MILWAUKEE – Bastille Days is returning to downtown Milwaukee for the first time in 2 years due to the pandemic.
The free celebration of French culture kicks off Thursday at 11 a.m. located at Cathedral Square Park on 520 E Wells St. The festival will run everyday until Sunday, July 17.
But the one question on everyone’s mind is: what about security?
East Town Association Interim Executive Director Eddie Sturkey told me they’ve “invested more in security this year” compared to the last 38 years of the event.
“The first conversations we had was related to safety, both in terms of COVID as well as general safety concerns,” Sturkey said. “…Milwaukee Police Department will be on sight throughout the festival and we also hired our own private security that is on sight 24/7.”
On the other hand, while there will be beefed up security, Sturkey says there’ll be less programming compared to years prior.
“We cut back on a little bit of our programming,” Sturkey said. “We usually have cooking demonstrations and a waiter-waitress race but we decided to not do that. Mostly because of the bandwidth and timing. So really I’m trying to pull together this festival in a relative very short period of time; 4, 4-and-a-half months.”
Starkey says trying to get Bastille Days back running has “definitely” been the “hardest thing” he’s ever done.
“It’s been very, very challenging, Sturkey said. “Not only because it’s new people for the most part, the extremely short planning window but also because this the most challenging environment I think ever to be able to do it…Supply shortages, labor shortages, increased cost around the board. We’re a nonprofit but been nonoperational for 2 years so any increase in cost is a huge barrier and challenge for us.”