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Top Midwest Events in March and April

This spring, participate in a grilled cheese championship, watch swordplay demos at a Viking festival and catch the splendor of the annual Sandhill crane migration. Check out these and other top events around the Midwest for March and April.

ILLINOIS

St. Patrick’s Day  PEORIA March 17 Even bigger than the grand parade (which features more than 150 floats including flying pigs, pints of Guinness and vintage cars) is the after-party. Atop the Gateway Building, chefs and bartenders sling corned beef and pints while Irish bands and step dancers perform. stpatpeoria.com

Lewis Black: The Joke’s on US tour SPRINGFIELD March 31 Celebrated for his spot-on social commentary, this comic is best known for poking fun at everything from pop culture to politics. His 2019 tour makes a stop at the University of Illinois Springfield Performing Arts Center. uispac.com

INDIANA

An Evening with Leslie Odom Jr. FORT WAYNE March 2 The triple-threat, Tony Award-winning Hamilton star (and now chart-topping solo artist) makes his Indiana debut performing alongside the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Expect a set list featuring classic hits, Broadway showstoppers and jazz tunes. fwembassytheatre.org

Oddities and Curiosities Expo INDIANAPOLIS April 6 Things will get creepy at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The traveling event rounds up mummified items, animal bone jewelry, live sideshows, antique Ouija boards and other artifacts with a bent toward the macabre and unusual. odditiesandcuriositiesexpo.com

IOWA

The Heartland Ballet Presents Soaring DUBUQUE March 16–24 Artistic director Marina O’Rourke choreographed an original interpretation of Stravinsky’s Firebird. The show includes a bonus all-new contemporary ballet by Megan MacLeod that will feature the classically trained company dancers. thegrandoperahouse.com

Clear Lake Earth Days CLEAR LAKE April 16–22 In addition to a Green Expo and OutdoorFest, the town’s two-decade tradition also includes lunch-and-learn gatherings, competitive 5K and 10K runs, and a Trash Bash community cleanup day. earthdayclearlake.org

KANSAS

NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship HUTCHINSON March 18–23 March Madness continues here with the top 24 men’s basketball teams in the National Junior College Athletic Association. Teams will compete for the national championship at the newly renovated Hutchinson Sports Arena. njcaahutchtourney.com

Tulip Time Festival

Photo courtesy of Tulip Time Festival

Tulip Time Festival TOPEKA, Kansas April 5–22 More than 100,000 tulips bloom at Ted Ensley Gardens, Ward-Meade Botanical Garden and Gage Park. See many of them illuminated by candlelight during nighttime tours of Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site. visittopeka.com

Kansas Storytelling Festival DOWNS April 26–27 Dozens of professional and amateur storytellers recount dramatic historic events, teach about Midwest customs, share poems and tell original tall tales. Comfy chairs are provided at the participating venues across town. kansasstorytelling.com

MICHIGAN

Great Bear Chase CALUMET March 9 The UP puts its accumulated snow to use with a cross-country ski marathon including 10K, 25K and 50K races. Carb-loading is encouraged during the prerace pasta dinner, and volunteers reward skiers with pasties at the finish line. greatbearchase.com

Selected Shorts: Food Fiction TRAVERSE CITY April 28 Writers, actors and producers perform a series of delicious short stories about eating and all things culinary when the popular public radio show—and now top-rated podcast—takes to the stage at the City Opera House. cityoperahouse.org

MINNESOTA

Inspired: A Conversation with Misty Copeland MINNEAPOLIS March 31 The first African American woman to be named principal dancer in New York’s American Ballet Theatre shares how she overcame hardships to achieve her goals. Journalist Robyne Robinson acts as master of ceremonies, and actress Lea Thompson makes a guest appearance at Northrop auditorium. northrop.umn.edu

Sweetwater Shakedown LUTSEN April 4–6 Beside Lake Superior, cool nights and sunny spring days on the North Shore make for optimal corn snow-skiing conditions. During this festival, après-ski means three days of mountaintop concerts at Papa Charlie’s, featuring rising folk and bluegrass performers. lutsen.com

MISSOURI

Napoleon: Power and Splendor KANSAS CITY through March 10 The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art explores the emperor’s rise, reign and eventual exile through more than 200 pieces compiled from museums throughout the world. Visitors can browse paintings, sculptures, silver and furniture owned by the military leader. nelson-atkins.org

Morels and Microbrews FULTON April 27 There’s no shortage of the rare fungi at this tasting event where chefs from downtown’s historic Brick District serve morels raw and fried alongside craft beer and spirits. In the afternoon, children can search for plastic ’shrooms during a hunt in the park. thebrickdistrict.com

NEBRASKA

Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival KEARNEY March 21–24 Nearly 80 percent of the world’s Sandhill cranes stop on the Platte River during their northern migration. Watch thousands of them on guided birding hikes or from inside the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary. Speakers from around the country will give talks on a variety of wildlife and environmental issues. ne.audubon.org

Arbor Day NEBRASKA CITY April 26–28 The birthplace for the national holiday celebrates in a big way with tree climbing, crafts and games, plus tours of the mansion where Arbor Day founder J. Sterling Morton lived. Fresh pies and tarts from Pie Garden Cafe are a local tradition. arbordayfarm.org

NORTH DAKOTA

Fargo Film Festival FARGO March 19–23 Downtown’s restored Art Deco Fargo Theatre plays host to the annual cinema celebration. The fest screens roughly 100 independent films from around the world and coordinates special events, parties and a lineup of guests that has included Oscar-winning filmmakers in previous years. fargofilmfestival.org

UNDIA Time-Out Week and Wacipi GRAND FORKS April 10–13 Tribal leaders offer a series of free lectures on Native American culture and traditions at the University of North Dakota. Visitors then see these customs in practice during dances, craft workshops and a grand entry performance at the state’s largest powwow. und.edu

OHIO

Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival WILMINGTON March 29–30 Both nationally known and rising bands, including Dailey and Vincent, and The Malpass Brothers, perform acoustic and bluegrass tunes at the Roberts Centre. Children under the age of 17 get in free, and public jams often unfold late in the night. somusicfest.com

Ashville Viking Festival ASHVILLE April 27–28 This twist on a classic Renaissance festival features performers dressed in Nordic warrior garb, swordplay demos, and three stages for music and dancing. Vendors offer Scandinavian-inspired snacks and housewares at the Saxon Market. ashvilleohio.gov

SOUTH DAKOTA

Eagle Hike SIOUX FALLS March 9 A naturalist presents about bald eagles and preservation on a hike through Good Earth State Park, where the majestic birds are often nesting or making a pit stop during migration north for the summer. gfp.sd.gov

Forks, Corks and Kegs DEADWOOD April 5–6 Breweries and wineries from around the country share their best beverages next to hors d’oeuvres and entree samples prepared by local chefs. A free trolley escorts ticket holders to event stops, and a VIP pass offers early access to the tasting rooms. deadwood.com

WISCONSIN

National Geographic Live:  Exploring Mars GREEN BAY April 12 Award-winning NASA scientist Kobie Boykins shares updates on the Mars exploration and speaks about the possibilities of past life on the red planet at The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Weidner Center. weidnercenter.com

Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship DODGEVILLE April 27 Chefs and home cooks present their best sandwiches showcasing Wisconsin cheese. Sign up for the professional, amateur or youth division. Or you can show up as a hungry spectator. grilledcheesewisconsin.com

 

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