By now you’ve probably heard the news, but if you haven’t, here it is: Summerfest—a.k.a. The World’s Largest Music Festival, a.k.a. The Big Gig, a.k.a. Sure, I Guess I’ll See Guided By Voices At 4 P.M.—posted its lowest attendance numbers since 1986. Summerfest welcomed 718,144 patrons in 2019—a 6% drop from 2018. (2018 saw a nearly 8% drop from the previous year.)

Which brings us to the annual game of Sharing Our Theories About What Went Wrong. In its Friday-at-5:30 p.m. press release, Summerfest had this to say:

Summerfest hosted 718,144 patrons and over 2,000 artists despite the fact that there were only 10 Amphitheater concerts, and four days out of the 11-day music festival experienced severe thunderstorm warnings late in the afternoon, when fans are making the decision to attend. Had there been the typical 11 Amphitheater openings, festival attendance would be projected at 733,144. Regardless of the attendance figures, the festival was profitable and remains well-positioned for the future.

The July 4 show at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater was canceled after both Ozzy Osbourne and Megadeth canceled their tours for health reasons.

So, let’s all share OUR theories. Here are some popular ones to help you get started, followed by the full Summerfest press release. (Read our Summerfest 2019 coverage HERE.)

• Rain
• The threat of rain
• No July 4 headliner
• Too hot
• Too cold
• Tickets were more expensive this year
• Beer was more expensive this year
• Food was more expensive this year
• The economy?
• Too many music festivals in Milwaukee
• Too many music festivals in the country
• Lineup wasn’t good
• Too many old bands that appealed only to old people
• Too many young bands that appealed only to young people (also known as the “I’ve Never Heard Of Any Of These Guys” theory)
• Not enough metal
• Not enough rock
• Not enough hip-hop
• All the good stuff was in the Amphitheater
• All the good stuff was on the grounds stages
• Everyone thought it was gonna be packed so everyone stayed home (also known as the “Imagine Dragons” theory)
• Bon Iver

Summerfest 2019 Makes Me Smile!
Festival hosts diverse and innovative line-up, grows Summerfest Tech, and provides world-class experience

MILWAUKEE (July 12, 2018) – Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. announced that Summerfest presented by American Family Insurance again hosted one of the most diverse line-ups available anywhere, providing world-class music in a world-class setting, affordable summer fun, and well over one hundred million dollars in economic impact for Milwaukee’s regional economy.

Summerfest hosted 718,144 patrons and over 2,000 artists despite the fact that there were only 10 Amphitheater concerts, and four days out of the 11-day music festival experienced severe thunderstorm warnings late in the afternoon, when fans are making the decision to attend. Had there been the typical 11 Amphitheater openings, festival attendance would be projected at 733,144. Regardless of the attendance figures, the festival was profitable and remains well-positioned for the future.

The non-profit organization hired over 2,225 seasonal workers to support the festival, 61% of which are Milwaukee residents. In addition, 305 volunteers provided over 5,000 hours of support for festival services.

Summerfest Tech also made significant strides, growing from three hours to two days, from 60 participants to over 500 attendees, and from one panel discussion to ten speakers, featuring Dennis Hoffman of Dell Technologies, and Grammy-nominated DJ Steve Aoki, as well as a pitch competition with CNBC The Profit star Marcus Lemonis, and a prize of $15,000+ in non-equity funding.

“Summerfest 2019 demonstrates Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.’s continued commitment to a world class experience for our fans. This year, we were excited to host performers like Jennifer Lopez in the completed Phase One of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater $53MM redevelopment. This show’s production would not have been possible in the past,” said Don Smiley, President & CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. “We are equally as excited to break ground on Phase Two, which will bring expanded concourses, additional food and beverage options, and more restrooms to our patrons. I look forward to the Grand Opening in 2020.”

Additional highlights from Summerfest 2019 include:

• In addition to the debut of Phase One of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater redevelopment, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. also unveiled the new Uline Warehouse Stage with Miller Lite and CW18 & My24, with performance by WALK THE MOON, Young the Giant, Chris Lane, and more.

• Several artists took the Summerfest stage for the first time including: Jennifer Lopez, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, Bon Iver, Billie Eilish, The Lonely Island, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, CHVCHES, YUNGBLUD, Daya, Vic Mensa and more.

• In 2019, 101,827 fest-goers took advantage of daily admission promotion offers. Beyond admissions, promotions provided 56,500 lbs. in food donations for Hunger Task Force during Johnson Controls Stomp Out Hunger Day with FOX6 Milwaukee and Kohl’s Family Day, as well as 4,181 new or gently used books for the Next Door Foundation, compliments of Northwestern Mutual’ s Make A Child Smile Day.

• The festival continued to add new activities in and on the water, including daily access to FREE L.L.Bean stand-up paddleboards and kayaks, as well as FREE boat rides with Mercury Marine and Sea Ray. In addition, a 60’ foot inflatable unicorn appeared on Friday, July 7, as part of Pepsi’s #summergram promotion.

New sponsors were added to the 2019 Summerfest line-up, and several sponsors substantially grew their presence, including:

Association of Equipment Manufacturers
Blizzard
Carthage College
Concordia University
Cousin’s Subs
Gateway Technical College
Homewood Suites
Kimpton Journeyman Hotel
Punch Bowl Social
Sea Ray
Wheel & Sprocket
White Lodging
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Zurn, A Rexnord Company

Dates for Summerfest 2020 will be announced in the near future.

About The Author

Matt Wild
Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.

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