Attendance at Summerfest totaled 804,116 this year, representing a 4 percent increase over 2015, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. announced Thursday.
“Hosting the legendary Paul McCartney was just one aspect of our success in 2016," said Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc, in a statement. "Thanks to an incredibly diverse line-up of talented artists, the continued participation of our fans and the commitment of our partners, vendors and volunteers, Summerfest again delivered on its status as 'The World’s Largest Music Festival.'"
Though an improvement over last year's unusually low attendance mark of around 772,000 — which the festival's organizers blamed on external factors such as road construction, colder-than-average temperatures and a shutdown of the Milwaukee County Transit system — attendance was still significantly lower than 2014.
That year, the Big Gig attracted more than 851,000 patrons to the Henry Meier Festival Grounds.
In 2013, the Summerfest attendance was 840,356.
Next year will be the 50th Summerfest, and festival leaders are preparing special projects and announcements to commemorate the occasion.
In an interview with BizTimes in June, Smiley said plans were in the works to perform construction and improvement projects on the Summerfest grounds in advance of the 2017 festival. Smiley also discussed plans to replace the Marcus Amphitheater.
“There’s no specific timelines in place right now, but I would not rule out some construction projects that would help us celebrate the 50th anniversary of Summerfest,” Smiley said at the time. “That’s about what I can say at this point. We are working on some things, but they’re confidential at this point and I can’t get into it.”
A BizTimes cover story published on July 27 took an in-depth look at how Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. leaders organize Summerfest each year, as well as how much certain Marcus Amphitheater headliners have been paid in recent years.