Back in February, the Milwaukee World Festival announced that Summerfest would move from its original “summer” dates in June to September to give the public more time to get vaccinated against the COVID-19. The event was cancelled for the first time in 53 years in 2020.

The 2021 festival was highly anticipated, and introduced three new major amenities to the public. They include the new $51.3 million American Family Insurance Amphitheater, the new Northwestern Mutual Community Park, and the new Generac Power Stage.

The price of admission required that individuals show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test. Because of CDC guidelines, masks were still recommended for indoor spaces, including the Summerfest Store.

The festival got its start one year prior to Woodstock in 1968. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the annual celebration of music featured over 1,000 performances on 11 stages.

The altered schedule and public health threat meant that the Summerfest experience would be notably different in 2021. Aside from lower than expected attendance, the September dates meant no summer heat. The weekend schedule also offered more nights, but fewer days. And while the Milwaukee County Transit System did not provide shuttle buses this year, private shuttles were deployed by Summerfest to help transport attendants.

This collection of images was compiled by photojournalist Rich Zimmermann over several days from the first two weeks of Summerfest, and feature the performers and people who participated in the world’s largest music festival.

© Photo

Rich Zimmermann

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