Walworth County Summer Events for Families are Just a Short Drive from Chicago

If you are visiting the Lake Geneva area this summer, Walworth County has plenty for you to do this summer. A local shares top tips.

As a Chicago-area mom, one of my favorite things about a trip to Walworth County, Wisconsin, is enjoying what the locals do and that includes summer festivals. If you plan to visit the Lake Geneva area this summer, you’ll want to take a side trip and enjoy the small town charm of WalCo’s summer festival season

I spoke with David Desimone, director of Black Point Estate and Gardens, a 7-year veteran of the Walworth County Visitors Bureau and a WalCo resident for 12, to get his top recommendations for families as well as inside tips.

Walworth County Dairy Breakfast, Sharon

Begin your WalCo summer adventure with the Walworth County Dairy Breakfast, now in its 47th year. Hosted at the five-generation Davis Family Farm, the event takes place on June 15 from 6-10:30 a.m.

“This is a fantastic farm-to-table breakfast that showcases what farm life and food production are all about,” says Desimone. 

Dairy Beakfast
Photo Credit: Walworth County Tourism Bureau

Indulge in all the usual hearty fare like eggs, pancakes and sausage. Plus, there are free farm tours and activities for kids.

Tip: Ice cream will be served at this summer breakfast!

4th of July Fest, Whitewater

If you are looking to celebrate a good old-fashioned 4th, Desimone says you won’t want to miss the 4th of July Fest in Whitewater at Cravath Lake. This four-day event runs from July 3-6. Family Day is on July 6 with a free petting zoo, pony rides and camel rides.

“This event has it all: carnival rides, games, great food, music and plenty of parking,” says Desimone. “Plus, you can count on an impressive fireworks show.” 

Photo Credit: Walworth County Tourism Bureau

Among its many activities, the festival boasts a car show that includes a kids’ carnival and live music. “Whitewater is a small college town with a big heart,” says Desimone. “They go all out for this festival.”

Tip: Desimone says that if you and the kids want to get away from the crowds for a while, make a stop at Whitewater’s nearby historic train depot which houses a small museum managed by the local historical society. “It’s a perfect blend of fun and history,” Desimone notes. 

East Troy Music Festival, East Troy

This three-day event on June 28-30 features live folk music from regional and local artists. There is also a parade and fireworks display. Plus, with a recently revitalized town square with restaurants, a bookstore and a craft brewery, Desimone says that East Troy is a convenient and fun day trip for Chicagoans.

“You can drive up and spend a whole day here, enjoying music, food and the car show, and still be back in your own bed by 10 pm,” he says.”

Tip: “Parking in East Troy is ample and free. Everything is convenient to the music festival, so once you are parked you don’t have to move your car,” says Desimone.

Elkhorn Ribfest, Elkhorn

Held at the Walworth County Fairgrounds from July 10-14, the festival features mouth-watering BBQ, entertainment and fun activities for the whole family including carnival rides for the kids. 

“This festival brings the entire community together,” says Desimone.

Tip: If you plan to be in the Williams Bay area, Ribfest is just a short drive away.

REV-UP Weekend featuring The Cars Time Forgot Annual Car Show, Delavan

Taking place on July 12-14, this is more than a classic car show. It’s a three-day celebration of summer that takes place at Delavan’s popular Lake Lawn Resort. In addition to festive food trucks and a beer tent, the event also features a family-friendly Kid Zone.

Enjoy nostalgia at a community-wide street dance featuring The Breakfast Club, an 80s cover band. The event wraps up with a car parade in downtown Delavan featuring up to 100 cars and a concert by A Long Way Home, a Supertramp tribute band. 

Tip: “Classic cars and cool vehicles are parked all over the Delavan property. If you have kids into trucks or cars, they will be blown away,” says Desmione.

Geneva Lake West Rotary Annual Corn and Bratwurst Festival, Walworth

No trip to Wisconsin is complete without enjoying two summer favorites: brats and corn. This community-wide celebration taking place on Aug. 3 is a tribute to Midwestern summer delicacies and old-fashioned charm.

Your ticket includes two roasted ears of corn plus grilled bratwurst, live entertainment, a beer tent and more. Proceeds benefit local charities.

“As a member of Rotary, I was involved with this event for years. There are about 2,000 people in Walworth, Wisconsin, and I think every single resident comes out for this,” says Desimone. “When Walworth puts on an event, they make it the absolute best it can be.”

Tip: Get your brats on the go with a convenient drive-through service.

Roun’da Manure Bicycle Tour, Sharon

For families who enjoy outdoor activities, the Roun’da Manure bicycle ride on Aug. 17 offers a scenic tour through farm country. 

“That’s where the ‘Manure’ part of the name comes from,” jokes Desimone. “It’s a beautiful ride through pretty countryside, with options for both short and long routes, so families of all ages can feel free to participate.”

Bicycle ride
Photo Credit: Walworth County Tourism Bureau

Don’t worry about working up an appetite: The event culminates in a pig roast feast.

Tip: “The well-marked bike route includes stops for local ice cream shops and other treats,” says Desimone.

Lake Geneva Venetian Festival, Lake Geneva

This family-friendly, multi-day festival runs from Aug. 14-18. The festival features a lakeside  craft fair, carnival, water ski show and traditional festival food. The event culminates with a Venetian Style lighted boat parade and a spectacular fireworks display over Geneva Lake. 

“The Lake Geneva Venetian Festival is one of my favorites,” says Desimone. “The celebration takes place right near the water and for Chicago-area families, it happens right before kids head back to school and is the perfect way to end the summer.”

Photo credit: Walworth County Tourism Bureau

Tip: The Venetian Boat Parade takes place on Saturday, Aug. 17 and can be viewed from anywhere along the lakeshore. 

Bonus tip: The Jaycees are handing out free glow sticks for the kids at the Venetian boat parade.

Walworth County Fair, Elkhorn

Celebrate 175 years of tradition and community spirit at the Walworth County Fair from Aug. 28-Sept. 2. This year’s theme, “Stars, Stripes and Fair Delights,” promises fun for the whole family. 

“This is a truly special event that celebrates summer in the Midwest with lots for kids to do,” says Desimone. “And it’s just a short drive from Lake Geneva.”

Visit the Barnyard Adventure and Discovery Barn for kid-friendly activities and attractions including sensory and global gardens, a butterfly release, livestock demonstrations and more.

Photo Credit: Walworth County Tourism Bureau

Kids can join junior competitions in Legos, cooking, arts and crafts, and enjoy free Pinewood Derby kits and races. Check out new attractions like The Walking Tree of Life and Dino Encounters Show. 

Tip: For families who have sensory needs, the fair is hosting Sensory Friendly Time on Aug. 30. Registration is required. 

The summer festivals in Walworth County are a special treat, says Desimone. “Our smaller towns host a smaller number of events, so when they do put on a festival they take a lot of pride in it. You’re in for a great experience.”

For more information on Walworth County and to plan your trip, visit gowalco.com. For a complete list of favorite WalCo events click here.

Jennifer Kales
Jennifer Kales
Content editor Jennifer Kales has been in the business of writing for more than 20 years creating advertising copy, blogs, books and everything in between. She loves helping Chicago Parent clients tell their stories in a way that resonates with audiences.


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