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Summerfest offers pavilion for those with disabilities

respite center
Posted at 9:37 AM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 19:25:42-04

MILWAUKEE — Summerfest is back for its second weekend, and Milwaukee World Festival Inc. has ensured there's a space for everyone.

There are plenty of stages and bathrooms all around the festival grounds, but there is also a pavilion offering an oasis for those with disabilities.

The goal of the Stephen J. Schwalbe Respite Pavilion is to offer those with disabilities a quiet space to relax, use the restroom, and even charge their wheelchair or scooter.

respite center summerfest
Lockers, showers or just providing a cool place to be are just a few benefits the center offers to make it a Summerfest for everyone.

It's comprised of two large bathrooms, a shower with a shower chair, changing areas, storage lockers, and a walled-off patio for service dogs.

According to Summerfest's website, the pavilion is continuously staffed by volunteers from the United Spinal Association, SE Wisconsin Chapter. It is only available during Summerfest and is located on the south end of the Miller Lite Oasis stage, about halfway between the South gate and Mid gate.

The pavilion is also open for Milwaukee's other festivals at the grounds.

The second weekend of Summerfest is officially underway on Thursday. At noon, dozens of music-lovers made their way onto the grounds to check out their favorite bands.

“For me, I come down early so the crowd doesn’t get real packed,” said Susan Mrdjenovich.

Cane in hand, Mrdjenovich makes sure to enjoy Summerfest as best she can.

“When I came in, I had both of my knees replaced. I can walk now, but I need the cane,” she said.

Summerfest offers pavilion for those with disabilities

As everyone enjoys shows, one can forget that not everyone is able to. That’s where volunteers at Stephen J. Schwalbe Respite Pavilion can step in.

Lockers, showers or just providing a cool place to be are just a few benefits the center offers to make it a Summerfest for everyone.

“If my battery dies, I got a place to go charge my scooter,” said Wallace Wheeler.

For those needing them, volunteers like Judy Newman are there as she’s been for years.

“It’s a very friendly place. It’s a nice place to be and a wonderful place to connect with the disabled community,” Newman said.

Lisa Koenigs and her younger brother Kurtis came out to Summerfest on Thursday. For the siblings, it’s a tradition.

“We’ve been coming to the Summerfest for many decades and the best thing is the Respite Center,” Lisa said.

Lisa is hopeful others who help people living with disabilities consider coming down to take it all in.

“It’s right by the Miller Oasis stage. Don’t let that stop you. Summerfest is amazing,” she said.

More information on accessibility at Summerfest can be found HERE.

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