Wisconsin, the nation and the world are going into stay-at-home protective measures due to the planetary pandemic of Coronavirus, and delaying many of the beloved traditions of the spring and summer calendar.
Summerfest, the Milwaukee-hosted world’s largest music festival, has chosen a similar route, moving the festival to three consecutive Thursday through Saturday windows in the very end of summer: September 3-5, 10-12 and 18-20.
“This is going to be a different Summerfest,” said Don Smiley, Summerfest’s CEO and President, on the Jeff Wagner Show.
“We’ve had overwhelming support of what we’re doing in the face of this public health emergency.”
The move to a September festival, and to three weekends instead of one continuous 11-day festival (with a one-day break) which is the normal June/July format, is an attempt to create a window of time for band availability and fan interest.
“The September dates give us precious time to work with tours, the bands, on the grounds, sponsors and fans to put on the best show possible for those three weekends in September,” said Smiley.
“We started discussing different contingency plans a couple of weeks ago. As you can imagine, there is a potpourri of issues that go into a decision of this magnitude.”
Those issues involve finding bands which will be available, and trying to stay as close as possible to making sure as much of the normal level of quality bands could perform.
“We thought we would have the best chance at replicating the lineup on the grounds if we did it over three weekends in September,” added Smiley.
“The September dates give us precious time to work with tours, the bands, on the grounds, sponsors and fans to put on the best show possible for those three weekends.”.
Smiley also said that the festival could possibly extend beyond those dates in a smaller fashion with the newly-renovated amphitheater.
“What we may do, and this is still under consideration, we may do something in the (American Family Insurance) Amphitheater prior to opening, and then maybe a show after these dates are over.”
He said that lineup announcements for the re-shuffled festival can be expected “soon” – the kind of announcement that could help fans have something to look forward to during this most unusual time.
“People ought to remember what state of affairs we’re in right now, and how much more important that is versus any of that. I don’t care if it’s Summerfest, a golf tournament, whatever. There are more important things than that right now,” said Smiley.
“When people get back to work, they’ll have a little disposable income, they’ll want to blow off some steam, come down, have a beer, listen to a band and try to heal a little bit. I think peoples’ psyche will need some time to get over (coronavirus).”