Top Midwest Events in May and June | Midwest Living

Top Midwest Events in May and June

Feast on pasta or brats, shop at an 824-mile-long garage sale and prep for a polka competition—just a few of the fun events happening in the Midwest in May and June 2019. Check out our event sampler and make your trip plans!


HerrinFesta Italiana HERRIN May 23–27 The big cooking contest will settle the score on who makes the best pasta sauce. But you can feast on pizza and piles of pasta from vendors all five days in and around the Herrin Civic Center. Between bites, catch bocce tournaments and big-name concerts. (Past headliners have included The Beach Boys and Lee Brice.)

Cogs and Corsets BLOOMINGTON June 7–9 Historical fiction fans nerd out over workshops on Victorian culture, live performances and a mustache contest at the steampunk-inspired festival. Buy a ticket for the Sunday brunch at the historic Vrooman Mansion.

Cogs and Corsets

Cogs and Corsets. Photo: David Huber

Great Galena Balloon Race GALENA June 21–23 Pros race hot-air balloons at dawn, then light up the sky with a choreographed glow at dusk. In between, enjoy live music and food. Proceeds benefit Camp Hertko Hollow in Iowa and type 1 diabetes research.


Round the Fountain Art Fair LAFAYETTE May 25 More than 100 artists display photography, watercolors, sculptures, ceramics and other works for sale and judging. Stop inside the Tippecanoe County Courthouse to see a permanent collection from festivals past.

National Road Yard Sale TERRE HAUTE, Richmond and beyond May 29–June 2 You’re bound to find treasures at this 824-mile garage sale stretching from St. Louis to Baltimore. Find antiques and collectibles alongside produce and homemade goods at participating stops in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio.

Symphony on the Prairie FISHERS June–September The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performs weekend concerts at the outdoor Conner Prairie Amphitheater. Bring lawn chairs and a picnic.

Symphony on the Prairie

Photo courtesy of Symphony on the Prairie. 


Orange City Tulip Festival ORANGE CITY May 16–18 This Dutch town plants nearly 100,000 bulbs a year for a colorful welkom to spring. The celebration includes street performances, daily parades and horse-drawn trolley rides through the tulip-swept downtown.

Cherokee PRCA Rodeo CHEROKEE May 30–June 1 Make it a full day with pro rodeo riders at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds. The weekend will include Western cookouts, a beer garden and a parade. Kids love the boot race, pony rides and petting zoo.

Stone Pier Summer Concert Series LAKE VIEW June 1 and 15; July 6; August 3; September 1 Watch from the lawn or a boat floating on Black Hawk Lake. The free shows put Iowa acts like The Maytags (June 15) and national bands on a historic pier. Hit up the Burger Boat or BYO food and drink for a picnic.


Neil Berg’s 101 Years of Broadway MANHATTAN May 19 Piano man Neil Berg and his New York cast will pay tribute to Broadway’s classic hits at the McCain Auditorium. Expect revived arrangements of Broadway classics from Fiddler on the Roof, Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera and others.

Riverfest WICHITA May 31–June 8 The state’s largest community festival draws nearly half a million visitors. The nine-day menu includes music performances, fair food, a parade, a car show and water activities on the banks of the Arkansas River.

National Biplane Fly-In JUNCTION CITY June 1 Antique, modern and classic biplanes dot Freeman Field’s grassy runways. Visitors can mingle with pilots over breakfast before watching judges hand out awards. This year marks the last hurrah for the event.


Engaging African Art: Highlights from the Horn Collection Flint Through May 26 The Flint Institute of Arts will show works from more than 40 African cultures. The Robert Horn collection features figures made of bone, metal and clay; various sculptures; and masks.

Zingerman’s Camp Bacon ANN ARBOR May 29–June 2 During this drool-worthy weekend, catch documentary screenings about cooks, farmers and food supply chains, or attend bacon-centric cooking workshops led by chefs. Bonus: a seemingly endless supply of salty goodness to eat. Most of the one-off events are ticketed individually.

Zingerman's Camp Bacon

Camp Bacon. Photo: Jen Prouty.

Irish Hills Lake and Home Tour BROOKLYN and the Irish Hills area June 22 Jump from one pontoon boat to the next to see dozens of lakeside homes. The architecture tour spanning the Irish Hills includes six lakes and a glimpse of the area’s small towns and local businesses.


Lake Minnetonka Studio Tour MINNETONKA May 4–5 Artists in three neighboring towns open their home studios for questions and demonstrations.

Lake Minnetonka Studio Tour

Photo courtesy of Lake Minnetonka Studio Tours

Duluth Superior Film Festival DULUTH May 29–June 2 Theaters throughout downtown screen dozens of documentaries, indie shorts and features by local directors for free. Movie fans can also sit in on screenplay read-throughs and panel discussions or meet filmmakers at cocktail receptions between showings.

Chocolate, Shakespeare and Champagne WINONA June 7 The Great River Shakespeare company typically performs scenes from several plays at the Winona County History Center. When the curtain closes, visitors mingle with actors over champagne cocktails and pastries from local bakeries.


Magic Dragon Street Meet Nationals Car Show LAKE OF THE OZARKS May 3–5 Almost anything goes at this eclectic car show featuring 1,000 rat rods, motorcycles and slick rides along Lake of the Ozarks’ Bagnell Dam Strip. Stick around to see Bigfoot, the original monster truck, and a muscle-car raffle.

For the People Pow Wow JEFFERSON CITY May 25–26 Watch traditional gourd dances and intertribal singing, leading up to the Grand Entry performance at the Jaycees Fairgrounds. The celebration of Native American culture includes a market, where crafters will display and sell handmade clothing and artwork.

Tour de Corn EAST PRAIRIE June 29 Bikers ride routes of 15, 30, 65 or 100 miles for charity, then refuel with live music, crafts, a street fair and plenty of the summer’s harvest at the neighboring East Prairie Sweet Corn Festival (June 28–29).


American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith OMAHA Through June 23 Artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian join pieces from The Durham Museum’s permanent collection in an exhibit exploring the history of America’s democracy, the changing identity of eligible voters and other themes.

Renaissance Festival of Nebraska PAPILLION May 4–5, 11–12 Sail on an interactive pirate ship, stroll through an Enchanted Forest and watch armored knights compete in jousts. The grounds at Bellevue Berry and Pumpkin Ranch will host more than 100 other costumed performances. Culottes not required.

Rock Creek Trail Days FAIRBURY June 1–2 Some regulars show up for just the buffalo stew cookout. But blacksmithing workshops, Pony Express runs and tours of a military encampment re-create 1860s ranch life, covered wagons and all.


Badlands Gravel Battle MEDORA May 26 Experienced bikers pedal through the Badlands’ spacious red scoria roads on 39-, 77- or 120-mile races. Noncompetitors score views of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Little Missouri River from the sidelines.

Art on the Red GRAND FORKS June 8–9 More than 100 artists and food vendors fill colorful tents downtown near the banks of the Red River. The main stage will host world dance and theatrical performances plus local and national bands that perform late into the night both days.

Rhubarb Festival RUGBY June 23 It may resemble embarrassed celery, but it’s the star ingredient in pies, cakes, cookies and drinks at the Prairie Village Museum. Admission plus a $5 tasting ticket buys half a dozen rhubarb treats and access to concerts and a makers’ market.


The Memorial Tournament DUBLIN May 27–June 2 Some of the best PGA pros are invited to this weeklong championship hosted by golf legend Jack Nicklaus at his own Muirfield Village Golf Club. Snag one of the coveted Adirondack chairs near hole 12 or stake out seats on the patio at Patron Village.

L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters CINCINNATI June 8–September 14 Posters promoting inventions and performers plastered the streets of Paris in the early 20th century. Check out a collection featuring designs by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and many others at this nationally touring exhibit debuting at the Taft Museum of Art.

Creekside Jazz and Blues Festival GAHANNA June 14–16 Sample cocktails, learn to kayak and climb aboard midway rides to the tune of five stages of live music at Creekside Park and Plaza. Headliners will include John Scofield, Joe Louis Walker, John Németh and Vanessa Collier.


South Dakota Kayak Challenge YANKTON May 24–26 Spectators cheer on paddlers as they brave 72 miles of wind and waves along the Missouri River between Yankton and South Sioux City, Nebraska. Prizes for all competitors include picturesque views and bragging rights for life.

Czech Days TABOR June 14–15 Stock up on kolaches during baking demos, then hit the dance floor for the polka competition. The Czech heritage celebration in this South Dakota town will delve into traditional storytelling, a costume contest to name the festival queen and live music.

Great Plains Cheese and Ice Cream Festival SIOUX FALLS June 15 Families can sample local cheeses and ice creams while kids play carnival games, visit a petting zoo and win raffle prizes at Strawbale Winery.


Cut Up/Cut Out WAUSAU through June 2 Paper snowflakes have nothing on these delicate designs cut by artists around the country. Inspired by ancient Chinese paper cutting, the works showing at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum represent transformed maps, magazines and even a car tire and saw blade.

Brat Fest MADISON May 24–26 The quintessential Memorial Day meal fuels a weekend of games (think volleyball, human foosball and laser tag), plus carnival rides and 70-some bands playing three free stages. Stick around for fireworks Sunday.

Frenchtown Annual Tube Float and Regatta CHIPPEWA FALLS June 23 The best way to see the Chippewa River? Float with 5,000 other adventurers. One of the world’s largest one-day tubing events begins below the Chippewa Dam, splashes through downtown, and ends with lawn games and food.


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