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Music isn't always the reason we go to the Wisconsin State Fair, but it could be

This year at the Wisconsin State Fair, we're excited about TLC, The Temptations, even Reba McEntire. They are all classics. State Fair performers usually are. From the entertainment, to family traditions like the food, pig races and the big slide, the Wisconsin State Fair is all about nostalgia. It's what we all love about going every year. We'd never want to change it completely. But, we think there is a lot of room for hipper, more innovative acts too.

Each Thursday morning on Radio Milwaukee, the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Jordan Lee talk about the music coming into Milwaukee and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In.

Read more and listen to the podcast below to hear us talk about what we think the State Fair is doing well with their local music bookings, what Summerfest has been doing even better and how the State Fair could apply that to its entertainment.

Music at the 2018 Wisconsin State Fair

The Wisconsin State Fair is about local pride. The local music lineup shows that. Starting today, August 2, Well-Known Strangers, Abby Jeanne and Tigernite will all be representing local music at the fair. Last year, we saw GGOOLLDD headlining. We want to see more of this. Because other than these artists, the lineup always been a lot of national nostalgia acts, country music and cover bands. We think it could do more.

Future of Wisconsin State Fair music

Summerfest used to be a lot like the State Fair is now. We've given them props for getting more innovative. They went from throwback artists and local cover bands to hosting local headliners like IshDARR and more relevant national artists like The Weeknd and popular EDM. We'd like to see more of this at the State Fair, because we can keep the country and the classics while mixing in more modern music to bring more music fans to the grounds.

There's a lot of room for more diverse offerings at the State Fair. It is such a massive, underutilized space when it comes to music. Instead of potentially disenfranchising the many fans of EDM, Latin music or hip-hop that live nearby, the State Fair could easily attract them with more innovative bookings or more local music.

What do we mean by innovative? Take the Minnesota State Fair for example. There, lineups have included Usher, Pentatonix, Macklemore, Chance the Rapper, The Flaming Lips, The Black Keys, The Avett Brothers, Mac Miller and more along with the classic and country acts. Sounds much fresher to us. Wisconsin can do the same thing: keep the crowd-pleasers and please a wider crowd at the same time.

88Nine Senior Director of Programming | Radio Milwaukee