Summerfest: COVID vaccine, negative test required to attend

After skipping 2020 and pushing this year's Summerfest to three September weekends, the show is going – with a bit of a twist.

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. announced Tuesday, Aug. 10 that a COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result will be required to attend Summerfest 2021, including the Wednesday Weekend Preview concerts held at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater.  

The announcement was made with the support of the city of Milwaukee Health Department.

"We’ve looked at other concerts and festivals around the country to come up with a game plan," said Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. (MWF).

One of the largest factors in the decision – the bands.

"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," Smiley said.


The entrance protocol will also be in effect for the MWF-produced Little Big Town/BoDeans concert on Friday, Aug. 13 at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater.

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Requirement details

Upon entry at any gate, all attendees will be asked to show a valid COVID-19 vaccination card or proof of a negative test. An original vaccination card, a printed copy of a valid vaccination card, or a negative test will be accepted. Documentation may also be presented in digital form, such as a screenshot or photo, on a phone. For any vaccine documentation in reprinted form (printed copy, phone screenshot, etc.), the entire front of the vaccination card must be visible, or it will not be accepted.

For patrons who are not fully vaccinated, a negative COVID-19 test result must be obtained within 72 hours (3 days) of attending the festival. To avoid any entry delay, please obtain a test before coming to the concert. Local testing information is available at

"We encourage people to get tested prior to – if they aren’t vaccinated already – so they have an easier time getting onto the grounds," Smiley said.


Per current CDC guidelines, MFW recommends masks for indoor spaces, including the Summerfest Store, first aid stations and restrooms.  If an individual is unvaccinated, it is recommended that a mask be worn when attending large gatherings. Children under the age of 12 will be required to wear a mask. If any individual is experiencing COVID-like symptoms, they are strongly encouraged to remain at home.

"We don’t know how many people aren’t going to come because of this, and we know there will be people that will say, ‘Oh that’s a great idea. It’s safe, let’s go," said Smiley.

Refunds for general admission and concert tickets may be available pending Ticketmaster policies. Check in the days to come for more information.



Summerfest fans divided

The new entry rules leave Charlie Miller and his wife feeling better about heading to the Big Gig. They've been vaccinated since march.

"It probably makes you feel a little better, but I never got too worked up about it," Miller said.

For Rick Hejdak, the mask requirement for children under 12 means he might keep his son, Ethan, home.

"It probably would make a difference – walking in the heat with a mask, I probably wouldn’t take him," said Hejdak.


American Family Insurance Amphitheater

While some applaud the policies, the news it's exactly music to all fans' ears. Off camera, some people told FOX6 News that the move strikes a sour note. On social media, opinions were more direct.

"What a joke…here we go infringing on out freedom," one person wrote on the FOX6 Facebook page.

"Goodbye Summerfest…or should I say Bummerfest," added another.