Summerfest's 50th anniversary festival sees attendance increase to 831,769

Posted at 1:56 PM, Jul 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-15 15:02:54-04
MILWAUKEE -- More than 830,000 people attended Summerfest’s 50th anniversary festival, Milwaukee World Festival Inc. said.
Total attendance of 831,769 is up 3.4 percent over 2016. It is also up significantly over 2015 (772,652), when there was a transit strike, but below attendance numbers reached in 2014 (851,879), and 2013 (840,356).
“As our 50th edition comes to a close, we want to thank all of our fans, sponsors, volunteers, vendors and staff who celebrated with us,” said Don Smiley, Milwaukee World Festival Inc. president and CEO. “Looking ahead, we will continue to make significant improvements ensuring a world-class fan experience for all visiting Summerfest, the ethnic festivals, and all events at Henry Maier Festival Park.”
Before this year’s festival, Smiley discussed many of those upcoming improvements in an extended interview with TODAY'S TMJ4  partner, the Milwaukee Business Journal.
Smiley also recently saidthat in years past, there was “inordinate attention” on reaching the 1 million mark in attendance each year.
Instead, under his direction, the Milwaukee festival has found a sweet spot in the 800,000 to 900,000 range, only dipping below that range once in the last 10 years (in 2015).
Attendance by year dating back to 2007 is as follows:
  • 2017: 831,769
  • 2016: 804,116
  • 2015: 772,652
  • 2014: 851,879
  • 2013: 840,356
  • 2012: 805,437
  • 2011: 878,636
  • 2010: 856,254
  • 2009: 835,679
  • 2008: 831,024
  • 2007: 892,005
During this year’s festival, Summerfest said, “Nearly 2,099 seasonal workers were hired, 350 volunteers provided over 3,400 hours of support for festival services, and 115,935 patrons – or 13.9 percent of all attendees – took advantage of free daily admission promotion offers.”
New sponsors for the 2017 festival include: American Family Insurance — first presenting sponsor of festival and naming of American Family Insurance Amphitheater; Aurora Health Care – Exclusive Health Care Provider; Pick ’n Save – 50th Exhibit and Throwback Thursday; Converged Technology Professionals – Wheel in the Sky; Robert Haack Diamonds – Summerfest Bobblehead Day; Southwest Airlines; Noodles & Company; and Red Bull.
The festival reported other milestones as well.
  • For the first time in fest history, Summerfest announced its ground stage lineup on ABC’s "Jimmy Kimmel Live." In addition, streamed musical performances and festival highlights to viewers worldwide throughout the 11-day run of Summerfest.
  • 50 Days of Summerfest – Summerfest made the most of the 50 days leading up to the festival with various activities throughout the community, including Picnics in the Park hosted by American Family Insurance, Newaukee Night Market, Milwaukee Art Museum After Dark, and more.
  • Fan For Life – wrapping up the 2017 festival on July 9, Summerfest awarded lifetime Summerfest tickets, as well as hundreds of other prizes, to thank the community and fans for their loyalty and support. In addition, 30,000 general admission tickets to Summerfest 2018 were distributed.
  • Summerfest 50 – a retrospective exhibit, sponsored by Pick ’n Save, showcased five decades of the festival and was developed in partnership with Milwaukee County Historical Society. A traveling Summerfest historical exhibit was also on display at various Pick ’n Save locations and libraries, and a large exhibit was installed on the grounds during Summerfest.
  • Summerfest 50 Commemorative Book – “50 Years of Smiles” — featuring photos of renowned artists that appeared over the past 50 years and the evolution of the festival.