MILWAUKEE — About 8.8% more people attended Summerfest this year compared to 2021 when attendance dropped by almost 50%. However, attendance has still not returned to pre-pandemic levels.
The organizers of the music festival, Milwaukee World Festival (MWF), released this year's attendance on Thursday, which totaled 445,611 visitors. This year Summerfest returned to the summer months, rather than in September like it was last year. While this number is up from 2021's 409,386, it's still almost 50% less than what it was prior to the pandemic.
The last pre-pandemic festival happened in 2019 and it had 718,144 visitors. However, it also lasted two days longer and the days were consecutive, rather than spread across several weekends.
“This year’s results highlight the current state of the event industry as we continue to manage through the impact of the last few years," MWF said in a statement. "Given the lasting effect of the pandemic, the world has changed and, accordingly, the music festival business has changed as well. In 2020, MWF stated it would take years to fully recover and that is what we – and others – have experienced in 2022."
Milwaukee World Festival also cited several changes for the low attendance, saying there was a reduction of transportation options, increasing inflation, a crowded concert calendar, and an unprecedented loss of eight nationally known artists, including Justin Bieber.
The multi-weekend schedule got mixed reactions from fans and vendors during its first year, and again this year. Some people enjoy it, saying it's easier to attend the festival on the weekends, while others say the downside is if you want to go for a few days and you're from out of town.
"It’s only the weekends, but if you're from out of town then it's like not like you can stay the whole week and go every day," said one person TMJ4 talked to on Monday.
A statement from Milwaukee World Festival said officials will review the results of the weekend model, and confirm dates for Summerfest 2023.