Thursday, June 28, 2007
My sister just gave me today's topic. Thanks Andi!
Summerfest celebrates its 40th birthday this year. Billed as the world's largest music festival, it is 11 days of music, food, beer and LOTS and LOTS of people.
Summerfest is Milwaukee's homage to summer (I guess that's where they got the name, clever, huh?) What started as a small dream of civic boosterism has developed into a world-class event attended by millions.
I think I remember the first one that was held down at the Lakefront. It was in 1970, the year of the Sly and the Family Stone debacle. I guess the show eventually went on, but I remember WOKY "boycotting" their songs for a bit. Chicago also played that year, and I really wanted to go, but we were camping.
During the years 1971-1980 I attended at least once each year. I'd ride my bike down on the free day and just walk around. During high school years my girlfriends and I would go and check out the boys as well as the bands. Truth be told, the only bands I remember seeing were Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and the Doors (which was lame since Jim Morrison had already died).
Those early days were pretty rowdy and I remember one night some kids burned up some picnic tables. As a result, Milwaukee's Finest started making their presence known, so we started calling it "Bummerfest" The facilities were pretty rugged too. The stage was open to the elements and when it rained the grounds became a mud pit.
Summerfest got really popular in the late 70's and it could get super crowded. Some really great bands have played there, I think even U2. The mix of headliner bands has something for everyone and then all the satellite stages cater to the niche groups. Country, jazz, alternative, ethnic. I see one of the bands appearing is the "Family Stone Experience". Hmmm, let's hope after 40 years they got their act together.
Food is another huge element to the Summerfest experience. Many of Milwaukee's popular restaurants have food booths at the site. Ribs, pizza, chicken, sauerbraten,Cajun, tacos, to name a few. Even Midwest Airlines' famous chocolate chip cookies! And of course, deep fried everything.
Which brings us to the beer. Lots of beer. Lots and lots of beer.
You get the idea.
But hey, that's Milwaukee!
This Year's LineUp