Summerfest

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Summerfest (also known as "The Big Gig") is a yearly music festival held at the 75-acre (300,000 m2) Henry Maier Festival Park along the lakefront in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The festival lasts for 11 days, is made up of 11 stages with performances from over 700 bands, and since the mid-1970s has run from late June through early July, always including the 4th of July holiday.[1] Summerfest attracts between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people each year, promoting itself as "The World's Largest Music Festival," a title certified by the Guinness World Records in 1999.[2][3]

Summerfest is run by the non-profit organization Milwaukee World Festival, and features both local and nationally known music talent from a variety of music genres. The event also provides the opportunity to sample a wide variety of food from many Milwaukee-area restaurants. Other Summerfest attractions include comedy acts, shopping vendors, fireworks (including "The Big Bang" on opening night), other special attractions, family activities and more.

Live musical acts are offered on 11 stages throughout the grounds from noon to midnight, including the 23,000-capacity Marcus Amphitheater. All shows are free with an admission ticket, with the exception of headlining acts at the Marcus Amphitheater. Admission is between $8.00 and $15.00, depending on the time of day. There are numerous promotions for discounted or free tickets.[4]

Contents

History

Summerfest was conceived in the 1960s by then-mayor Henry W. Maier. Inspired by his visit to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, Maier envisioned a similar ethnic-themed festival in Milwaukee, and in 1962 formed a panel of business and civic leaders to study the feasibility of a large-scale summer festival. By the middle of the decade, the panel drew up a proposal for a 10-day multi-event festival with the proposed name of "Milwaukee World Festival," which was changed briefly in 1966 to "Juli Spaß" (German for "July Fun") and then to "Summerfest."

The inaugural Summerfest was held in July 1968 at 35 different locations throughout the city (including Milwaukee County Stadium and Milwaukee Arena), and its events ranged from concerts to a film festival, an air show, and even a pageant. The first Summerfest was regarded as a success; the second event in 1969, was less successful, as it was plagued by additional venues, inclement weather, and severe financial debt. In 1970, a permanent central location was decided upon, and Summerfest moved to a former Nike missile site on the lakefront, where it continues to be held to this day. Also that year, Summerfest introduced its red "smiley face" logo, an insignia that has become synonymous with the event. The logo was designed by local graphic artist Noel Spangler.

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