After months of cold, dreariness, premature darkness, and an absence of outdoor activity, the eighth annual Burnhearts Mitten Fest is just days away. For eight hours (noon to 8 p.m.) on Saturday, February 1, 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 by 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 2020.
Where can I escape the cold?
With the word “Mitten” being in the name and all, you should prepare for cold conditions. Dress appropriately. Currently, the forecast calls for a high of 37 degrees on Saturday. 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, the bar’s 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 before a previous installment. “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.
Originally based on a sketch from The Kids In The Hall, The Eradicator has taken on a life of its own. While still paying homage to the ski-mask-donning, racquet-clutching character for whom the project is based, the Chicago punk band is making a name for itself with incomparable live shows and a level of execution that’s far better than you’d expect out of a well-orchestrated joke. Back in October, The Eradicator formally unveiled his second batch of squash-related compositions, Peak Eradicator. It’s great. The Eradicator’s set will start at 6 p.m.
The inimitable Zed Kenzo will return to their neighborhood roughly six months after playing our stage at Bay View Bash. While the conditions outside will be drastically different this time around, you can expect the same sort of unforgettable performance from the unstoppable Milwaukee rapper. Zed performs at 4:45 p.m.
Dance Music Saves Lives isn’t just the title of Lauryl Sulfate & Her Ladies Of Leisure’s ridiculously great debut album—it’s a mission statement. Over the course of eight glittery, disco-indebted tracks, Sulfate and her LOL preach the life-affirming gospel of shaking your ass and having a good time. Dance Music is a glorious, giddy, sometimes silly, sometimes serious record that recognizes the all-inclusive power of losing yourself on the dance floor. Don’t miss Lauryl and Her Ladies when they take the stage at 3:30 p.m.
After Saebra & Carlyle officially started out in late 2017, the duo consisting of longtime friends and project namesakes—singer Saebra Laken and guitarist Carlyle Nowak—became a full-fledged band with the addition of a new rhythm section. Last year alone, the twosome-turned-quartet released a split 7-inch with Abby Jeanne, a split 12-inch EP with King Eye, a debut full-length, and an award-winning music video. Along the way, the busy band played a ton of shows (including a steady diet of local festivals). Their productivity will continue with a Mitten Fest performance that will make you want to show up early. Saebra & Carlyle plays at 2:15 p.m.
Following a relatively quiet 2019 (other than releasing its aforementioned Spliff EP spit with Saebra & Caryle), King Eye & The Squirts are ready to get back it. Show up at 1 p.m. to take in a rare show by the surf-punk outfit. You won’t regret it.
As always, local treasure Chris Schulist will DJ between acts.
What am I drinking?
As if the stacked cast of musicians isn’t enticing enough, Burnhearts will serve rare and limited beers from Central Waters Brewery and Bell’s Brewery. If beer isn’t your thing, Mitten Fest will also have an array of other alcoholic options, including its famous Korbel Brandyland Old Fashioned (a brandy old fashioned mix that’s house-aged in bourbon barrels with Bittercube Bitters), Korbel Ginger Brandy Toddy, Tito’s Handmade Vodka Milk Punch, Valentine and Tullamore Dew Irish coffee (which is vegan). Burnhearts will also have beers on tap inside the bar, as well as its full selection of beer, liquor, and spirits for your enjoyment.
Light Hearted Ale
Lager Of The Lakes
Black Note Vanilla
BBA 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout
Chocolate Cherry Vanilla Stout
L’Appel Du Vide Blackberry
Central Waters Brewery
Maple Barrel Stout
Maple Barrel – Butter Pecan
Brandyland Old Fashioned
Irish Dream Stout
Mango Milkshake IPA
Bourbon Cherry Stout
But carry-ins are allowed, right?
Absolutely not. 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 White Claw cans on someone’s lawn to risk casting this overwhelmingly positive event in a negative light. C’mon, people! 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?
Yep! Foxfire, Twisted Plants, Iron Grate, Drift, Hué, and Cafe Corazon will sell 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, Honeypie, Crafty Cow and Hot Head Fried Chicken, Hungry Sumo Sushi Bar, and a number of other excellent restaurants.
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. Previous installments have brought in considerable donations of clothing, food, and cash to Hunger Task Force. Seidel tells us last year’s Mitten Fest raised a record-setting total of $2,975.10 in cash donations. That impressive figure was approximately $800 or $900 more than 2018’s sum. Last year’s event also brought in over 5,000 pounds of food donations as well (more than double 2018’s total). Clothing collected filled more than five 4 foot by 4 foot by 3 foot boxes, which is the equivalent of 105 bags of clothing. In addition to Hunger Task Force’s involvement, Compost Crusader will also be on site to help limit waste.
Is there anything else I should know?
Now that you mention it, yes. Cortney Heimerl (of Hover Craft fame) has enlisted a varied grouping of local vendors for an art, craft, and maker fair. Those vendors include the likes of Cream City Caramels, Stephanie Kosmatka, Cozy Mittens, B-Kitty, Girls Rock, KinniciKnit, Belle and Nuka, Too Much Metal For One Hand, Frank and Bella, Milrawkee Alt., and Pabst Theater Group.
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!