Summerfest COVID rules 'smooth' for some, didn't apply to all

As Summerfest officially returns, one of the big changes to the Big Gig is COVID-19 entry requirements.

Attendees will be asked at the gates to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test before continuing through security and presenting an admission ticket. Summerfest previously said that will be required for everyone, but FOX6 News found out firsthand that that was not the case.

After 788 days without Summerfest, the music festival made a September coming, officially reopening Thursday, Sept. 2. Hundreds poured through the gates that afternoon, each marking the milestone in their own special way.

"This is my 50th Summerfest in a row," said Katie Kohlbeck. "I’m glad for all safety precautions. I’m looking to get my booster. They should give them down here"

It has been a while since Kohlbeck was carded, but to ensure a safer music festival she was happy to oblige. 

"It went really smooth – you just show your ticket, show your COVID-19 card on there and you're in," said Chris Behling.

People wait in line to enter Summerfest on Sept. 2, the first day since 2019.

That was not the case for everyone.

At least four members of the FOX6 crew entered the grounds early on Thursday without being asked to prove vaccination status. Off camera, several vendors told FOX6 they could not get their admission materials without following all of the guidelines in place and were also surprised.

"Someone will probably hear about that," said Diana Larsen.

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All attendees who spoke to FOX6 Thursday said the process was quick and they did not see anyone left out.

"I am pleased. We were here for Maroon 5 and they haphazardly checked at the amphitheater," said Helen Schmidt.

A Summerfest spokeswoman told FOX6 their team at the gate should have asked for proof of vaccination or negative test. FOX6 asked to speak to someone on camera but was told Summerfest did interviews on the topic Wednesday night and were too busy to discuss it again Thursday.

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