As summer is to boaters and swimmers, autumn is a very special time for those who love festivals. When grapevine leaves begin to turn yellow in vineyards, wine festivals are often celebrated. Craft fairs populate event calendars everywhere – held at churches, schools, in tents outdoors, and anywhere tables can be set up and filled with creative wares.
Jefferson County is rich with many such events. Starting with the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson on September 10-12, people of all ages can enjoy exceptionally smart Border Collies bossing herds of sheep, sheep shearing contests, and several vendor buildings with everything from yarn to spinning wheels to animal supplies. Sign up for classes – whether you knit, spin, or want to raise your own sheep or Border Collies – and enjoy the quilt show (wonder if that quilt batting is made of wool?). Spend a day here, or all three, and you will find something to enjoy.
Love sauerkraut? How about wieners? Whether you love one or both, you’ll have ample chance to enjoy these “delicacies” at Wiener and Kraut Day in Waterloo on September 11. Participate in the Walk/Run to benefit Friends of Waterloo’s Carousel. Sign up to be on an Amazing Race team and compete against other teams to be the first to conquer each challenge. Enjoy the parade, a motorcycle show and of course, a hot dog eating contest.
What goes best with wine? Cheese might be the obvious answer, but at the Rock River Wine Festival & Craft Show on September 11 in Watertown, you can enjoy samples of wine from over 14 different Wisconsin wineries while shopping for crafts, trying your hand (or foot) at grape-stomping, and getting involved in one of the state’s only cheesecake contests. Cheese(cake) DOES go with wine! Be sure to mark your calendars for two more beverage events as well. The Fort Wine & Stein on October 16 at Velvet Lips in Fort Atkinson is a popular festival for fans of wine and craft beer. The Rotary Beer Festival on October 23 at the Windwood of Watertown provides the opportunity to sample over 50 varieties of beer and food pairings. Can’t make Oktoberfest in Germany this year? You’re sure to have just as much fun here in Jefferson County.
One of the premiere fall festivals in Jefferson County is Gemütlichkeit Days in Jefferson. Three days of fun on September 17 through September 19 will be sure to make you enjoy every event. Check this blog for more information on Gemuetlichkeit Days soon!
What could be more fun on a beautiful autumn day than walking around and enjoying menu selections from local chefs and restaurants, along with artwork and music? Come to Whitewater on September 24 and 25 for Taste of Whitewater and experience autumn in one of Wisconsin’s most picturesque communities.
St. Wenceslaus is often mentioned in songs during the December holidays, but in Waterloo, this is a festival celebrated in September (September 26 this year). Follow country roads you may have never driven before to discover Island Church, a Wisconsin registered landmark. Early settlers to this area from Bohemia and Germany originally called this church St. Wenceslaus, after the King of Bohemia, and today this festival is a mixture of history, food and music.
The first weekend in October is an especially busy one for Lake Mills this year, and a wide variety of events can be found both Saturday and Sunday – which means spending the entire weekend in the area at one of Jefferson County’s great hotels or bed & breakfasts is a must! Saturday, October 2 is the Tyranena Oktoberfest Bike Ride, followed by the Painted Ladies’ Annual Fundraiser that evening. Over 1700 bike riders converge on Lake Mills to take part in the ride. Three bands, lots of food and plenty of beer flow when the wheels return to home base at Tyranena Brewing Company. After a quick change of clothes (or maybe a dip in Rock Lake, temperature permitting), it’s off to downtown Lake Mills for an evening of silent and live auctions, more beer (and wine), food, music and fun. It’s the premiere fundraiser of the year in Lake Mills, and all proceeds from this evening event benefit the Lake Mills Main Street Program as well as the Arts Alliance of Greater Lake Mills. Be sure to get a little sleep before returning downtown on Sunday morning for the annual Fall Festival of Color on October 3. Held in Commons Park, you’ll find crafts, antiques, and more food!
The first Saturday in October is sure to be one of the most popular days for festivals in Jefferson County. Check out Watertown’s Fall Festival on October 2. Music, a scarecrow contest and lots of children’s activities make this a great family destination. Head over to the World’s Best Brat Festival at the Watertown Airport the same day. Brat makers will be competing for the title of Best Brat for their sausages – and these are some talented chefs. Wine and live music complement the event.
Jefferson is hosting their Autumn Fest on October 2 as well. Stores will have special sales and street vendors. Children activities make this a family-friendly event, and horse-drawn wagon rides will show you the streets of Jefferson the way people saw them more than 100 years ago.
Art lovers will be drawn to two popular events this fall – the Kettle Moraine Studio Tour on October 9-10, and the Earth, Wood and Fire Local Artist Tour on October 23-24. Enjoy scenic Wisconsin drives to visit talented artists both weekends. Locations and artists can be found on both websites.
Fall in love with Jefferson County this autumn!