60 Midwest Festivals that Will Make Your Heart Whistle Dixie

Nothing beats the ability of Midwest festivals to restore your spirits and sense of wanderlust. Let’s metaphorically throw 2020 into a vat of grapes and stomp on it until it turns into wine. Then take a big sip and spit it out because these 60 festivals will get your groove back.

The new year will be a big reset. A vaccine will be found. A better new normal will take shape. We predict that the wide-open spaces of the Midwest will call us to dust off our overnight bags and explore nearby cities brimming with new restaurants, boutiques, and fresh museum exhibits.

Tom and I can’t wait to load up our cooler and playlists, hit the road once again to enjoy live bands and rides on big Ferris Wheels at state fairs. It will be grand.

ferris wheel
Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash

Optimistically, we put together the 2021 Midwest Event Guide, which lists 60 festivals in 13 states from Arkansas to Wisconsin.

Here is just a taste of what events are in the guide with photos and links to more information and tickets (when tickets are needed).

Birds of a Feather

If you’re a bird watcher, consider going to the Nebraska Crane Festival held in Central Nebraska in March. Or if you’d rather plan a weekend away in Cypress, IL, you can go to the Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center to watch bald eagles and other native birds in their natural habitat.

Sandhill Cranes attract thousands of viewers each winter in the Midwest.

Prefer a cold-weather bird-watching event? Watch a goose chase during Frostival Days in Fargo, ND. All three are outlined in the event guide.


Must Love Dogs

The only thing better than owning a dog is watching a festival centered around dogs. Plan a trip to Lima, OH, to watch the water dog races and to shop 1,800 flea market vendors (no pun intended). More novel yet, head to Sydney, NE, to watch the wiener dog races in October.

Wine, Whisky, and Fierce Bulls

If you prefer flights of craft beer, cider or wine to taste, many Midwest festivals deliver that in spades. In April enjoy the Forks, Corks, and Kegs Festival in Deadwood, SD, or the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour in Grand Forks, ND, in May. Of course, the focus of the Whisky Velocity Tour is watching professional bull riders, but there will be whisky for you as well.

Drink your whiskey out of a snifter, wine glass, or whiskey glass — not a highball glass — for the best taste.

Other choices include the Ozark Beerfest in Springfield, MO, or the Hop Riot Beer Festival in Bay City, MI, in August.

Disclaimer:  Please check state travel laws and guidelines and follow CDC safety protocol when traveling in 2021. We believe life is too short not to get out and eat, drink, and dive into the Midwest every darn month (following safety guidelines).

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Brenda Geiger
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