Park Escape SAINT JOSEPH October 17–20 Your goal: Help break a witch’s curse before time runs out. The twist? You’re trapped in a county park—not an escape room. Activities include deciphering puzzles and tackling physical challenges along hiking routes.


Archeology Day at Graham Cave State Park DANVILLE September 14 Home to Native Americans 10,000 years ago, this archaeological site was the first in the country to be designated a National Historic Landmark. Park employees host excavation demos.

Craftoberfest ST. LOUIS October 10 Twinkling lights illuminate the city’s first nighttime, open-air market, where 40 vendors offer handmade, vintage-inspired goods. Nearby breweries pour pints for shoppers, adding to the craft experience.

Déjà Vu Spirit Reunion STE. GENEVIEVE October 26 Historical figures guide family-friendly tours of the state’s oldest cemetery. The 1787–1880 burial ground includes tombs of pioneers, African Americans and Native Americans who shaped Missouri.


AppleJack Festival NEBRASKA CITY September 20–22 Fall’s quintessential fruit draws nearly 80,000 people for apple-peeling races, pie-baking competitions, barrel-bobbing contests and more. Hayrides shuttle visitors to local orchards for apple picking.

Annie Moses Band KEARNEY October 4 This award-winning, classical-crossover group (made up of six siblings!) performs folk-inspired renditions of classic songs.

Louder than Words: Rock, Power and Politics OMAHA From October 12 At The Durham Museum, explore artifacts from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Newseum. The exhibit explores the impact music has had on political topics, such as civil rights.


Maddock Rural Renaissance Festival MADDOCK September 22–24 A Medieval market and horse rides combine with pumpkin bowling and wine tastings—a Renaissance Fair-meets-Oktoberfest mash-up.

GameChanger Ideas Festival BISMARCK October 5 In Belle Mehus Auditorium, author Casey Gerald and other GameChangers will explore this year’s topic of The Myth of the American Dream.

Sauerkraut Day WISHEK October 9 Cooks serve 125 gallons of kraut with 500 pounds of wieners and speck during a free lunch.


Kimono: Refashioning Contemporary Style CINCINNATI Through September 15 This Cincinnati Art Museum exhibit celebrates the influence that traditional Japanese formalwear has on modern fashion.

SPACE: A Journey to Our Future GALLIPOLIS From September 7 The Bossard Memorial Library hosts a 5,000-square-foot touring NASA exhibit, at which you can play astronaut in a self-powered centrifuge and tour a full-scale future moon habitat.

Roscoe Village Apple Butter Stirrin’ COSHOCTON October 18–20 Warm apple butter, hand-stirred in copper kettles over open fires, stars at this 49th annual fest. Local vendors serve apple specialties alongside demonstrations, craft exhibits and outdoor stages.


Black Hills Plein Air Paint-Out HILL CITY September 25–28 Hike some of the Black Hills’ best-known trails to watch artists paint iconic scenery. Buy art or bid on a piece in the charity auction.

Siouxpercon SIOUX FALLS September 27–29 Lovers of comics, fantasy, sci-fi and gaming unite. Join them for speakers, workshops and the state’s largest cosplay contest at Sioux Falls Convention Center.

South Dakota Festival of Books DEADWOOD October 4–6 Bookworms rub elbows with local and national authors during signings, presentations, panel discussions and writing workshops.


Maker and Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry OSHKOSH Through September 22 Highlights among the 200 pieces of jewelry on view at Paine Art Center and Gardens include works by Louis Comfort Tiffany and more.

China Lights: Treasures of China HALES CORNERS September 13–October 20 Chinese lantern-makers bring their tradition to Boerner Botanical Gardens. Day or night, explore the colorful, 20-plus-foot displays that dot the grounds.

Protospiel MADISON October 17–20 Object: Provide feedback to rising game designers. Directions: Join other strategy nerds in testing board and card games before they hit shelves. Here, everyone wins.

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