Milwaukee, you may have heard, is the self-proclaimed “City of Festivals.” Much like Michael Jackson crowning himself the “King of Pop,” the title is well-earned: no city manages to cram so much action into four short months quite like Milwaukee. But with that title comes plenty of fests that have fallen by the wayside. Back in 2016, we rounded up 19 bygone Milwaukee festivals. Here are five more.
South Shore Frolics
For 68 years, Bay View’s beloved South Shore Frolics treated residents to parades, live music, classic car shows, and fireworks over the course of one weekend in July. But in late 2017, the Bay View Lions Club (which hosted the South Shore Park festival since 1995) announced the old-fashioned party would be coming to an end. Money—or the lack thereof—was the main culprit, along with sporadic funding for the parade (it had been canceled in 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016), the controversy surrounding the “Blow Up the Beach” fireworks display, and some neighbors’ claims that the fest didn’t represent the new and less blue collar-y Bay View. R.I.P.
Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole Run
Remember when everyone was all about being able to walk across the Hoan Bridge? (It’s all about lighting the Hoan Bridge these days.) Well, from 2011 to 2017, Milwaukeeans could run across the damn thing. Summerfest’s Rock ‘n Sole Run—not technically a “festival,” but close enough—featured a half marathon, quarter marathon, a 5k, and, most impressively, a closed Hoan. Unfortunately, the race also had its share of misfortune: Water was in short supply during the inaugural year, and a runner died after finishing the half marathon in 2015. “We felt it was time for new creative ideas and look forward to reviewing a variety of community initiatives, including music education outreach events,” said Milwaukee World Festival’s Don Smiley in late 2017. “I would like to personally thank all the runners and partners who supported the run over the years.”
Is it possible that Milwaukee didn’t have a festival celebrating the state’s favorite delicacy, the cheese curd, until 2017? And is it possible that the 2017 Curd Fest—hosted by the folks at Drink Wisconsinbly Pub—will not see a follow-up in 2018? It appears so. The festival of all things squeaky and deep fried, which featured a “5Curdk” run/walk through the streets of Walker’s Point, plenty of beer, live polka music, and a cheese curd eating competition, is noticeably absent from the 2018 summer festival lineup.
With the intention of celebrating punk and hardcore bands based in the Central time zone, Direct Hit! singer-guitarist Nick Woods spearheaded the inaugural Dummerfest in 2015. Even accounting for a guy lighting his shirt on fire while he was still wearing it, the first Dummerfest—staged at The Metal Grill in Cudahy—was a huge success. Woods put the festival on hold in 2016, but resurrected it in 2017. Now, with the closing of The Metal Grill in June 2017, it seems Dummerfest is on the back burner again.
For five years, Filth Fest brought about a convergence of punk mentalities, grass roots music and art, and a self-described “political subversion” to “create an inclusive, intentionally Queer and Trans centered space while raising money for Queer and Trans organizations.” Sadly, a sixth installment isn’t on the books for 2018 (here’s hoping for a surprise return?), though there might be some old shirts still kicking around.