MILWAUKEE — It's no secret that Summerfest was very different this year. It took place in September, temperatures were pretty mild, and there weren't as many fans as we are used to seeing.
How did that affect the overall fan experience, though? I asked some fans at Summerfest on the final day of the festival to review their experience. I'll share some of my opinions too.
Summerfest didn't release an official attendance number for this year yet, but it was clear that there were fewer people at the festival. The first weekend, Labor Day Weekend, had the fewest fans. It was borderline empty. Things picked up during the subsequent weekends. Whether fans didn't come because of the COVID protocols or the fall timing, is unclear. There was chatter about both those reasons online. However, what is certain is that the vibe of larger crowds was missed.
“Summerfest is about it being so packed and everybody just being here. It seems like the whole world is here when Summerfest is going on," Ana Bermudez said.
“I’d rather have it where it's rowdy and packed. I’d rather have it in July," Jermal Cury said.
But others welcomed the smaller crowds.
"[I'm] usually real good with crowds, but this makes it a lot easier to get around and navigate and see some things, so I like it," Gregory Brown.
While Gregory Brown liked the smaller crowds, he still wished the festival was in July.
"I actually kind of like it. I don’t like the big crowd really," Andre Gooder said.
As someone who was at Summerfest for seven out of nine days, navigating through fewer crowds was a blessing. It also meant less people being goofy while I'm trying to report. FYI, that won't make it on T.V. ever.
I did go once as a fan to see the Dirty Heads, and it was nicer to not be packed in with thousands of people. I'm a fan of the smaller crowd, but I understand this was a one-time thing.
For better or for worse, the next most noticeable thing missing from Summerfest this year was the sweltering heat.
Temperatures seemed to hover in the 70s to 80s for the three weekends. It was always comfortable. It rained the first weekend, but after that it was clear blue skies.
"Its been different and the weathers been great," Marilyn Kotarak said.
But still that cooler weather isn't enough for Marilyn to want Summerfest to change.
Speaking from the point of view of a reporter carrying two cameras, a tripod, laptop, and sometimes a guitar, the weather was perfect. I was drenched in sweat just walking from the parking lot to festival grounds back at the 2019 Summerfest. This weather life easy. But alas, I'll have to deal with the sweat next year.
It's wild to say this, but one night I was actually chilly. I brought a jacket the next day just in case I got cold again. I did see a few people in sweaters and sweatshirts throughout the festival.
All in all, it was a great Summerfest. It was different, but that's because the times are different. Everyone who I talked to and saw had a great time. The vibes were high. The music was rocking. The food was delicious. Summerfest is back and that is something everyone should be able to be happy about.
Summerfest will be in July next year. However, Summerfest will keep the three consecutive weekend format (Thursday to Saturday). This actually makes it easier for Summerfest to book bands. They don't have to schedule someone for a Wednesday afternoon and Sunday's have been slower days in general.