Summerfest attendance drops, external factors blamed

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:33 am

Summerfest attendance took a tumble this year as 772, 652 patrons took part in the festival, down from last year’s attendance of more than 850,000.

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., the lead Summerfest organizer, released preliminary data of the 2015 event on Tuesday and acknowledged that external factors hurt attendance levels.

“In this business, there are certain elements within your control and various elements that are out of your control,” Don Smiley, president and chief executive officer of Milwaukee World Festival, said in a statement. “This year we dealt with some extraordinary factors that significantly affected people’s participation with the event.”

Among the hindering factors Milwaukee World Festival cited were significant road construction, colder temperatures during the first half of the fest, and a shutdown of Milwaukee County Transit System service toward the end of the music festival.

“The event business is very unpredictable, however, our local, national and international attendees, along with a worldwide streaming audience, got a ‘bird’s eye view’ of Milwaukee and its musical gem,” Smiley said. “We now move on to 2016.”

Among the bright spots of this year’s Summerfest was the Rolling Stones concert, which drew about 23,000 fans for a June 23 kickoff to the festival in the Marcus Amphitheater. That performance was the first of more than 800 acts that included big music names such as Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban, Stevie Wonder, Zac Brown Band, Linkin Park, Kendrick Lamar, Ed Sheeran, and The Avett Brothers.

Beyond Summerfest grounds, music fans across the globe could stream concert shows through internet and mobile devices. This was the first year Summerfest incorporated streaming into the festival.

And beyond Summerfest performances, patrons could experience a variety of amusements. Nearly 3,400 patrons took advantage of paddle boat rentals, more than 93,000 individuals rode over the festival on the Funjet’s Summer-Of-Fun Skyglider, and close to 21,500 attendees enjoyed Summerfest’s “Wheel in the Sky” Ferris wheel, according to Milwaukee World Festival data.

Next year’s Summerfest festivities are scheduled to run June 29 through July 3 and July 5 through July 10.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display