Summerfest COVID rules: Fans mixed for 1st concert

Live music was back along Milwaukee's lakefront on Friday night, Aug. 13, but for the first time, there were new rules to get inside.

Thousands of country music fans headed to the Summerfest grounds to hear Little Big Town, but some gave up their tickets – not wanting to put up with new COVID-19 protocols.

To get inside, fans had to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours. While everything at the entry gate seemed to go smoothly on Friday, the rules came with mixed feelings.

"For us, it’s just about being about to be out and about," said Jan Murray. "It makes you feel safer. It’s not a big deal."

Little Big Town and BoDeans were the first artists to perform at Henry Maier Festival Park with the protocols in place.

"Out of the 800 bands we have signed here, we don’t know who wants what yet.  We do know that there’s enough headliners that are going to impose restrictions – so we got out ahead of it," said Don Smiley, CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.

Fans at the Summerfest grounds for a Little Big Town concert, the first with updated COVID-19 entry protocols in place.

Earlier in the week, Smiley aid the decision comes as COVID-19 cases rise and to help the organization keep shows on stage. Some fans have no problem with it.

"When you get in these large crowds you have to do something to protect everybody so it’s not too much to ask," said Manuel Galavan.


But it wasn't music to all fans' ears. Some were deterred from coming at all.

"There were five of us going, and three of us decided to not go because of this," said Lisa Hawley. She wishes she had more of a heads-up to get a rapid COVID-19 test beforehand. "I don’t believe they gave us enough time to prepare, because I am not vaccinated and now I have to pay $20 to get a test tonight."

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Despite the mixed feelings about the new protocols, the excitement around the return of live music had fans amped up.

The same protocols will be in place for Summerfest.

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