Summerfest kicks off today with new stages, upgrades

The Klement’s Sausage and Beer Garden has a backyard barbecue feel.

Summerfest kicks off its 51st season today at Henry Maier Festival Park, where visitors will be greeted by several new additions to the festival grounds.

Festival officials on Tuesday showed off the most recently completed addition to the festival grounds, the new Klement’s Sausage and Beer Garden area. Located on a former lawn area on the park’s north end, the new area features a stage for local artists, lounge area, picnic tables and a location to purchase Klement’s products.

Also new this year, the new North Gate and community plaza is expected to double capacity for visitors entering the park. The renovation included a new turnstile area, box office, benches and seating areas and interactive play areas, including a “percussion jam garden,” “chime garden” and interaction electronic sound and light sculptures.

The new U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, which replaced the former U.S. Cellular stage that was demolished after last year’s festival, includes a larger performance area, an open-air backstage loft VIP hospitality area and the largest LED screen on the festival grounds. The stage is expected to seat about 9,000 fans, a higher capacity than the previous stage, and offers visitors a view of Milwaukee’s lakefront.

The festival will also feature 70 new food and beverage items, including BelAir Cantina’s Carne Asada and Ninja Pig Tacos, Vagabond’s Trailer Fries, Ward’s House of Prime’s Tater Tot Poutine and Solo’s Bacon Wrapper Cannoli.

The festival runs today through July 1 and from July 3 to 8.

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