Businesses excited for an economic bump from the return of Summerfest

Steve Sazama , the owner of Saz’s
Posted at 4:00 PM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 19:29:48-04

MILWAUKEE — The return of Summerfest means big money for some Milwaukee businesses that were hit by the pandemic. The Big Gig usually generates around $180 million in economic impact money for the community.

“We have been out here since 1983 and we missed it last year,” said Steve Sazama , the owner of Saz’s. “So happy to be back.”

It is a feeling a lot of people are sharing both inside and outside the Summerfest grounds. Our partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal say one of the biggest economic winners are the hotels.

“I have talked to some of the managers, who tell me the next three nights is either at 90 percent or higher,” said Mark Kass, editor of the Milwaukee Business Journal.

That’s because in a typical year, more than 700,000 people will walk through the Summerfest gates.

"You get people who come in and spend the night. Who spend the weekend down here, who may not come down here,” said Kass.

Organizers say people come in from out of town, out of state, or even from out of the country, ready to spend their money in Milwaukee.

“Recognize the economic, the direct and indirect economic benefit Summerfest contributes each and every year, which is approximately $186 million. So over 5 years, you're getting close to a billion dollars of economic impact,” said Don Smiley, president of the Summerfest organizer, Milwaukee World Festival.

saz's summerfest
People wait in line for food at Saz's on the Summerfest grounds.

The owner of Saz’s says Summerfest accounts for more than 20 percent of his festival business, and that doesn’t even include the boost he gets from catering.

​"So we are the official cater of the grounds, so we cater all 15 locations plus all the backstage and the bands,” said Sazama.

He says it helps keep his business going and people on the payroll.

​"Between Summerfest and State Fair, those really bring in a lot of money for us and we are able to keep employees working all year round,” said Sazama.

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip