Episode 24: Local Fare and the Bayfield County Fair

Mary Motiff and Emily Kovach-Erickson recording the Bayfield County Wild podcast

Episode 24: Local Fare and the Bayfield County Fair

From the farm or the lake to your home or restaurant, Bayfield County serves up some of the best fresh, locally sourced food in the state. In this episode, we talk about the area’s farm-fresh goodness, what’s in season right now, the best fish to catch on Lake Superior, and some of local specialties and delicacies you just have to try. Plus, get ready for the 125th anniversary of the Bayfield County Fair! It’s a family-friendly and affordable celebration you won’t want to miss. Here are some highlights from this episode of Bayfield County Wild.

Bayfield County’s Local Bounty 

August is one of the “berry” best times to be in Bayfield County. There is a microclimate in the hills surrounding Bayfield that is perfect for growing strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries as well as apples and other fruit. You can still find raspberries and blueberries this month and some varieties of apples are in season starting in September. According to Mary Motiff, Director of Bayfield County Tourism, some varieties of apples will likely be available to pick through October. There are more than a dozen orchards and fruit farms in the Bayfield area, as well as many more farms around the county that raise grass-fed beef, pork and free-range chicken. There are also lots of value-added local products including cheese, fermented foods, honey, jams & jellies and maple syrup. And don’t forget the bakery and desserts made with local ingredients!

Lake Superior is a great place to fish, particularly for lake trout, whitefish and herring. Many of the commercial fishermen sell fresh and smoked fish and create delectable spreads that are great to take on the road. Some of the local specialties and delicacies include trout cheeks (which kind of look like scallops) and whitefish livers which are available at some of the local restaurants.

It is hard to find a restaurant that doesn’t serve farm-to-table food options in Bayfield County. To find out what’s on the menu at local eateries, check out the  Bayfield County website’s interactive map and click on the “restaurants” and “specialty foods” tabs under the “EAT” category.

The Fairest of the Fairs 

Mary says she really isn’t biased when she tells people that Bayfield County puts on a really great County Fair. And this year, there is even more to celebrate because it is the 125th anniversary of the first Bayfield County Fair which took place in 1894. Located on the fairgrounds in Iron River, this year’s Fair takes place Thursday, Aug. 8 through Sunday, Aug. 11 with amazing grandstand events, live music, family fun and carnival rides all included in the price of admission.

This year’s grandstand events include bull-riding with real bulls and cowboys vying for a cash prize and the coveted buckle that goes with it. Plus, there’s “Mutton Busting” on sheep for kids during intermission on Friday night (pre-registration required). Earlier that afternoon is the kids’ pedal tractor pull where the winners can qualify to compete at the state level. On Saturday, there’s an antique tractor pull and then that night the Cincinnati Circus comes to town with live, aerial acts and flame-throwing jugglers. On Sunday, the fair closes out with a mini-Power Wheels race followed by the Dirt Dash Race that is a combination demolition derby and figure 8 race, and Native American drum, dance and storytelling.

Food is always a big draw at the Bayfield County Fair and Summer Fair Assistant Emily Kovach-Erickson says you’ll find fan favorites like corn dogs, cotton candy, funnel cakes and fresh-squeezed lemonade, as well as new options like the Island Eats Food Truck with fresh, healthier entrees like spicy rice bowls and vegetarian burritos.

Family fun is abundant at the Fair with carnival rides and games, a stilt-walking magician, comedy jugglers, face painting and a petting zoo. The barns are filled with prize-winning cows, horses, rabbits, chickens, pigs, sheep and goats and fair-goers can see over 5,000 entries including photography, flowers, canned and baked goods, woodworking, cultural arts, knitting and more. (Insider tip: most items are judged on Friday so you can see which ones earned a ribbon after that).

Since this is the 125th year of the Bayfield County Fair, Mary says there will definitely be cake! There will also be limited edition t-shirts for sale and a few more surprises. You just have to come to the Fair to see what’s in store. Daily admission is $12, which includes grandstand shows and carnival rides - almost everything except food and games, or you can get a $30 pass for the entire weekend. On Thursday the price of admission is only $10 and on Friday, Seniors 65 and older also get in for $10. Kids four and under get in free every day and parking is also free. For more information about the Fair, visit www.bayfieldcounty.wi.gov/fair or check out the Bayfield County Fair Facebook page.


Aug. 1 – 4:                 Port Wing Plein Air Painting Festival Contest

Aug. 2 - 4:                 Grand View Firehouse 50

Aug. 3:                       Herbster Corn & Brat Festival

Aug. 8 – 11:              Bayfield County Fair in Iron River

Aug. 10 – 11:             Cornucopia Days

Aug. 10:                     Herbster Studio Art Tour

Aug. 17:                      Ruckus in the Woods music festival in Barnes, WI

Aug. 23:                     South Shore Enduro on the CAMBA Trails in Mt. Ashwabay

Aug. 27 – Sept. 14:  Apostle Islands Lighthouse Celebration

Aug. 31:                     Port Wing’s  61st Annual Fish Boil & 31st Annual Arts & Crafts Show

Also, check out the live music at Big Top Chautauqua and the music festivals in Cornucopia and Bayfield, at the Rookery Pub in Cable and at Legendary Waters Resort & Casino.

View the full schedule of events on our website and Facebook page.

September Preview

Cideries are growing in popularity and Bayfield County does not disappoint when it comes to producing tasty hard ciders and apple ciders. Get ready for all things apple!

Affiliate Notes

Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center

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Copper Crow Distillery

When you visit Copper Crow Distillery, you will truly get a taste of the Northwoods. Using fresh, regional ingredients, Copper Crow creates small, distinctive batches of vodka, rum and gin inspired by the spirit and purity of Lake Superior. The modern building is nestled in the pines and has plenty of outdoor seating. Their creative craft cocktails are sure to give you a taste of the area you won’t forget.