Insiders give sneak peek at Summerfest

Every year, the folks operating Milwaukee’s Summerfest make improvements to the grounds and tweak the patron experience at The Big Gig.

After all, if they didn’t, the headline performances would still be taking place in the mud in front of wooden benches on the north end of the grounds.

This year is no different. BizTimes asked Summerfest marketing coordinator Jess Meiller and chief marketing officer John Boler to give our readers an insider’s preview of what will be new on the grounds for this year’s festival, which will run June 26-30 and July 2-7 (The festival will once again take a pause on Monday, July 1).

Here is their Top 10 list of cool new things at this year’s festival:

  • Celebrate Summerfest on the water in paddleboats. Presented by Badger Meter, this family friendly activity provided by Lakeshore Paddle Sports will give patrons the opportunity to relax and take in views of the festival and downtown Milwaukee from the water. The boats hold up to four people for $8 per person, and they’re located at the boat dock on the north end of the grounds.
  • Enjoy a show from the air with the Summerfest Skydive Shows, happening June 26-28, July 2 and July 7 at 2:30 pm.
  • The #SFLIVE Lounge, located inside the Columbia St-Mary’s Cool Down Lounge, will offer interactive fan experiences.
  • Help “The World’s Largest Music Festival” smile on in a big way with the Summerfest Big Smile Photo Opportunity. Presented by ForwardDental, fans are encouraged to register online to participate, then come to Summerfest on Sunday, July 7, to pick up a red Smile On T-shirt and help create the Summerfest smile with hundreds of other fans. Participants will form the smile, be photographed from above. For more information and to register, visit
  • Wednesday, June 26, is Summerfest Spirit Day from 4 to 6 p.m. All patrons arriving in that time frame wearing their favorite Summerfest gear will receive one free weekday admission ticket for future use when they check in at the #SFLive Lounge and a discount coupon to use at the Summerfest Store to purchase 2013 gear.
  • New for 2013, recycle to help keep the Big Gig clean and get a T-shirt. Patrons who visit the South Gate Information Booth during Summerfest and pledge to “Go Green at the Big Gig” can pick up a bag to fill with recyclable cups, bottles and aluminum pints. Return the full bag to the same spot and get a cool T-shirt for keeping the festival clean.
  • Thursday, June 27, is Direct Supply SeniorFest Day with Me-TV. All patrons age 60 and up arriving between noon and 4 p.m. will be admitted free when they check in at any gate. Those seniors will also receive an offer for $2 off a food and beverage (non-alcoholic) purchase over $10.
  • Friday, June 28, from noon to 2 p.m. is Klement’s $1 Brat Day with Major Goolsby’s and Alpha Baking. The first 2,500 people can purchase a $1 brat (one per person). Located by the Klement’s Sausage presents the Elizabeth “Bo” Black Family Fountain with B93.3. Proceeds will benefit Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and the Summerfest Foundation.
  • The Summerfest Parade will bring additional entertainment to the grounds during the festival on June 26–28, July 2 and July 5 at 3 p.m. Incorporating a second line style, the parade will start at the south end of Henry Maier Festival Park at the Marcus Amphitheater Forecourt and complete a full lap of the grounds.
  • Zipline along the waterfront. This new attraction provides participants with views of the water and Summerfest Grounds as they speed along from 40 feet above.

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