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Summerfest's attendance was down by 43% this year

We suspected that Summerfest's attendance was going to be down by quite a bit this year, and now we know by exactly how much. The festival drew 409,386 people during its nine-day run this year, a 43% drop from 2019's attendance, which had previously been its lowest attendance in 30 years.

In a press release, Summerfest cited a whole lot of obvious reasons for the decline, chief among them the Delta variant. "While the results were not what the organization anticipated, it was significant to be able to operate Summerfest in September, during the pandemic," the organization wrote.

Here's Summerfest's complete press release:

MILWAUKEE, WI (September 22, 2021) – Live music was back at Summerfest presented by American Family as the festival returned to Milwaukee’s lakefront September 2-4, 9-11, and 16-18, 2021.  As one of only a few national music festivals to take place this year, Summerfest made it a September to remember by fulfilling its mission to provide a low-cost, world-class outdoor music experience for its fans.

Highlights at the festival’s largest venue, the American Family Insurance Amphitheater, included back-to-back nights with two of music’s top female artists Megan Thee Stallion and Miley Cyrus, Chance The Rapper’s only headlining show of 2021, the first show of Twenty One Pilots tour, and the first comedian to perform in the Amphitheater, Dave Chappelle. Other concerts on the 12 festival stages featured a diverse lineup with the top acts in the industry including Black Pumas, Kesha, Run the Jewels, Jake Owen, ZZ Top, Wilco, Lindsey Sterling, Bleachers, Leon Bridges, Nelly, Flaming Lips, and hundreds more.

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. (MWF), producer of Summerfest, was forced to host the event in September, due to the impact of the pandemic on the entertainment industry.  Given several significant factors impacting the festival, including the move to September, the emergence of the Delta variant, the addition of new entry protocols, the loss of public transportation, and the rainy Labor Day weekend, Summerfest attendance was less than previous years, totaling 409,386 fans during the nine-day run.  

Given these extraordinary circumstances, MWF was excited to be able to produce Summerfest in 2021, and bring a diverse lineup of the world’s biggest acts to Milwaukee’s lakefront.  While the results were not what the organization anticipated, it was significant to be able to operate Summerfest in September, during the pandemic.  MWF would like to thank the fans, vendors, and sponsors for their support this year, and look forward to seeing them next summer.

Summerfest 2022 will take place during its traditional June and July timeframe for three weekends (Thursdays-Saturdays), June 23-25, June 30-July 2, and July 7-9. MWF will evaluate the results following the 2022 Summerfest and will then make decisions based on data regarding the format for future festivals.

Beyond the music, Summerfest provided the opportunity to get in free, or for a discounted rate each day of the festival.  Thousands of patrons took advantage of the admission promotion offers, including two new promotions for 2021 - the Briggs & Stratton Mary Lou’s Closet Supply Drive, benefitting United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County and the Versiti Donate Life Drive.

For more information and a recap video of Summerfest 2021 visit Summerfest.com.