Summerfest grounds, Marcus Center and Fiserv Forum add to summer event lineup

Summerfest is the World’s Largest Music Festival.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:21 pm

The South Gate to the Summerfest grounds, officially known as Henry Maier Festival Park.

As summer approaches, Milwaukee is gearing up for this year’s festival season.

Summerfest operator Milwaukee World Festival Inc. recently announced two additions to its event calendar: the sixth annual Milwaukee Taco Fest and the new Big BBQ Fest.

Taco Fest will take place Saturday, June 22. Held in past years at Wisconsin State Fair Park, the festival includes taco tasting, cervezas, wrestling, and other entertainment. Tickets will go on sale on March 22 at the festival’s website.   

Big BBQ Fest, to be held during Labor Day weekend (August 30 to September 1), will feature barbecue, games and live entertainment. It replaces Big Gig BBQ, a similar event that took place in past years during that weekend. More details, including ticket information will be released in the coming months.

Both events are organized by Milwaukee-based Swarmm Events and will be held at the grounds’ Johnson Controls Pavilion area. 

“We are thrilled that Swarmm Events has decided to present Milwaukee Taco Fest and Big BBQ Fest at Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee’s top destination for events throughout the summer,” said Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival Inc. in a statement. “This new collaboration is consistent with our mission of bringing the community together at the lakefront.”

The Summerfest grounds this summer will also play host once again to Black Arts Fest MKE on Saturday, Aug. 3. The festival, which celebrates African American culture and heritage, first debuted last year. R&B trio SWV will headline the event with a performance set for 10:15 p.m. at the Miller Lite Oasis stage.

Joining Milwaukee’s festival offerings for the first time this year is Fresh Coast Jazz Festival, taking place during Labor Day weekend at the Marcus Center grounds on Water Street in downtown Milwaukee. The three-day event will feature performances from renown and rising jazz artists including Jazz Funk Soul, Lindsey Webster and Ronnie Laws, according to its website.

One-day passes for the festival range in price from $95 to $155 and can be purchased through the Marcus Center’s website.

The nationally-touring Bloody Mary Festival will also make a Milwaukee debut this summer, on Saturday and Sunday, June 22 and 23 at the public plaza outside Fiserv Forum, the Milwaukee Bucks announced Monday.

Photo by The Bloody Mary Festival

The festival includes Bloody Mary tastings and contests as well as other beverages, local food and crafts. Milwaukee is one of eight cities, including New York City, Atlanta, and New Orleans, slated to host the event in 2019. Tickets are available on the festival’s website.

“Milwaukee restaurants offer amazing Bloody Marys, and it’s about time that we celebrate them in an event of this magnitude,” said Michael Belot, senior vice president of Bucks Ventures and Development. “The plaza in front of Fiserv Forum is a prime destination for outdoor entertainment, and we are delighted that the festival organizers selected the plaza to be the site for the first-ever Bloody Mary Festival in Wisconsin.” 

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.