Talkin’ Milwaukee Summerfest

Milwaukee’s Summerfest has been around since 1968 and is still going strong. It touts itself as the world’s largest festival, and there’s a case for it. How big is it? One year, when Summerfest considered hiking its beer prices, the news was big enough for the Associated Press to pick up the story. The festival traditionally lasts 11 days filled with music and food, and brings in almost 1 million visitors. The “Big Gig” is held at Henry Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront, and this year’s festival kicks off June 26.

Longtime entertainment director Bob Babisch tells Pollstar this year’s Summerfest will be even better than usual.

First of all, believe it or not, this is the first time we’ve spoken to you at length. Can you please give a quick rundown of your history?

I started here in 1977 or ’78. I’ve lost track! I was studying in the theatre business when I hooked up with a company called Daydream Productions, doing some of their backstage running. Randy McElrath, Alan Dulberger and Charlie Fain owned it. I did that for a few years. I moved over to the Edgewood Agency. I moved over here when all the guys running Summerfest decided to go to Chicago to start Chicago Fest.

I got a call one day, on a Wednesday, and by Thursday I had a job here. I’ve been the entertainment director since 1978. Read the rest of this Pollstar interview here…

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