After months of cold, dreariness, premature darkness, and an absence of outdoor activity, the fifth annual Burnhearts Mitten Fest is just days away. For eight hours on Saturday, February 4, portions of Potter and Logan avenues flanking the Bay View bar will be blocked off to host a single-day break from winter’s cold, cruel grasp. There will be live music. There’s going to be delicious craft beer rarities and a sea of brandy drinks. There will be food, philanthropy, and (hopefully) an overwhelming aura of positive vibes and togetherness expressed through our shared defiance of mother nature that’s shown partying outside during nature’s last full month.
Though the young event has quickly become Milwaukee’s favorite winter celebration, some of you might not know much about Mitten Fest. Others have surely attended, but might not be aware of what to expect this time around. Fear not, citizen. Milwaukee Record—an official Mitten Fest media sponsor—has assembled a guide of everything you need to know about Burnhearts Mitten Fest 2017.
Where can I escape the cold?
With the word “Mitten” being in the name and all, you should prepare for cold conditions. Dress appropriately. There will be a few propane heaters scattered around, but that’s about it. If you need to thaw out, Burnhearts will be open for business as usual. And even though Mitten Fest is Burnhearts’ baby, Burnhearts owner and Mitten Fest organizer William Seidel considers the event to be a Bay View celebration, and he urges people to visit other neighborhood establishments throughout the day.
“We encourage attendees to patronize other Bay View businesses,” Seidel told us last year. “It’s a good day for our community as a whole. We only ask that patrons understand that it is an unusually busy day for all of the bars and restaurants and to please be patient and nice to the employees of these businesses.”
Who’s playing again?
As always, Mitten Fest organizers brought in something for (almost) everyone. Whether you time your visit to catch your favorite act or you stay all day and let the eclectic musical mix serve as your celebratory soundtrack, you’re going to leave happy.
Lorde Fredd33 tops this year’s Mitten Fest lineup. The raspy rapper is the crown jewel of Milwaukee’s up-and-coming New Age Narcissism collective. Expect a high-energy set—perhaps one of the first in which Fredd33 doesn’t perform shirtless. Keep an eye on the forecast. He’s slated to start at 5 p.m.
Given their limited output and length between releases, Paper Holland is a relative unknown at the moment. It won’t stay that way, though. As Mitten Fest is at peak attendance at 3:30 p.m., the affable indie rock outfit is sure to win over throngs of new fans with their upbeat, fun, accessible, and all-around entertaining tunes, highlighted by tracks off last year’s Fast Food EP.
Field Report frontman, founding member, and bandleader Christopher Porterfield will play a solo set around 2 p.m. Between his incomparable voice, moving lyrics, and gorgeous music, Milwaukee is in for a smooth and occasionally emotional early afternoon performance from one of the city’s most renowned singer-songwriters. Unlike this cover of an 1877 song, expect a set of strictly original songs.
At half past noon, Chicago rockers Storm Clouds (whose members have strong Milwaukee ties) will take the stage. If drinking delicious high-ABV beer outside at 12:30 while listening to songs from a record called Cloak The Sky isn’t a quintessentially Milwaukee experience, nothing is.
What am I drinking?
As always, Burnhearts will serve rare and limited beers from their pals at Central Waters and Founders, barrel old fashioneds, Korbel and Tullamore Dew craft cocktails, and ginger brandy. If craft brews and brown liquor aren’t your bag, you’ll also find a full bar inside. But honestly, this is like beer nerd Christmas. Just look at what’s on tap.
Founders Brewing Co. (outside)
All Day IPA
Lizzard of Koz
Rubeaus — nitro
Central Waters Brewing Company (outside)
Black Gold (Editor’s note: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Central Waters (inside)
Mudpuppy Porter — nitro
But carry-ins are allowed, right?
Fuck no. If you bring in your own booze, not only would you be risking a fine, you’d also be threatening the continuation of Mitten Fest itself. As dramatic as it sounds, it could take as little as a few empty Busch Light cans on someone’s lawn or a smashed bottle of Boone’s Farm in a nearby alley to send Bay View Town Hall into a shit-fit—as if the eight-hour shortage of parking isn’t already catastrophic enough for some folks—and risk casting this overwhelmingly positive event in a negative light. C’mon! There’s a bunch of great (and rare) craft beer on hand, brandy cocktails, and 10 bars within walking distance. Don’t be a dick.
Will there be anything to eat?
Absolutely. Mitten Fest mainstays Goodkind, Honeypie/Palomino, Iron Grate BBQ Co., Gypsy Taco, and Valentine Coffee Roasters will be on hand to offer food and non-alcoholic beverages. Otherwise, if you wish to break away for a bite, Vanguard is a short walk away, as are Hi-Fi, Hué, and Honeypie. Oh, and you can always eat a 3.5-pound pretzel sandwich at Bumstead Provisions.
How does this benefit charity again?
Beyond being a means of celebration and cause for local businesses to have a major single-day boom during a typically slow season, there’s also a beneficial bent to Mitten Fest. Last year, Hunger Task Force received 5,000 pounds of non-perishable food and 90 bags of clothing were collected. Plus, close to $2,000 in donations were raised. Compost Crusader will also be on site to help limit waste.
Now that you know everything you need to about Mitten Fest, you should be ready to bundle up, get off the internet, and go outside this weekend, Milwaukee! We’ll see you there.