'Our lineup is stacked': Summerfest CEO on how the COVID-19 pandemic forced innovation

Posted at 7:11 AM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 08:11:57-04

MILWAUKEE — Don Smiley, the man who's run Summerfest since 2004, has never hosted a party like this. In an extensive interview with TMJ4's Vince Vitrano, Smiley defends the COVID-19 protocols in place, and how the pandemic has forced innovation.

Summerfest kicks off in September after COVID shutdowns

"It seems like a lifetime ago that we even had a festival, and it seems like two lifetimes ago that I showed up here in 2004 to participate in my first Summerfest. So, this has been a challenging time for us, but we put it in perspective," said Smiley.

Don Smiley says Summerfest had to be held in September

"We're not frontline healthcare workers. They're the heroes. We're running a music festival. That's very important to our community, that provides a huge amount of economic development. It provides fun. It provides quality of life features for our citizens and people from other cities and states, so we're really looking forward to 2021," he said.

Summerfest CEO: 'The lineup is stacked'

Smiley said working with the Milwaukee Health Department was a main priority.

The gates open at 12 p.m. Thursday.

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