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Finding the ‘hidden' performers of Summerfest

Posted: 10:53 PM, Jul 05, 2017
Updated: 2017-07-05 23:53:57-04

The musical acts are the big draw at Summerfest, but let’s not forget about some of the more “hidden” performers.

Michael Durst buys a Summerfest Power Pass and comes every day dressed as a Viking.

“I’m in my 60’s,” he said. “I’m retired, and I’m having the time of my life.”

It’s a unique hobby, to say the least. Durst doesn’t get paid as entertainment at Summerfest. But gets a reward, that he says, is better than money.

“I love the smile I bring to people’s faces as they walk by,” he said. “It makes me feel so good.”

Alice Wilson, on the other hand, does get a stipend from Summerfest as a roving performer. She also collects tips.

Wilson lives in Milwaukee and works as a human statue, often posing in art classes at local colleges and universities. She can stand perfectly still for at least an hour.

“I love people watching,” she said. “Being a human statue is perfect for that. I like seeing the reaction of the crowd. The best is when someone says they saw me move earlier, and then they come in close for a picture and I move suddenly, and they scream. I scare a lot of kids and adults because they don’t realize I’m an actual person.”

But Durst and Wilson are not the only characters in the Summerfest crowd.

We met Dawn Frederich, a die-hard Tom Petty fan, who’s never missed one of his Milwaukee shows.

“Back in 1993, he waved at me,” she said. “I didn’t have a cell phone to document it, but it happened. We made eye contact. I have a Tom Petty tattoo on my ankle. I’ve been his biggest fan for 40 years.”

Forget 1993. Another milestone for Dawn happened on this very night 34 years ago. She went on her first date with her husband, Todd. Of course, that date was at Summerfest.

“He’s taken me through a lot of hard times, and given me a lot of joy,” Dawn said. Oh, wait—that’s her talking about Tom Petty again!

“I wouldn’t have married my husband if he didn’t love Tom Petty,” she said laughing. “But really, I fell in love with Todd the moment I saw him.”

“I fell in love with her after she cooked me dinner,” Todd said jokingly. “I found out she could cook, and that was it. I don’t get jealous of Tom Petty.”

Because Tom may be her first love, But Todd is her soulmate.

“He knows in my world, he’s my Tom Petty,” she said.

Tom Petty headlines Summerfest again Thursday night.

SUMMERFEST CHEAT SHEET