By Mel Grau
Roasting s’mores, swapping ghost stories, laughing with family under the stars—it’s all done around a summer bonfire. A nightly ritual for campers, summer fires in Wisconsin have a special spark. They’re grounded in a combination of Scandinavian folklore and tradition, modern wonder and sparkling originality. Here are the top five Wisconsin fires you don’t want to miss:
Fyr Bal Festival – Ephraim
For a half-century, the Fyr (meaning “fire” in Norwegian) Bal Festival in Door County has acknowledged Scandinavian summer solstice tradition by lighting big bonfires. This Midsummer’s Eve event uses fire to protect against evils spirits and welcome the transition from Spring to Summer. Dotting Eagle Harbor, the raging fires warm up the night before festival fireworks light up the sky.
Don’t miss the Scandinavian food, music, fire and fun in this charming bayside community.
If you attend the Fyr Ball Festival, take the opportunity to explore the rest of Door County and eat at a fiery fish boil. Not a campfire by any means, fish boils still burn bright as a Wisconsin-Scandinavian delicacy. Like they did one-hundred years ago, local fishermen catch whitefish and cook them in boiling water with red potatoes and sometimes salt and onions. Flames will engulf the cast-iron kettle at the boil-over point, creating a spectacle only surpassed by the delicious meal that follows.
Don’t miss this original fish boil, and come hungry for both food and hot entertainment.
Want to experience nature at night? Now walking through Wisconsin’s state parks in darkness is possible through the DNR’s popular summer candlelight hikes. Lit by tiki torches, paths that hug Wisconsin shorelines, cross over sand dunes and delve into thick forests will lead you to awe-inspiring experiences with the whole family.
Don’t miss a hike you’ll like—Summer Candlelight Hike at Kohler Andrae State Park, Candlelight Beach Walk at Whitefish Dunes State Park, Candlelight Hike at Richard Bong State Recreation Area and After Summer Candlelight Hike at Harrington Beach State Park to name a few.
Follow the firelight to discover Wisconsin’s natural wonders at night!
Marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers—three essential ingredients for the famous campfire treat that leaves everyone asking for more. If you thought the gooey dessert couldn’t get better, think again. In Wisconsin, you can add more excitement to the s’mores tradition at Jazzed-Up Marshmallows from Lake Mills. Here, homemade marshmallows in mouthwatering flavors like cookies & cream or salted caramel make unconventional substitutions to the classic recipe.
Don’t miss out on the newest wave of delectable jazzed-up s’mores—celebrate by camping at Sandhill Station State Campground on National S’mores Day.
Like campfire camaraderie, but love what’s roasting over the fire more? The Audacious Beer & BBQ Celebration is for you. Though widely known for sausage making, Wisconsin is becoming a hotbed for barbeque experimentation and expertise. Chefs play with fire and food, cooking pork with charcoal, gas or even at the pit. The masters pay as much attention to smoke as flame, but it all starts with the local meat. To complement the BBQ, you can choose from more than 100 craft brews, including local favorites like Booyah from Milwaukee Brewing Company or Hinterland Brewery’s Door County Cherry Wheat.
Don’t miss “Friday Fired Up” for a BBQ tasting experience unlike any other. Learn BBQ secrets directly from award-winning chefs as you sip on a local Leinenkugel.