Top Midwest Events in July and August | Midwest Living

Top Midwest Events in July and August

Check out a sweet corn festival in Illinois, take a free guided canoe trip in Iowa and try garlic ice cream in Minnesota—just a few of our top Midwest events for July and August 2019.


Geneva Arts Fair GENEVA July 27–28 Downtown’s Victorian-style promenade and centuries-old buildings offer a picturesque backdrop for more than 150 artist booths. Visitors browse paintings, sculptures, textiles, jewelry and more from renowned pros and rising makers.

Mendota Sweet Corn Festival MENDOTA August 8–11 Vendors serve up more than 50 hot, buttery tons of summer’s quintessential treat. On Sunday, it’s cooked in a vintage steam engine and given away for free. A carnival, concerts and grand parade round out the fun.

2019 BMW Championship MEDINAH August 13–18 Mendinah Country Club hosts the world’s 70 greatest pro golfers in the penultimate playoff event for a spot in the PGA Tour Championship. Buy a ticket upgrade to watch the action from the Trophy Club’s air-conditioned tent.


Indy Shorts International Film Festival INDIANAPOLIS July 25–28 Be among the first viewers to watch potential Oscar nominations at this Academy Award-qualifying festival. By day, the professionals host workshops for budding filmmakers at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Swiss Wine Festival VEVAY August 22–25 Just like the nation, Switzerland County has been perfecting its wine-making techniques for centuries. Enjoy the area’s signature reds—made with berries and cherries—next to local cheeses. Savor them aboard a sunset cruise on the Ohio River.

Artomobilia CARMEL August 24 More than 400 vintage, racing, sport, classic and domestic cars line the streets of downtown’s Arts and Design District. Pop into neighboring galleries where paintings by local artists featuring iconic autos are on display.


Lake Red Rock Balloon Fest PELLA July 12–14 Colorful hot-air balloons fill the sky above North Overlook Beach during races and target drops. Kayaks, canoes and boats are welcome—and recommended for claiming the best views from the water.

100th Mississippi Valley Fair DAVENPORT July 30–August 4 Celebrate a century of midway carnival rides, baby animal exhibits and deep-fried snacks on sticks. Brad Paisley, Tesla, and Dan + Shay headline the grandstand concerts.


Photo Courtesy of Mississippi Valley Fair.

Archaeology Paddling Trip CANTON August 9 Once home to Native American tribes, the Driftless Area’s rich forests and limestone bluffs are now designated archeological sites. County naturalists explore the region’s history on a free, guided canoe trip down the Maquoketa River.


Dodge City Days DODGE CITY July 25–August 4 The town celebrates its Western heritage with barbecue contests, concerts, a longhorn cattle drive and seven days of PRCA Rodeo. This year’s theme pays tribute to the 140th anniversary of the Dodge City Cowboy Band.

Float Your Boat MILFORD August 10 Build a boat out of cardboard and duct tape sturdy enough to carry two paddlers. Teams that successfully navigate the full 5K route off Lake Milford win cash prizes, with bonus points for creativity.

Roots Festival PAOLA August 23–24 You can BYOBB (bring your own blanket and beer) to Paola Park Square for a music fest and tasty ’cue. This summer marks the 30th anniversary for the Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned cook-off.


Michigan Shakespeare Festival JACKSON and CANTON July 11–August 18 For the 25th anniversary season, this summer’s lineup features King Lear and The Two Gentlemen of Verona, plus Edmond Rostand’s 1897 biography, Cyrano de Bergerac. See all three shows at Jackson’s Baughman Theatre and Canton’s Village Theater at Cherry Hill.

Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival GRAND HAVEN July 26–August 4 Ship tours, a memorial service and parades salute members of the U.S. Coast Guard. The festival culminates with a fireworks show and concert synced with the Grand Haven Musical Fountain downtown.

GrandJazzFest GRAND RAPIDS August 17–18 Pack a chair and a picnic (or snag a meal from a nearby food truck) before settling into Rosa Parks Circle. Free concerts by national artists and up-and-coming jazz musicians begin early afternoon. Prime spots go fast.


Duluth Airshow DULUTH July 20–21 The Blue Angels star in the state’s largest airshow, with additional flight demos by the U.S. Air Force with the F-35 Lightning II and C-17 Globemaster. See biplanes, helicopters and fighter jets up close along the Sky Harbor Airport runway during the 4K fun run.

WE Fest DETROIT LAKES August 1–3 By day, modern country legends (including Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, LeAnn Rimes, and Brooks and Dunn this year) perform three days of concerts at Soo Pass Ranch. At night, attendees bond over cookouts and fires on festival campgrounds.

Minnesota Garlic Festival HUTCHINSON August 10 Garlic ice cream? Yes, that’s a thing, along with garlic-infused barbecue, cheeses and wine. Local farmers harvest more than 70 types of garlic in time for celebrity-chef cooking demos, a produce market and garlic-themed games.


30 Americans KANSAS CITY From June 1 The Nelson-Atkins’ major summer exhibit features paintings, drawings, sculptures and videos by 30 leading African American artists. The exhibit explores complex issues surrounding identity, history and politics that have shaped four decades of contemporary art.

Carver Day Celebration DIAMOND July 13 Park rangers lead in-depth tours of the George Washington Carver National Monument, while keynote speakers explore and celebrate the contributions Carver made as a scientist and humanitarian. Kids enjoy storytelling and music at this free festival.

International Institute’s Festival of Nations ST. LOUIS August 24–25 Music, art and food from around the world draw 125,000-some visitors to Tower Grove Park. Don’t miss the World Bazaar, offering African drums, Indian saris and other goods. Festival host International Institute of St. Louis celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.


Oregon Trail Days GERING July 11–14 The state’s longest-running festival marks its 98th run with a chili cookoff, local wine tasting, horseshoes competition and street dance. At the craft fair, artists display works inspired by the Nebraska landscape.

Kool-Aid Days HASTINGS August 9–11 Vendors pour more than 20 flavors at the World’s Largest Kool-Aid Stand, while trolleys carry visitors through downtown and past the building where the iconic drink was invented. The festivities continue with a Kool-Aid drinking competition, cardboard boat races and a nighttime fireworks show.

Behind the Scenes ASHLAND August 10 Curators at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum take guests on a tour of the archives, with presentations about Nebraska’s role in the Cold War. Check out never-before-seen artifacts from the Strategic Air Command and Civil Defense headquarters.


North Dakota State Fair MINOT July 19–27 The usual suspects are there (midway games, live music and fried foods), but what makes this fair special is its 47,000 4-H, FFA, and open-class exhibits. See livestock shows, ag products, cooking competitions and more at the State Fair Center and barns.

Fargo Blues Festival FARGO July 26–27 A dozen national acts plus up-and-comers perform two nights of blues at Newman Outdoor Field. After the concerts, head downtown for the after-hours shows, where musicians are known to host jam sessions at local watering holes.

North Dakota Chokecherry Festival WILLISTON August 9–10 The official state fruit (locals describe it like a pucker-inducing strawberry—in a good way) stars at this festival. Go all in for pit-spitting contests, a parade and a free pancake breakfast with the crop of honor drizzled as syrup. The festival features an Ultimate Air Dogs dock-jumping event.


John Jude Palencar: Between Worlds CANTON Through July 21 Best known for designing the Game of Thrones and Star Wars book series cover art, the Ohio native specializes in illustrating all things sci-fi, fantasy and surreal. See his latest illustrations, such as the dragon from the Eragon book series, at the Canton Museum of Art.

Major League Baseball All-Star Game CLEVELAND July 9 Baseball fans can watch major league greats compete in the annual American League vs. National League showdown, hosted by the Indians. The midsummer classic will showcase recent upgrades and renovations at Progressive Field.

The Shawshank Redemption 25th Anniversary MANSFIELD August 16–18 Get busy living at the famous prison where the movie was filmed. At least nine Shawshank actors plan to attend the event, where you can meet the cast members or see filming locations along the Escape from Shawshank 7K race. A screening of the movie will take place in the theater where the movie premiered 25 years ago.


Native POP RAPID CITY July 19–20 This juried fine-art show highlights works created by local Native American artists with a focus on Great Plains cultures. Check out paintings, sculptures, beadwork and a fashion show along Main Street Square. Black Hills Studio also screens documentaries and other movies for a film festival. nativepop.orgs

WildCat Classic HOT SPRINGS August 17 Score unobstructed views of Black Hills National Forest’s rugged canyons and hilly meadows during this 40-, 28- or 7-mile friendly bike race. Bring a towel—you’ll want it for the celebratory dip in the natural hot springs at the finish line.

Corn Palace Festival MITCHELL August 21–25 Top-billed entertainers, including Clint Black, Trace Adkins, and Blood, Sweat and Tears perform at the not-so-corny festival. Other attractions include carnival rides, judged vegetable competitions and food vendors.


46th Annual Stockholm Art Fair STOCKHOLM July 20 A small village calls for a large festival. Visit over 100 exhibitors, live performances and grab a bite of Greek food (or the nine other restaurants with varying menus). Make sure to get there by 10am though, because the fun only lasts seven hours.

German Fest MILWAUKEE July 26–28 The Dachshund Derby, home-brew competition and Trachtenschau fashion show are local traditions. For the ultimate experience, snack on cream-filled bienenstich cake while watching the lumberjack championships at Henry W. Maier Festival Park.

German Fest

Photo Courtesy of German Fest Milwaukee.

Mile of Music Festival APPLETON August 1–4 More than 200 artists perform free all-original music showcases along a 1-mile strip throughout downtown. Catch their sets in coffee shops, restaurants, parks, museums and more. Scour the lineup online and prep with the Mile 7 Spotify playlist.

Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw PRAIRIE DU SAC August 30–31 Join more than 40,000 people of all ages at the annual chip-chuck, with honors given to winning teams and individuals. Additional events include an art fair, a 5K and 10K run, and the Tournament of Chips Parade.

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