2018 will mark the second time in 69 years that the South Shore Frolics will be suspended, according to event organizers at the Bay View Lions Club.
The event, which began in 1948 as the South Shore Water Frolics in Bay View’s South Shore Park, has taken place every year since, except 1993. Beginning in 1995, the Bay View Lions Club has hosted the free three-day event featuring food, music, a classic car show, an art show, a parade, and other family activities, including the famous ‘atomic’ fireworks to close each evening.
“A number of our fixed costs continue to increase leaving us with no options except to suspend the Frolics for 2018,” says Bay View Lions Club president, Lyn Graziano. “Our basic costs from the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, and Milwaukee County Parks, as well as outside vendors have risen to the point where it is extremely difficult to produce a profit — any profit.”
The Frolics attracts 50,000-60,000 people annually, though it once attracted more than 200,000 in its earlier decades. Held the second full weekend of July, the at least one-year suspension leaves a summer entertainment void for thousands of attendees including generations of families who have grown-up attending the festival.
“The Frolics, the Bay View Lions Club’s largest annual fundraiser, has for three out of the last four years failed to be profitable. The lack of profitability has meant that the Bay View Lions Club doesn’t have the revenue it needs for its community support efforts. Further, the losses have hurt the Bay View Lions Club ability to sponsor disabled children to the Lions Camp, support the Lions Leader Dog Program for the blind, as well as contribute to the Lions Disaster Relief programs,” added Graziano. “The fireworks uncertainty, regarding the grand finale and its signature ‘blow-up-the-beach fireworks’ the last two years, has also adversely impacted the Frolics attendance and revenue.”
Despite having a group of loyal and generous sponsors, the need for more permanent sponsorship remains a challenge to counter-balance rising costs. It is too early to tell if the event will be discontinued for 2019 and beyond, but it needs desperate assistance from the public, local government officials, and business leaders in order to continue.
The Frolics has been a major summer event in Milwaukee County, and free to the public. Its cancelation joins the ranks of other festivities, with decades-long traditions, that the community has lost like West Allis Western Days, the Circus Parade, and RiverFest.
Bay View Lions Club