Surviving Summerfest: Tips for having fun at the Big Gig

CREATED Jul 2, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - There have been a lot of stories in the last few days about the Summerfest crowds over the weekend. I was smack dab in the middle of that crowd, and I learned a few valuable lessons that you need to know.

1) First things first: wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

Yes, it’s summer and that sounds like shorts and flip flops, but when it’s windy and you’re surrounded in a crush of people, you’ll wish you brought a sweatshirt and wore closed-toed shoes. I suggest tennis shoes, because you’ll be standing a lot, and you’ll want some cushioning.

Plus, if you have to walk to and from parking or the shuttle, you’ll want something sturdier than flip flops, and it protects you from people stepping on your feet.
 
2) Ladies: leave your purse at home.

There’s just no room to bring a big bag, and security won’t let you in with it anyway. If you have to carry something, take a small, cross-body bag, and only carry the essentials.

3) Don’t even think about driving down to Summerfest.

There are many ways to get there, but keep your exit strategy in mind. If you take the bus, like the Green Line, everyone else will be lined up to take the Green Line back north when Summerfest closes. You will stand in line for hours, while full busses pass you by, and you’re stuck.

The Freeway Flyer is a better bet, if you live farther out. That will take you to and from a park and ride, but get to the park and ride early, because those parking spots fill up fast.

If you live in Milwaukee proper, look into taking a bar’s shuttle bus. It’s typically free if you buy a beverage beforehand, and if you’re nice to the driver, he or she will not leave you down at Summerfest. They’ll keep running the shuttle until you get back.  

4) If you buy concert tickets to the Marcus Amphitheater, leave about an hour and a half earlier than you think you need to.

You’re going to encounter traffic, slow security lines, and a lot of people. Plus, if you have lawn “seats”, you need to get in there early to stake your claim on a good spot.

Keep in mind, those lawn “seat” spots aren’t really for sitting. You’re standing the entire time (see footwear suggestion above).
 
5) Bring cash.

There are a lot of places that will take a credit card, but it’s more of a hassle and takes longer to get through the line if you try to pay with plastic. If you have cash, and I suggest bringing small bills, you can get that beer or sandwich much quicker.

6) Finally, don’t forget your patience.

This is Summerfest, the biggest music festival in the world, or so I’m told.

There are people from all over, and if you’re patient, you might just make a new friend who likes the same music as you, and have fun.

Good luck!