Summerfest Attendance Was Up This Year, Which You Probably Guessed

Revenues were up, too

Jul. 11, 2013
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Photo courtesy Twitter user @Brookie44
As you might have guessed from the opening-weekend gate situation and the near-ideal weather the event enjoyed, attendance was up this year at Summerfest. The festival drew 840,356 patrons this year, it revealed this morning in a press release, an increase of 4.3% over last year's attendance. It's unclear whether that tally includes the crowds who entered the festival for free after storming the gate on June 29.

Summerfest's complete press release, which reports that revenues were also up handsomely, is pasted below for readers who really, really like numbers or are curious about how many patrons took zipline rides.

MILWAUKEE (July 11, 2013) – Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. officials announced preliminary data indicating, Summerfest, “The World’s Largest Music Festival,” grew revenue and attendance while introducing new partnerships and offerings at the festival.

Summerfest managed to draw and host 840,356 patrons, an increase of 4.3% over 2012’s 805,437 attendance.  Not only did attendees from the Southeastern Wisconsin participate, festival fans traveled to Milwaukee from 49 other states and 40 countries including Australia, Brazil, France, Spain, Mexico, Germany, Uganda and Poland to name a few.

Food and beverage sales at the event increased by 7% over last year’s totals in the same categories.  Additionally, business to business sales rose by 4.1% over last year’s totals, including new sponsorships with Johnson Controls, Uline, Scion, Badger Meter, Boston Store, Pick ‘n Save, Coffee Mate, Palermo’s Verlo, Direct Supply, Forward Dental, Gruber Law, K-Nation, Kemp’s, Tombstone and Jack’s Pizza. Overall, 80 sponsors and media partners were part of Summerfest 2013. 

“This year’s event was outstanding!  From the music, food and beverage offerings, new daytime enhancements and promotions, attendees were able to ‘Smile On’ in a big way,” said Don Smiley, President and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.  Ted Kellner, Chairman of the Board added, “I am appreciative of the staff who worked hard to produce this world-class event and thankful to everyone who supported and attended Summerfest this year.”

An event as successful as Summerfest, only happens because of those that work to plan, promote and execute it each year.  Approximately 140,000 hours were worked by nearly 2,000 seasonal employees during the eleven days of the festival.  Additionally, 875 volunteer shifts, equating to 5,400 hours from 400 volunteers and drivers, contributed to help the festival run smoothly.

Summerfest delivered unforgettable live music experiences to patrons of every age.  Over 800 acts took the stage with over 1,000 performances.  Highlights include Violent Femmes and The Avett Brothers with special guests Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Ivan and Aloysa, Dropkick Murphys, Timeflies, Billy Idol, Cake, LL Cool J, Empire of the Sun, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Imagine Dragons, AWOLNATION, The Wailers, Pretty Lights, Alice Cooper, Skillet, Luke Bryan with special guests Thompson Square and Florida Georgia Line, Rick Springfield, Nelly and Foreigner.  Additionally, Summerfest celebrated the return of comedy with Lewis Black.  To bring the music to life, 58 tour buses were parked and 15,185 man hours of local labor were used to set-up and tear down all shows across the grounds

In 2013, new daytime enhancements allowed festival fans to enjoy more than just the music at Summerfest.  The successfully launched Paddleboat Water Experience presented by Badger Meter, Summerfest Skydive Shows, Zipline, Summerfest Parade and Big Smile Photo Opportunity presented by ForwardDental provided all patrons with the opportunity to get involved and be part of this year’s Big Gig®.  The new enhancements proved to be popular as patrons took 4,105 paddleboat rides and 4,181 zipline rides, while the Verlo Mattress Skyglider provided 92,566 one-way trips.

As in years past, Summerfest provided patrons with the opportunity to get in free or at a discounted rate each day of the festival.  In total, 78,445 patrons entered the event for FREE, taking advantage of an admission promotion offer, including Johnson Controls Stomp Out Hunger Day with Fox 6, Direct Supply Seniorfest Day, Klement’s Day, Goodwill Day, Kohl’s Family Day, Sentry Foods and Dean’s Milk & Ice Cream Children’s Fest Day with Today’s TMJ4, Mountain Dew Day, H.O.G. Day, Military Appreciation Day, Malt-O-Meal Day, Northwestern Mutual “Make a Child Smile Day and Fan Appreciation Day.  Additionally, 26,879 attendees entered for FREE on weekdays via the tickets that accompanied Fest Flags and 25,000 weekday tickets were distributed for FREE during the Opening Day Quarter Million Dollar Ticket Giveaway on site.

Festival fans sampled over 40 diverse food and beverage vendors which resulted in the consumption of 59,947 cheeseburgers, 22,300 brats, 13,605 eggplant strips, 41,584 mozzarella sticks, 41,978 ears of corn, 167,796 mini donuts and 33,728 ice cream cones.  On the grounds, 4,101,600 feet of towel was used along with 972 gallons of hand soap to help keep patrons hands clean after those great meals.

A large infrastructure improvement was also completed, which helped AT&T provide enhanced cell phone coverage across Henry Maier Festival Park.  To fulfill the project, 260 miles of single mode fiber strands were installed underground.  The new infrastructure is comprised of 65 antennas on 11 buildings, 18 of which are located inside the Marcus Amphitheater.

The #SFLive Lounge, also new this year, offered interactive fan experiences which showcased artist interviews and allowed patrons to participate in the 2013 campaign and other themed days to win prizes.  Overall, 63 bands performed a live, acoustic song in the #SFLive Lounge that was captured on video and photo and posted on Summerfest social media outlets including YouTube.  Summerfest photographers captured over 15,000 digital images during the 11-day run.

While data on news coverage is still being compiled, the initial results are extremely positive.  To date, Summerfest and the City of Milwaukee were included in over 1,600 news mentions from January – July 2013.  International media attention from 48 major outlets focused on “The World’s Largest Music Festival,” including Rolling Stone, USA Today, Billboard, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CMT, BBC, Pollstar, New York Post, Teen Vogue, London Sun and People Magazine.

Summerfest 2014 will take place June 25 - 29 and July 1 - 6, from Noon until Midnight and will be closed Monday, June 30.  Following its 1968 debut, Summerfest has evolved into what is now recognized as “The World’s Largest Music Festival” and Milwaukee’s cornerstone summer celebration, bringing the music industry’s hottest stars, emerging talent and local favorites along with approximately 900,000 people from Milwaukee and around the world together each year for an unforgettable live music experience.  During the festival, the spotlight shines on over 800 acts, over 1,000 performances, 11 stages, delectable food and beverages and interactive activities, all in a world-class festival setting.  Patrons can also enjoy Miller Lite, the Official Beer of Summerfest.  For more details, visit, or Twitter: @Summerfest.


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