Calendar a mess? Got some time to burn but no idea where to burn it? We're in the opening weeks of the early fall festival season here in Madison, and I've rounded up a few that are happening in the next four weeks or so, all for you.
Saturday, 9/6: Karben4's second annual Dilly Dally, at the brewery located on Kinsman Boulevard in Madison
Last year's inaugural Dilly Dally was a good event, with great brewer representation and some really exceptional fry-to-order work being done by Tipsy Cow. To be able to get a fresh, hot, crisp PBR-battered fish taco A) on a day other than Thursday, B) outdoors, and C) surrounded by beers that even Tipsy Cow doesn't serve on tap is a beautiful thing. A slightly steep price tag at $35, but the pours flow freely. Food is extra.
Sunday, 9/7: Yum Yum Fest, put on by the Madison Area Chefs Network, at Madison's Central Park
At first glance, it seems like an odd ticket. $15 for a food festival ticket that gets you no food directly? Ah, but then you look at the lineup of chefs, from Madison's best restaurants, and the one-off stuff they're cooking, and it starts to make sense. And then you see that some great beer is pouring, including Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout (maybe not the ideal late summer/early fall sunny afternoon beer, but who's complaining?), and things really come into focus. And THEN you see the musical lineup, which should be a pretty fun set, and really, why haven't you bought a ticket yet? $15 for general admission is all that's left (VIP and earlybird tickets sold out).
Friday, 9/12: Wurst Oktoberfest, Isthmus' new fall festival, at Madison's Central Park
Starting to see a theme here? Central Park is already the go-to destination for food and entertainment events, just weeks after its grand opening. Isthmus is rolling out the barrels as well as a lot of hearty Germanic food (okay, and some sweet corn) for its first Oktoberfest, plus a little oompah to cure what ails ya. $25 gets you unlimited food sampling. Beer is extra.
This used to happen right in front of my house when I lived on Willy, and it's a pretty great vibe. Lots of food, lots of music, lots of weird. Just show up, man.
Friday, 9/19 though Sunday, 9/21: Green County Cheese Days, in downtown Monroe
A little bit of a drive, but for this every-other-year event, it's probably worth it. Show the state, the nation, and the world that you still appreciate great Old World-style cheeses even if the regulatory climate is wonky as hell these days.
Friday, 9/26: Crackle Fire and Froth, at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison
This event always seems to sell out quickly, so grab your $25 non-member ticket ($20 for members) before it's too late and you have to wait another year. If you love fall, this should be your kind of gig. Music, bonfire, food and drink, all in the incredibly lovely surroundings of the botanical gardens. Plus the Conservatory has those nifty color-shifting lights now, which should provide a cool backdrop.
Saturday, 10/4: Stalzy's Oktoberfest, in the parking lot at Stalzy's Deli on Atwood Avenue in Madison
This has turned into a neighborhood winner, a must-visit for those who live on the east side. Just a plain old parking lot party, with a stage, and a beer tent, and sausage. It goes all day, and into the night, and if the weather's good or bad, it seems to always be just the right level of crowded. Start your day with a coffee at Victory across the street, maybe a pastry or something, and you've got a perfect fall Saturday.