In Festival Guide

We miss you, Summerfest. (PHOTO: Andy Tarnoff)

100 things we miss about Summerfest

Today may feel like just another Wednesday in our new normal, but in a better, healthier timeline, today would be anything but.

June 24 was supposed to mark the start of Summerfest, and we should be enjoying live music from Dave Matthews, Halsey and more, chowing down on our first of many Saz's sampler platters and feelings extremely ancient surrounded by concert goers who are barely older than Twitter. Instead, the Big Gig has been canceled, and we're all doing our best to keep ourselves and everyone else healthy by social distancing and generally staying home. Safe to say this year has not gone as hoped.

The good news is that almost all of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater headliners are signed on to return next year for Summerfest 2020: Version 2.0. The bad news is that's still not for another 365-some days, and there's a massive Big Gig-shaped hole in our hearts today, so let's try to fill it by reminiscing about 100 things that we miss about the world's largest music festival.

  1. You, Milwaukee. We really miss seeing you.

  2. Taking a Summerfest shuttle

  3. Eating Saz's mozzarella sticks

  4. Riding the Skyglider (no spitting, please)

  5. Drinking freshly squeezed lemonade

  6. Checking out all the bikes in the Harley-Davidson parking area

  7. Watching the Big Bang on opening night

  8. Eating corn on the cob – even if we end up with bits stuck in our teeth for the rest of the day

  9. Marveling at all of the new upgrades and stage updates around the grounds (Remember: We should be enjoying a brand new Amp this year.)

  10. Knocking back a Summer Shandy

  11. Getting temporary tattoos

  12. Dancing on a picnic table like no one can see you (but they very much can)

  13. Buying airbrushed T-shirts with your and your honey's name on it

  14. Reading the entire Summerfest lineup when it comes out and mapping out what concerts you're going to see

  15. Reading everyone in the comments complain about the Big Gig lineup, because everyone always complains. (Yes, we even miss the annoying parts)

  16. Simply enjoying a beer while roaming around the grounds and people-watching

  17. Feeling like a real VIP while hanging out in the Level Up decks.

  18. Grabbing a drink at Club Charlie's or one of the other Third Ward bars on your way to the grounds

  19. Supporting local music by checking out and cheering on the many awesome Milwaukee bands that hit the Big Gig stages throughout the day

  20. Watching a live newscast (and feeling very tempted to photobomb the reporters)

  21. Getting a foot massage for a quarter at one of those barrel chairs

  22. Taking boat excursions on the Iroquois

  23. Stumbling upon a band that you've never heard of before but that totally puts on a great live show

  24. Telling your friends you'll meet up at the fountain, the "official" Summerfest meeting place

  25. Feeling the excitement when the lights go down and you know the band you've come to see if going to come out any second

  26. Marveling at the walking statues holding steady throughout the park

  27. Tipping the strolling performers, that guy who plays six instruments at once and the drumline group busting out awesome beats on the buckets

  28. We even miss the ticket guys on the street, asking us if we got any extra tickets. I guess we've all got extra tickets for this year's edition ...

  29. Trying all of the crazy new food options (not in one day, though, for our heart's sake)

  30. Trying (and failing) to hit a hole in one. One of these years, though ...

  31. Eating one of those massive turkey legs

  32. Buying some big cheap sunglasses (probably because we dropped and lost our other pair)

  33. Getting your caricature drawn

  34. Catching a breeze and a break from the hubbub on the rocks

  35. Checking out the water ski show

  36. Riding a Bublr bike to the grounds – which you can do now as well, just not with a large music festival to greet you when you arrive

  37. Playing a little bingo

  38. Playing beach volleyball

  39. Taking a video of the show and sending it to your friend who unfortunately couldn't make it

  40. Taking a photo at the big guitar and instruments art display

  41. Enjoying a Hawaiian shave ice

  42. Buying a soda from a massive root beer barrel

  43. Walking along the lake to get from one end of the grounds to the other, which is almost easier than taking the main drag

  44. Spending all day on the grounds because you smartly took off work on Friday

  45. Walking toward the exits after your show, high on an awesome concert (and on some of the weed smoke around you)

  46. Walking to Summerfest from your parking spot a few miles away. Hey, all that exercise means that you can have even more beer and festival food, right?

  47. Cheering at the SportsZone for the Bucks' Rim Rockers

  48. Walking past the cool buildings and businesses in the Third Ward

  49. Having a pregame rooftop cocktail at The Outsider atop the Kimpton

  50. Looking up at the Hoan Bridge and wondering what traffic's like up there

  51. Catching a nooner (a noon concert, that is)

  52. Celebrating Military Appreciation Day with all of its displays, drill teams and more

  53. Buying popcorn from a Koepsell's popcorn wagon

  54. Buying your grandma a Summerfest hat

  55. Taking a beer break and having a martini at JoJo's Martini Lounge on the south end

  56. Stacking your beer empties until you get the Slinky effect goin' on

  57. Riding the Ferris wheel

  58. Desperately trying to find a phone charging station before your phone bites it

  59. One word: Zumba

  60. Racing home to write our concert reviews on OnMilwaukee. We never thought we'd miss working those late and exhausting hours ... but here we are

  61. Getting in to Summerfest for free with its many, many discounts and ticket specials

  62. Buying a beer for a friend

  63. Becoming friends with the bartender working the stand by your stage

  64. Grabbing a lawn seat at the Amp to see the biggest names at the Biggest Gig

  65. I can't believe we're saying this, but we miss getting beer spilled on us. We're even reminiscing about the annoying parts!

  66. Crunching down on some almonds

  67. Buying a pewter dragon or a unicorn T-shirt in the shopping area

  68. Trying to get a juggler to drop his balls

  69. Enjoying even the pain in your knees after standing for so long on the bleachers and realizing that you're getting old

  70. Kicking back on a bench and getting a tan (and tan lines)

  71. Hearing the echoes of the final concert still rocking out at the end of the night

  72. Checking out all of the various booths and stations trying to sell you stuff

  73. Hearing the lead singer yell, "How're we doing tonight, Summerfest?!"

  74. People-watching. The finest people-watching

  75. Grumpily judging all of the people watching the live show through their cell phone screens

  76. Waking up the next day and realizing you've completely lost your voice

  77. Marveling at the magic show

  78. Hanging by the stage entrances in the hopes of snagging an autograph from your favorite bands

  79. When the band you're seeing finally plays the hit song you've been waiting to hear all night

  80. Sneaking a cute kiss near the lake

  81. Standing at the north end of the grounds and watch the Milwaukee Art Museum's wings open (or close)

  82. Taking the kids to see the talent on the Children's Theater

  83. Realizing that you actually know a song by the seemingly anonymous band on stage that you've kind of been half-listening to, maybe

  84. Marveling at all of the cowboy boots and hats in line for the country music concert at the Amp that night

  85. Making faces at the radio people as they broadcast live from the grounds

  86. Laughing at all the men who still wear socks with their sandals (but honestly, at this point, we commend them for committing to their fashion choices)

  87. Counting all of the bald heads, naked bellies and mullets you see while people-watching

  88. Running into "everyone" from your high school class

  89. Eating a funnel cake

  90. Making new friends with the strangers sitting around you

  91. Hanging out at the drum circle and wondering if they ever stop playing (they never do)

  92. Breathing in the glorious scent of Sil's mini donuts

  93. Kicking back and chilling in the air-conditioned Cool Down Lounge

  94. Battling the July heat at the cooling stations

  95. Checking out the bands on the Rebel Stage, the only one not booked by Summerfest

  96. Laughing at ComedySportz

  97. Enjoying Milwaukee's best sausage at the Usinger's Wurst Garden

  98. Trying standup paddle boarding and kayaking for free at The Summerfest Landing – and then falling into the water when we're ready to cool off a bit

  99. Being with people, having fun and being care free

  100. Already looking forward to next year's lineup

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