Summerfest Attendance Down

The 11-day Milwaukee Summerfest had its lowest attendance since 1993, with sales 4 percent lower than last year, but the economy isn’t entirely to blame.

"We had rain four days out of the 11," entertainment VP Bob Babisch told Pollstar. It rained all of the second day until 9 p.m. and the other days during peak hours. "The attendance dropped a little bit and, I think, the economy hurts you a little bit, too. … We’ll get back; it was fine."

The June 26 through July 6 festival featured 11 stages and 700 bands, drew 831,024, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. However, the Summerfest business plan is based on attendance ranging from 825,000 to 900,000.

"We are pleased with our 2008 results, considering key factors that were out of our control," Milwaukee World Festival CEO Don Smiley told the paper. "We kept prices affordable, delivered a quality experience for our patrons and remained profitable during tough economic times."

Summerfest wasn’t the only annual gathering that saw lower attendance. The Waukesha County Fair in Wisconsin saw attendance drop 25 percent to its lowest level since officials started keeping track in 1990. Hot, rainy weather was cited as a factor in the drop.

Attendance at the North Dakota State Fair was down about 9,000 visitors, with a total of 239,449 people over its nine-day run in Minot. Sugarland was the top concert attraction, drawing 11,159.