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Wisconsin is classified 4F, and those in the know boast of that designation with no small amount of pride. After all, it's fellowship, fun, food and foolery for which the state is noted, not flat feet. All can be harvested in abundance as summer begins its protracted (cross fingers here) departure from the landscape.
If your idea of fellowship constitutes the sharing of similar interests or experiences in a congenial atmosphere, you've come to the right state. The residents of Chippewa Falls invite all upstanding citizens who value the merits of a respectable beverage to celebrate Pure Water Days, August 11-12. Toast your drinking companions with a glass of sparkling spring bubbly, then enjoy the citywide festival featuring a parade, fireworks, live music and more. 1-888-723-0024.
Two-wheel enthusiasts will grease gears together during the Nicolet Wheel-A-Way on September 1; the 30- and 40-mile bike tour begins in Three Lakes and passes through the beautiful Nicolet National Forest. 1-800-972-6103.
Birds of a feather do stick together, it seems, as the curators at Wausau's Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum well know. The museum's 26th annual Birds in Art exhibition opens September 8 and runs through November 4. The display highlights birds in more than 110 original works of art, including oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings; batik; and bronze, marble and wood sculpture. On September 29, the museum hosts OctoBIRDfest, an outdoor family festival featuring children's games, craft activities and entertainment. (715) 845-7010.
Find fun under a late-afternoon sun by getting lost...in a cornfield. At the Grossen Farm in Argyle, you can wander through two miles of paths in the 8-acre Windmill Hill Corn Maze, a life-sized puzzle cut into a cornfield in the shape of a giant windmill. It's open now through October 31. (608) 465-3386. In Campbellsport, ramble from nose to tail in the Llama Corn Maze, open now through September 30. For reservations, call (920) 994-9294.
Wisconsin isn't only a feast for the eyes. Let your stomach be satiated at Cumberland's Rutabaga Festival, August 22-26. It's difficult to put into print the things these folks do with a common root vegetable. Go see (and taste) for yourself. (715) 822-3378. Feast with the beasts when chefs from 28 of Milwaukee's best restaurants flip crepes Suzette and other delicacies in the friendly, if fragrant, confines of the Milwaukee County Zoo, August 16-19. (414) 256-5412. Grab the Rolaids and get thee to Green Lake, where the Wisconsin State Chili Cookoff will blast off on September 8. Contestants stew over steaming cauldrons of secret-recipe, four-alarm, to beans or not-to-beans concoctions in hopes of gaining a berth at the World Champion Chili Cook-Off in Las Vegas. Visitors are welcome to sample the chili, which will be auctioned off at the end of the day. (920) 294-6504. Still hungry? Hold on until September 29th for Minocqua's 37th annual Beef-A-Rama, featuring the famous "Parade of Beef" and tasty beef sandwiches. (715) 356-5266, 1-800-446-6784.
To end this foray into 4F Wisconsin, fall in for a little foolery. Sporting types in Lake Tomahawk just can't wait for winter, so on August 13 they'll leave their cleats in the dugout and don snowshoes instead for nine innings of Snowshoe Baseball at the Lake Tomahawk Ballpark. Slide, slide! (715) 277-2116. Or stroll the streets of downtown Sturgeon Bay and let 32 decorated 10-foot-long sturgeon sculptures swim into your imagination. The big fish are on display until August 25, when they will be sold by auction. One could make a nice conversation piece for the coffee table. (920) 743-5958.
Finally, to see all of the people fooled all of the time, watch closely while the Houdini Club of Wisconsin hosts its 63rd annual Magic Convention in Appleton on August 31-September 1. More than 200 magicians will gather to dazzle and astound the public with incredible feats of clairvoyance and legerdemain. Poof! (608) 274-9411 or 1-800-2DO-MORE.