Waukesha County

Annual Apple Harvest Festival Returns to Retzer Nature Center with New Collaborations September 21

The Friends of Retzer Nature Center’s 33rd Annual Apple Harvest Festival returns to celebrate Waukesha’s beautiful autumn season on Saturday, September 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Retzer Nature Center, located at S14W28167 Madison Street in Waukesha. The festival features an apple market and a variety of apple foods along with family-friendly fun throughout the grounds. The event offers something for everyone including arts and crafts vendors, food and drink at the beer garden, live music, entertainers, and scores of activities thanks to local partners.


“I’m thrilled to have great local businesses and organizations join this festival to celebrate the season with our community,” said Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow. “These partnerships help support all the fun activities, food, drink, and homemade apple desserts that visitors come to enjoy. I can’t thank them enough for their collaboration.”


The Apple Market will have over 30 apple varieties and fresh apple cider from Brightonwoods Orchard and Patterson Orchards. Waukesha County Technical College’s Baking and Pastry Management students will be baking homemade apple pies and apple crisp using Retzer’s original recipes to be sold in the Dessert Room. Also for sale will be apple cider ice cream floats and caramel apples made from granny smith apples donated by Roundy’s Distribution Center and decorated with items from Meijer. The Delafield Brewhaus will be serving an assortment of food and beverages, including ‘Retzer Apple Ale’, in the Beer Garden.


The popular Children’s Area has been revamped and now includes many free activities for families. A mixture of interactive games and crafts will be available for all ages from local businesses and organizations. The popular Passport Expedition will be returning to engage visitors with nature and a new Toddler Zone will give the youngest guests a place to play. The Friends of Retzer Nature Center are sponsoring the free horse-drawn wagon rides, stories at the John and Florence Retzer Reading Corner, and the always delightful Scarecrow Lane.


Waukesha Reads will be highlighting Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren, as the 2019 ‘National Endowment for the Arts Big Read’ title with a free book giveaway during the event! Live entertainment includes folk music from Apple Jam Mt. Dulcimer Band, historical impersonators depicting Johnny Appleseed and Caroline Ingalls, and the whimsical Fairy Godmothers.


In addition to the apple items and activities, visitors can shop 40 arts and crafts vendors and bid on items at the Friends of Retzer Nature Center’s Silent Auction. Tickets will also be available for the Horwitz – DeRemer Planetarium show all about the Sun.


Admission is $10 per car, cash only. Friends of Retzer Nature Center members receive free admission.

For more information about becoming a Friends member, visit: www.friendsofretzer.org. For details on the festival call Retzer Nature Center (262) 896-8007, or visit www.waukeshacounty.gov/appleharvestfestival.


Full event schedule available below.


The Friends of Retzer Nature Center’s Apple Harvest Festival Schedule of Events




Apple Market and Apple Cider Sales

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Shop apple varieties and fresh apple cider. *While supplies last

Dessert Room: Apple Pies, Apple Crisps, Caramel Apples, and Apple Cider Floats

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Single slice or whole desserts available.

*While supplies last

Art & Craft Fair

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Shop 40 vendors demonstrating and selling. Paintings, woodworking, soaps, jewelry, photos, textiles, and more!

Waukesha Reads Book Giveaway


9 a.m. – 3 p.m.


Get your copy of Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren. Then experience hikes around Retzer from our own “Lab Girls”.

*While supplies last

Friends of Retzer Nature Center’s

Silent Auction

9 a.m. – 3 p.m.


Benefiting Friends of Retzer Nature Center. Bid on unique items.

Delafield Brewhaus Beer Garden

9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.


Family-friendly food, snacks, and beverages. Beer for ages 21+.

Live Folk Music at the Beer Garden

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Performances by Apple Jam Mt. Dulcimer Band at the Beer Garden.

Entertainers: Johnny Appleseed, Caroline Ingalls and

The Fairy Godmothers

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Be entertained and learn about the history of apples, life on the prairie, and discover a little magic from the fairies.

Horwitz – DeRemer

Planetarium Shows


9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

*Show runs every 30 min.

Planetarium Show: The Sun, Our Living Star – Discover the secrets of our and see never-before-seen images of the sun’s violent surface. $2.00/person.

Scarecrow Lane

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Stroll the paved walkway and view the Scarecrows while enjoying the outdoors.

Children’s Area – Free!

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Play games, make crafts, and learn with local businesses and organizations!

Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides – Free!

11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Ride the wagon throughout the grounds of Retzer Nature Center.

Toddler Zone – Free!

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Play geared towards the younger ones!

John and Florence Retzer

Reading Corner – Free!

9 a.m. – 3 p.m.


Fun kids’ stories read by local celebrities and volunteers.

Passport Expedition – Free!

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Explore nature with this fun guide. Begin at the John and Florence Retzer Reading Corner.