As we all remember and honor our fallen service members this weekend we thank them all for their service to our country. Brat Fest is an annual Memorial Day festival in Madison, Wisconsin where we celebrate the mighty bratwurst. It is a giant gathering of folks to listen to music, drink some beverages, eat some brats and raise funds for over one hundred local charities. It has grown over the last 30 years and now is three days long. Over 3,200 volunteers help at the grills, serve food, keep things clean and safe. They each earn $8 per hour, which is donated back to their charity of choice and the end of the event. Over the years more than $1.5 million has been raised. If you can’t be there in person a broad selection of Wisconsin brats are available at Wisconsinmade.com.
Bacon Cheddar Bratwurst
Mushroom Swiss Cheese Brats
International Bratwurst Sampler
University of Wisconsin Union Bratwurst
Memorial Day Weekend signifies the start of summer, and I love summer in Wisconsin. I grew up in the South where the sweltering months were spent hiding inside in the air conditioning since it was way too hot to do anything outside. In the Midwest, people have a hunger to get outside and soak up some sun while they can. Every weekend there is a laundry list of festivals, fairs, farmer’s markets, organized races…plenty of activities to choose from. You can’t go wrong, unless of course, you spend the weekend inside! Here are some fun foodie events that will get you out and about this Memorial Day weekend.
The World’s Largest Brat Fest- If you had to attend only one event on Memorial Day Weekend in Madison, this should be it. Stop by day or night to ride the rides, eat some brats, rock out to some live music, and say hello to the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Last year Brat fest visitors consumed a world record 209,276 brats. Put on your eatin’ pants and try and break the record again in 2012.
Dane County Farmer’s Market – The Dane County Farmer’s Market is a foodie’s dream come true. Fruits, veggies, cheeses and more are sold by food producers that travel from throughout Wisconsin to be at this world famous market. As a Madison “townie”, my first stop is always the Stella’s Bakery stand. Buy a half of a loaf of spicy cheese bread, fresh out of the oven and viola, breakfast!
Green County Breakfast on the Farm – While not technically in Madison, this family friendly event is a short drive from the city. There are wagon rides and a petting zoo for the kids, an art fair for the adults, and everyone will enjoy the hearty farm breakfast that’s topped off with an ice cream sundae.
209,376 bratwursts were consumed at Madison, Wisconsin’s annual Memorial Day Weekend Bratwurst Festival. Madison’s Brat Fest is the World’s Largest Bratwurst Festival. Starting modestly with a few bratwursts on a Weber grill outside a Madison grocery store in 1983, Brat Fest has grown into a fairground festival entertaining Madison area families with live bands, dancing, carnival rides, Wisconsin specialty foods, and BRATWURSTS!
It now takes 5000 volunteers to support the festival. Many are behind the world’s largest outdoor food counter and serve the thousands of bratwursts, hot dogs, and veggie burgers (only bratwursts count in the record-breaking tally). Wisconsin celebrities and politicians are among those counter-volunteers taking the bratwurst orders. Bratwurst festival proceeds are donated to dozens of Wisconsin charities.
Madison’s rally cry is “Eat a Brat For Charity!” and Wisconsinites step up to the plate. Folks come from all over, guided by the mustard-yellow light that’s been illuminating the Wisconsin state capital building for the past week.