It’s Summerfest time! Summerfest is the largest music festival in the world. It is so big the Rolling Stones opened the festival on one of the stages—there were 10 other stages having music at the same time. I have only missed one year of the Fest in the last thirty years. So much music, so much variety. Big name bands and local bands. And let’s not forget about the food and beverage. And people watching! You are guaranteed some goth kids and at least one tube top!
For those not familiar with Summerfest, here is a brief history from
“The vision for Summerfest was the brainchild of the late Mayor Henry Maier in the 1960s. Following a visit to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, Mayor Maier dreamed of a festival for the people that would revitalize Milwaukee’s downtown and bring the community together. In 1968, the first Summerfest debuted at 35 separate locations throughout the city.
In 1970, the festival moved to Milwaukee’s lakefront, specifically to an abandoned 15-acre Nike missile site. Stages consisted of wooden platforms raised on concrete blocks. By the middle of the decade, however, permanent stages and structures began making an appearance and more aesthetic improvements were made.
By the 1980s, more permanent stages and structures appeared on the grounds, a long-term lease agreement was reached with the City of Milwaukee and the future of Summerfest was bright. In 1983, turnstiles were added at the admission gates allowing for accurate attendance tracking. In 1983, 657,429 patrons attended Summerfest and by the end of the decade that number rose to 830,500. In 1987 the Marcus Amphitheater, a 23,000-seat, state-of-the-art entertainment venue opened and would soon be host to the top touring acts in the world.
Over the years, the permanent 75-acre festival site has seen tremendous growth and enhancements, including capital improvements, new partners, vendors and exhibits… Summerfest will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2017.”
Here are the Top 10 reasons (in no particular order) why I love Summerfest:
1. Saz’s (BBQ restaurant) sampler-mozzarella stick, fried cheese curds and sour cream and chive fries.
2. Milwaukee beers that aren’t Miller-Lakefront, Water Street and I will even throw in Leinenkugels.
3. Beautiful views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding area.
4. Public transportation via Metro bus from the ‘burbs where I am to downtown where the festival is-pay once and just hop on when you are ready to leave.
5. Corn on the cob
6. Gyros
7. Live music on 11 stages from noon to midnight. Don’t like what’s playing? Walk to the next stage.
8. Shopping. I had toe rings put on my toes about 10 years ago that I still have.
9. Dancing on picnic tables.
10. Punching in. When G and I would arrive at the Fest, we would “punch in”, which meant it was time for the first beer.
Lots of memories over the last thirty years of that festival. My friend G and I would take the whole week off when we were younger, and not only go every day, but get there at noon and leave at midnight. I remember when beers where “2 and Q”, $2.25. Now they are more like $6.00. And the cups actually have fill lines on them. We always tried to find the person who would pour to the top. Times were tough in our 20’s!
Weather was all important, because as you know, it is “cooler by the lake”. That could me 10-15 degrees cooler. There were always days you were overdressed and days you were underdressed and had to spring for the Summerfest sweatshirt. And if rain was predicted? We would literally stare at the horizon to the west because you could see the front approach. When it got close you had to find cover. If you got wet it was time to go home. If you survived the rain, you could stay longer. Back in the day cover was hard to find, so you had to hunt it down, take note, and be close when the rain hit. Later they built more shelter. Guess the Fest discovered if people stayed dry they stayed longer too.
It is truly an amazing experience, and I am so fortunate that I get to go back. But now that I am older, how I experience Summerfest is a bit different. We go early, and are usually home early—don’t want to be there when it’s crowded. And we spend more time thinking about what we want to eat and where we are going to sit as opposed to the music. We go with my mom and dad. If we don’t leave with them, my mom comes and picks us up from the bus stop.
I can’t wait to get there and smell the smells and see the sights and taste the food and beer. Thirty years of memories will come flooding back and put a huge smile on my face. Ironically, a smiley face is the Summerfest logo. Now I know where they got it.
I am signing off until July 6th. Enjoy yourselves, be safe, and above all, celebrate the wonderful freedom the U.S. provides and protects.

One Reply to “It’s Summerfest time!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: