Take a night hike along a torch-lit trail at Devil’s Lake State Park, find a new favorite craft beer, board a vintage train to pick out a pumpkin, or munch vegetarian fare while listening to live music: These are just a few of the fun fall happenings taking place throughout Sauk County this autumn. Want more? We’ve got you covered.
The market is open all summer for freshly picked berries, fruit, and vegetables, but come autumn, you’ll want to visit for the fall festivities. The Lil’ Bumpkin Play Village is a hit for all ages with play buildings, a giant climbable John Deere, a zip line, a pedal-kart racetrack, and a petting zoo. Then find your way through the 2.5-acre corn maze and catch a ride around the farm on the Country Bumpkin Express Train. Grab a soft spot on a hayride to the pumpkin patch, where you can pick the perfect squash in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Admission is $15 per person and includes a cone of animal feed. The concession stand serves food and drinks on weekends and the on-site bakery is always sending out fresh pies, breads, and more.
Apple season is here! Grab your baskets and appetite and enjoy over 30 different varieties of apples at Ski-Hi Fruit Farm. Whether you are on your way to Devil’s Lake for the day or just stopping by to stock up, discover bluff-top views, fall colors, orchard sights, and friendly farmyard animals. Shop the Sunset Market on Thursday nights and enjoy crafty vendors, or make it an all-day event Friday and Saturdays until 6 p.m. Enjoy this fun fall tradition where you are sure to leave with full bellies and plenty of memories.
The name of this autumn celebration means “fun time” in the traditional language of the Native American Ho-Chunk people, according to the festival-throwers, and it’s an apt name for the three-day event. There’s an arts and crafts fair, antique flea market, epic sidewalk sale, and streetside carnival with concessions and rides all weekend long. There’s also a fun run to get your legs moving on Saturday, so you can enjoy finding a seat to watch the big 100-plus unit parade on Sunday.
Pull up your lederhosen and dust off your best dirndl. It’s Oktoberfest in downtown Baraboo. Each ticket includes a keepsake glass, a wristband for access, and a map lanyard with a list of spots to hit. Pick up your glass and then, from 6 to 9 p.m., you can pop into more than 12 participating locations boasting German spirit and serving craft beer samples. Buy your $30 ticket in advance. Glass pickup is at Bekah Kate’s.
The Reedsburg Fire Department hosts this annual small festival, which includes an arts and crafts fair with local artists and a chili lunch with coffee, soda, and hot dogs for a $6.50 donation. (Children under 5 are free.) Proceeds from the event are invested back into the fire department, which serves the town in a beautiful cycle of community support.
Farm Art DTour is a 10-day event celebrating “live culture.” It creates a space for the intermingling of farming, food, and art in Sauk County. The crown jewel of the festivities is the Farm/Art DTour, a self-guided expedition through 50 miles of farmland dotted with large-scale artworks made by seven artists from around the country, who were selected by a jury and commissioned to collaborate with local farmers and landowners and install their work in the farm fields. You can enjoy them throughout the route along with roadside food stands, pasture performances, and demonstrations by everyone from beekeepers to picklers to cheesemakers to poets, and anyone else who fits under the live culture umbrella.
The whole downtown of Baraboo seems to participate in this hopping semiannual festival, which showcases more than 170 artisans, who come to share their crafts and cuisines. Hop from booth to booth (and in and out of the brick-and-mortar boutiques) for everything from jewelry and accessories to art and home goods, made or sourced by Midwestern hands. When you’ve shopped until you’ve nearly dropped, the area has plenty of restaurants and food trucks waiting to serve you. There’s also live music, kids’ activities, and a farmer’s market so you can do some fresh produce and goods shopping too.
There’s some historical evidence to suggest brewing beer in Wisconsin began back in the 1830s, before Wisconsin even became a state. To say that concocting the perfect cold one is part of the state’s history is an understatement. This annual celebration raises a glass to the Wisconsin Dells’ brewing heritage with two days of sipping alongside other beer lovers. Enjoy the Dells Craft Beer Walk on Friday, where you can barhop to sample artisan brews at participating places downtown from 5 to 9 p.m. for $25 to $35. Saturday’s Dells On Tap is one of the Midwest’s biggest microbrew tasting festivals. Brewmasters come from far and wide to set up on the fairgrounds and present their most prized elixirs. General admission runs $50 to $65, while $75 to $90 VIP tickets include early access, a commemorative mug, and a pretzel necklace. Worth it for the pretzel necklace, if you ask us.
Owning art is a privilege, but knowing its maker is special. Every fall, Sauk County artists collaborate and open their studios to the public, allowing visitors an intimate look at how their work is brought to life. For three days, you can follow a tour map and cruise the hillsides of Sauk County from Spring Green to Baraboo, finding the studios of 49 artists, who make a variety of media including photography, sculpture, furniture, woodwork, paintings, ceramics, jewelry, and more. Some of the buildings are as fascinating as the art created within, including restored breweries, one-room schoolhouses, and historic storefronts.
Bumping along on a hayride to a pumpkin patch is lovely, but taking a train is exceptional. All aboard the Mid-Continent Railway’s 100-year-old restored steel coaches for a ride to Quartzite Lake, where you can hop off the train and pick a locally grown pumpkin to bring home. The ride, offered four times a day, is about an hour to Quartzite Lake and back to the railway museum, where you can check out all the preserved railroad cars from the “Golden Age of Railroading.” You can book tickets online in advance for $12 to $22 per person. (Children under 2 are free.) Bring cash if you want to purchase a pumpkin. The museum also offers a special Autumn Color Weekend ride and the Santa Express with the big man himself every year.
Spooky season hits Devil’s Lake State Park with a 3 p.m. pumpkin carving contest with categories for all ages and prizes that’ll have you carving competitively. (A one-year park sticker and Culver’s gift cards go to the winners.) Then, lace your boots up at 6 p.m. for a shadowy, 1-mile torch-lit hike followed by a warm campfire with s’mores, snake-themed crafts, and trivia led by the park’s resident naturalist.
This parade has all the bells, whistles, and twinkling lights to give even the Grinch the Yuletide warm fuzzies. See lighted floats, reindeer- and horse-drawn carriages, marching bands, and, of course, Saint Nick himself as they make their way through historic downtown Baraboo. Santa will be lighting the official downtown Baraboo holiday tree atop the Al Ringling Theater before visiting with kids and posing for family photos.
Autumn in Sauk County can only mean one thing — fall activities galore.