Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson has ended its sponsorship of Summerfest after more than two decades, the festival’s operator, Milwaukee World Festival, announced today.
The company has sponsored the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage at Henry Maier Festival Park since 1997. The sponsorship also included a company representative on the MWF board.
“Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. is grateful for the two decades that Harley-Davidson was a major sponsor of Summerfest, but that time has come to an end,” MWF said in a statement Thursday.
MWF and Harley signed a five-year contract extension for the Roadhouse stage in 2017.
Harley said in a statement that the decision to end its sponsorship reflects the company's "overhaul" of its business as part of its "Rewire" strategy.
“As we overhaul our business and execute The Rewire, every function and process is being rebuilt from the ground up to prioritize our efforts and drive sharper focus, including The Harley-Davidson Foundation. We celebrate the Summerfest memories created through the years and will continue to provide essential support to the Milwaukee community through our foundation giving.”
Financial details of the sponsorship were not disclosed.
Over the years, the Roadhouse has hosted a diverse lineup of acts, including Keith Urban, Pitbull, Hall & Oates, Scorpions, Wiz Khalifa, The Doobie Brothers, Lil Uzi Vert, Louis The Child and Sugarland.
“As times change, Summerfest, the Milwaukee business community, and our sponsors evolve, bringing new opportunities,” MWF’s statement said. “All of us at Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. are looking forward to a new chapter of the festival in 2021, including bringing on new partners to grow Summerfest. The magic of music is at the core of the Summerfest experience, and the same world-class performances will live on, allowing a new generation of performers and fans to create festival memories.”
MWF canceled Summerfest this year for the first time in the festival’s 53-year history amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It is planning to resume the festival in 2021, when it will hold a grand opening for the new American Family Insurance Amphitheater, which has undergone a $53 million renovation over the past two years.
Summerfest announced last month Northwestern Mutual is sponsoring a $2 million redevelopment of the Northwestern Mutual Children’s Theater & Playzone, which will be converted into a 54,000-square-foot community park.