Summerfest attendance up 3.4 percent in 2017

50th anniversary brings in more than 830,000 visitors

The Summerfest Store is a new addition to the grounds and sells festival merchandise and 50th anniversary memorabilia.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:12 pm

Attendance at Summerfest totaled 831,769 this year, representing a 3.4 percent increase over 2016, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. announced today.

It marks two years of consecutive attendance growth for Summerfest, despite heavy rain on opening day of this year’s festival.

The Summerfest Store is a new addition to the grounds and sells festival merchandise and 50th anniversary memorabilia.

In 2016, 804,116 visitors attended the Big Gig, which was an increase from 772,000 in 2015, when road construction, colder-than-average temperatures and a shutdown of the Milwaukee County Transit system put a damper on attendance.

In celebration of its 50th anniversary this year, the festival offered several special promotions, including a retrospective exhibit showcasing the festival’s five-decade history, a commemorative 50th anniversary book, “50 Days of Summerfest” activities leading up to opening day, and the awarding of lifetime Summerfest tickets to fans.

Henry Maier Festival Park underwent several renovations in time for the 2017 festival, including upgrades to the Miller Lite Oasis stage area with the addition of a viewing deck, a hospitality deck expansion, a new Summerfest Store and a new Miller Brew House space.

The festival also offered 50 new food and beverage options in honor of its anniversary.

“As our 50th edition comes to a close, we want to thank all of our fans, sponsors, volunteers, vendors and staff who celebrated with us” said Don Smiley, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. president and CEO. “Looking ahead, we will continue to make significant improvements ensuring a world-class fan experience for all visiting Summerfest, the ethnic festivals, and all events at Henry Maier Festival Park.”

This year, 13.9 percent of all attendees — 115,935 patrons in total — took advantage of free daily admission promotion offers.

Artists who performed at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater included Red Hot Chili Peppers, Luke Bryan, Paul Simon, Zac Brown Band, P!NK, The Chainsmokers, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Dierks Bentley, Future, Big Sean, Migos, Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.

In the days leading up to Summerfest, BizTimes got a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making the festival ready for visitors.

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