If you can believe it, as I look out the window while I type this, there are already leaves on the ground. Which means some of the trees are already orange and red and I feel like I’ve missed out on experiencing the wonderful world of fall in Wisconsin.
Lucky for us in the southern part of the state, the trees haven’t reached full peak yet. Most of the counties around here are at about 5-25% color (you can check out Wisconsin’s Fall Color Report here). Which, you guessed it, means there is a chance you can still hop in your car (retract the roof on your convertible if you’re lucky enough – my moonroof will have to suffice) and take a delightful drive on a scenic route through the state. If you are feeling adventurous, Door County and the La Crosse area are still at about 25% or less color, giving you enough time to view some of our state’s most beautiful areas still this month. You’ve got about a week or two until most of Wisconsin hits peak color, then it’s on to snow… but I won’t get too ahead of myself.
While you are out enjoying the views of the ever-changing leaves, how about getting the rest of your fall fix at some apple orchards and fall themed events throughout the state? Now here’s the deal, I’m going to throw some awesome places to go out there to you, but just remember, some might be a hike to get to (if you’re feeling brave enough) so you’ve been warned!
THE PLACE WITH THE BEST DA** APPLE PIE
Let’s start off locally – well, close enough to call it ‘local’ for me. I grew up about 15 minutes from the smiley barn. Yes, the smiley barn. It resides at The Elegant Farmer, and it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread (I know, I know it’s a barn… but nostalgia). For those who haven’t been to The Elegant Farmer, it’s located in Mukwonago, about a 45-minute drive from the city. This place has just about everything you need to enjoy fall. Let me list off a few things: it’s a bakery, it’s a deli, it’s an apple orchard, there is a corn maze, train rides, pony rides, apple cider donuts and literally a thousand other things to do. But, I saved the best for last – their brown paper bag pie. Here is how I can prove it’s the best pie ever in one sentence: it beat out one of America’s best chefs on Throwndown! with Bobby Flay (go ahead and watch for yourself below).
The pie is basically cooked in a brown paper bag (kinda like the one your mom used to pack your lunch in). This method of baking creates a crunchy top crust while keeping the bottom crust nice and flaky. And if you are too lazy to drive to Mukwonago, you can get them shipped to your house. The Elegant Farmer’s Autumn Harvest Festival runs through October 23, on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm. Make this a yearly tradition starting now, and drop off one of those pies at our office when you get back!
THE PLACE WHERE SQUASH FLY IN THE AIR
When you think of fall, you think of pumpkins. And when you think of pumpkins, you say, “How far can I catapult this through the air?” No? Well for those who do, the Union Grove Great Pumpkin Chuckin Fest is the place for you. If you know how to make a catapult to hurl a pumpkin as far as you can, then sign up for the competition! If spectating is more your sport, I’m sure this event will keep you entertained. And if eating is more your sport, then the Kansas City BBQ Cook-Off portion will surely sustain your appetite. A total of $6,800 in prizes is being awarded in the cook-off. The Racine County Fairgrounds is the host of this event, running from October 21 through October 23.
THE PLACE WHERE I CAN’T PRONOUNCE ANYTHING THAT’S HAPPENING THERE
If you’re Norwegian, or not, travel up to Iola to the 99th (Yes… 99th…) Annual Lutefisk Supper and Norwegian Bake and Craft Sale on October 17. I’m not sure how many fall activities will be part of this event, but I saw it and had to include it; partially because it’s almost a century old and part because I have no idea what goes on at a thing like this. They say you can get the following food there: lutefisk, lefse, sandbakkels, krumkakes, and fattigmann cookies. It’s $14 for adults and $4 for children aged 6 to 12. I’ll refund you your admittance fee if you can report back to me on not only how to say the aforementioned food items, but if they do taste as weirdly delicious as they sound.
THE PLACE WHERE YOUR KIDS CAN TRICK OR TREAT FOR SOMETHING OTHER THAN CANDY
Touting their event as “sugar-free family fun”, the Cave of the Mounds, in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, is hosting an experience that is sure to delight your little ones (although this sugar-free thing makes me want to go eat a chocolate bar as we speak). HOLLOWeen at the Cave will run October 27 through October 31. Bring your kids to go on a scavenger hunt on the nature trails, dig for fossils, and go trick or treating for gemstones (this is actually really cool). On the weekend of the festival, you can experience the cave in a whole new light. Literally. They are going to light the cave in candles, which could be beautiful and a little bit eerie at the same time. And tip from me, dress your kid up as a bat. Because that would be A-MAZING.
THE PLACE WHERE YOUR ZOMBIE COSTUME WILL BE OF MOST USE
On the last full weekend of October, take a 6-hour drive north and you will end up in Washburn, Wisconsin. If you have ever been to Washburn, it won’t look the same when you arrive. The town transforms into a Zombie Town, with residents and visitors dressed in their best ‘undead’ garb. You can participate in a Zombie walk/run, haunted house, parade, and get this, even Zombie Zumba. For those who wish to walk the streets at night, there will be a pub crawl (hopefully your rotted face won’t leak out all that beer you’ll want to consume).
oRr GRrr Mrrr nuurg uUrR arraaa!!
(According to this translator ^that^ means, “You won’t want to miss this! – is Zombie speak a language now? Thanks Walking Dead…) I now believe the zombie apocalypse will start in the north woods of Wisconsin, thanks to this fest, which is going to jinx it for everyone.
These events are only a sampling of what is going on around Wisconsin this fall. There are a lot of other cool spots to hit up. Check out our blog post from yesterday to see some local events this weekend and report back if you make it to one of these events above. We would love to hear about your experience!