Jeramey Jannene

Summerfest Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination or Negative Test

Music festival is first major outdoor event in Milwaukee area to implement requirement.

By - Aug 10th, 2021 08:51 am
Summerfest from the sky glider. Photo by Alison Peterson.

Summerfest from the sky glider. Photo by Alison Peterson.

Guests coming to Summerfest in September will need to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or test negative for the virus in less than three days (72 hours) before attending.

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. made the announcement Tuesday morning, becoming the first major outdoor event in the area to require vaccination or a negative test.

“We collaborated with national health experts and music industry executives and determined this was the best course of action for Summerfest.” said music festival president and CEO Don Smiley in a statement.

It mirrors a requirement that was in place at the Lollapalooza music festival held in Chicago two weeks ago.

The policy change is being backed by the Milwaukee Health Department.

“We are pleased with their proactive decision to implement these additional safety measures and ensure festivalgoers can feel comfortable attending this beloved music fest responsibly,” said Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson in a statement.

All attendees will be asked on entry to show a valid COVID-19 vaccination card or proof of a negative test. Original vaccination cards or printed copies will be accepted, as will digital copies provided the entire front of the vaccination card is visible.

Those seeking a test locally are encouraged to go to to find a testing site.

The new protocol will also impact the pre-Summerfest concert featuring Little Big Town and the BoDeans scheduled for August 13 at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater. Other non-Summerfest shows at the amphitheater or BMO Harris Pavilion will be subject to their own requirements and ticketholders are advised to check the venue website ahead of attending a show.

The Cactus Club, a Bay View music venue, was the first indoor concert venue in Milwaukee to require vaccination. The Pabst Theater Group is requiring vaccination on a show-by-show basis, with the August 13 Umphrey’s McGee show requiring proof of vaccination or negative test. A growing number of other Pabst Theater Group shows will have extra safety requirements.

The vaccination requirement comes amidst a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases and a growing number of employer-mandated COVID-19 testing requirements.

The rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the city of Milwaukee has gone from 25.9 on July 15 (“low transmission) to 216.4 (“extreme transmission”) on August 5.

The percentage of city residents receiving at least one vaccination dose is 43.6%, but the city is far from evenly vaccinated. Many of the areas with the lowest vaccination rates are those where the Black population is the highest. The vaccination rate also correlates strongly with neighborhood poverty rates, with lower-income areas less likely to have a high percentage of vaccinated residents.

Residents of the 53203 ZIP Code, which encompasses the Westown neighborhood, have a best-in-the-city vaccination rate of 69.9%, while residents of the 53206 ZIP Code have a city-worst vaccination rate of 30.6% according to state data.

Consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Summerfest is recommending all individuals wear masks in indoor spaces including restrooms. Unvaccinated individuals are recommended to wear masks at all times when at a large gathering. Children under 12 will be required to wear a mask.

Those not wishing to comply with the Summerfest policy may be eligible for a refund on pre-bought tickets and are encouraged to visit in the coming days.

Summerfest was canceled in 2020 and already rescheduled once in 2021. The festival is scheduled to take place on three consecutive weekends, September 2-4, 9-11 and 16-18.

The Summerfest announce does not immediately apply to any other festival being held on the Henry Maier Festival Grounds.

4 thoughts on “Summerfest Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination or Negative Test”

  1. NieWiederKrieg says:

    Allowing hundreds of thousands of people to gather together at Summerfest without masks in the middle of a pandemic is the definition of insanity… especially with the current spread of the Delta and Lambda strains of COVID.

  2. GodzillakingMKE says:

    The State fair is not doing this. The delta variant is now free to devastate Republican rural Wisconsin.

  3. Gordon Skare says:

    This would then include Irish Fest and Mexican Fiesta. Which occur prior to Summerfest.

  4. says:

    I am so happy. I get to have a bit of freedom–freedom to attend events without fear of being under attack from those who are willing and happy to spread the virus!

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