Do I have to turn in my "Milwaukee card"?
If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
And, that makes me feel bad, especially when it comes to Summerfest.
I didn't go to the 45th annual bash, and I apparently wasn't alone. We're expecting hard numbers from CEO Don Smiley as I write this, and I'm going with the commonly held perception that there was plenty of elbow room at Maier Festival Park during the ten-day run.
Do you have to go to Summerfest to consider yourself a true Milwaukeean? Are you shirking an unwritten civic duty if you don't hit the lakefront for at least an hour or two to quaff a brew, dance on the odd picnic table, get corn in your teeth and feast on deep fried Saz's motz?
Yes, the weather was ungodly with more than a few days of triple-digit heat and oppressive humidity, even lakeside. Yet I sat through a Brewers game on Tuesday the 3rd, a clash that went ten innings of which I missed nary a pitch (although I did watch the final frame at the bar at the club level). It was a marathon during which Milwaukee squandered leads of 9-2 and 11-5. It was uncomfortable, but not unbearable (if you were in the shade) and I really never thought twice about NOT going. Timing wasn't good the rest of the Fest's run as we had a big trip out of state that chewed up the final weekend. Suddenly, the party was over and I'd pitched a Big Gig shutout.
Does that mean I have to turn in my "Milwaukee card"? Did I shun a local obligation? Did I thumb my nose at Summerfest vendors, some of whom are good buds of mine, by staying in my man cave instead of hopping the nearest Freeway Flyer?
Don't know. Don't think so.
There are many great local institutions that I support between my ears but not with my butt cheeks, if you know what I mean. The symphony and opera are things that make Milwaukee a better place, and I'm sure there are those who back that feeling up by purchasing tickets.
I harbor no bad feelings about Summerfest--none at all. When pleasantly comfortable, there's no better place to eat, drink and people-watch on a weekday afternoon. Complaints about music variety are dwindling, as are the beefs about crowds. The present regime gets it: a comfortably-sized gathering stays longer and spends more money, making both customers and merchants happy. Shoe-horning a million people into the lakefront's fixed footprint is no longer the crux of the Summerfest mission statement.
I hope I still can keep my Milwaukee privileges despite my failure to cast a shadow at the lakefront. I promise to try harder in the weeks ahead. I plan on doing an ethnic fest or two, promise. I'll maybe loosen up by hitting Bastille Days this coming weekend (just don't ask me to run).
And, I'll do my best to make it back for Summerfest 46 so long as that's not the temperature in Celsius.