Summerfest 2020 Canceled Following Initial Postponement

Courtesy of Summerfest
– Summerfest
Milwaukee’s Summerfest canceled its 2020 event on Thursday.

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. announced the cancellation of Summerfest 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on Thursday.

“After careful, diligent, and thoughtful consideration and out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our community –including artists, fans, vendors, participants and staff – Summerfest presented by American Family Insurance will not take place in September 2020, as previously announced,” Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. president and CEO Don Smiley wrote in a statement.

The massive Wisconsin event, originally scheduled for late June and early July, had already been postponed in March to three September weekends due to the coronavirus. Booked performers included Justin Bieber, Dave Matthews Band, Luke Bryan and Khalid.

“With five decades of festivals, countless legendary performances and millions of memories, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. explored numerous options to ensure the Summerfest tradition could continue in 2020, in a safe and healthy manner,” Smiley continued. “Yet, given the information available today, and the uncertainty surrounding very large gatherings, we cannot in good conscience proceed with the festival this year.  The immediate future presents multiple levels of risk for our fans, and we choose the side of safety.”

Additionally, Smiley detailed the devastating financial impact of the festival’s cancellation, explaining that staff had “worked tirelessly over the past two months to reformulate the festival,” which generates an economic footprint of $186 million, for the September 2020 dates.

“The uncertainties are too great,” Smiley said.

According to data compiled by the New York Times, new cases per day per 100,000 people rose in Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County from 18.6 on May 19 to 20.3 on June 2.

In a 2019 cover story, VenuesNow covered the extensive renovations Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. has overseen at Summerfest venue American Family Insurance Amphitheater, which Smiley also referenced in his statement.

“Our present situation is especially disheartening, given that the new $53 million American Family Insurance Amphitheater was scheduled to open on June 24, ready to host over 20 superstars during and after Summerfest,” he said. “We are grateful to American Family Insurance and all the donors who made this new venue possible, and look forward to welcoming artists and fans in 2021.”

Refunds for Summerfest admission and other information about concerts at American Family Insurance Amphitheater and affiliated, adjacent venue BMO Harris Pavilion are available at

This year’s Summerfest would have marked the first edition of the long-running event since it inked a preferred promoter agreement with Wisconsin-based Frank Productions Concerts in October 2019.