Illustrations by Alex Bracken

Menu of the Midwest
 A look into food festivals across the Midwest.
Illinois: Milk Days 
Milk Days is an annual festival held in Harvard, Ill. The festival began in 1942 as a way to honor dairy farmers and industry during war times. Events include a milk drinking contest, a talent show and a parade.
Rosedale, Ind., is the site of the annual Rosedale Strawberry Festival. Claiming to have “the best home-baked shortcakes in Indiana,” the festival has a strawberry eating contest, a strawberry baking competition, and a pageant.
The Wurst Festival in Amana, Iowa, is a celebration of everything German and  sausage. While sausages are at the center of the festival, there are also unique events like the Dachshund Derby and the Masskrugstemmen Competition, during which contestants battle to see who can hold a full stein of beer in one outstretched hand for the longest amount of time.
Around 1445 in Olney, England, a woman was making pancakes when she heard the church bells ringing and ran to church, holding her skillet and pancakes. The community began recreating this race off and on until 1950, when a government leader in Liberal, Kansas, challenged the women of Olney to an official race. Every year since 1950, the two cities have held their own Pancake Day races in friendly competition. In Liberal, the race has grown to a four-day event with a wide variety of activities.
The National Cherry Festival is an eight-day festival held in Traverse City, Mich. With an average attendance totaling around 500,000, the festival is a popular attraction in northern Michigan. Each year a National Cherry Queen is selected to serve as the ambassador for the festival. 
Minnesota: Potato Days
Potato picking and peeling contests, the Miss Tater Tot Pageant and mashed potato sculptures can all be found at the Potato Days festival in Barnesville, Minn. 
The World Series of Barbeque is a four-day festival that centers around the largest barbeque competition in the world. Featuring live music and lots of BBQ, the festival is a large draw in Kansas City, Mo.
The AppleJack Festival is a celebration of apples that’s spread over three weekends in Sept. and Oct. The event also features a car show, water barrel fights, and a baking competition.
North Dakota: Ribfest 
Ribs are at the center of Watford City’s annual Ribfest in North Dakota. Along with the rib competition, there is also live music, a cornhole tournament, and a car show.
The Preble County Pork Festival began in 1970 as a way to celebrate the county’s pork-producing industry. The festival features events like pig races, hog-calling contests, and concerts.
South Dakota: Chislic Festival 
Chislic, a dish that consists of skewered cubes of red meat like lamb or mutton, is a dish that has become associated with the state of South Dakota. The festival is only three years old, and started after South Dakota named chislic the official food of the state.
Wisconsin: Cheese Days 
Known as America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin is famous around the nation for its dairy production industry. Held in Monroe, Wis., Cheese Days celebrates the history and importance of cheese to the state’s economy.