Milwaukee Midsummer Festival


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Mayor DANIEL HOAN declared the week of July 16, 1933 the “Milwaukee Homecoming.” Inspired by ethnic festivals he observed on a recent trip to Europe, Hoan transformed the upcoming Elks National Convention of 1933 into a similar gathering in Milwaukee.[1] Convention organizers opened activities to all Milwaukee citizens as well as to the visiting Elks. Free admission appealed to cash-strapped, Depression-era citizens starved for entertainment.[2] Following the successful display of fireworks, boat races, swimming contests, carnival rides, BEER GARDENS, and ethnic pageants, Hoan made it an annual event co-sponsored by city and county officials, and it was renamed the Midsummer Festival in 1935.[3] Running until 1941, when the outbreak of war shifted Milwaukeeans’ focus to national events, the Midsummer Festival is considered a predecessor to Milwaukee’s SUMMERFEST.[4]

Footnotes [+]

  1. ^ Victor Greene, “Dealing with Diversity: Milwaukee’s Multiethnic Festivals and Urban Identity, 1840-1940,” in Perspectives on Milwaukee’s Past, eds. Margo Anderson and Victor Greene (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 301.
  2. ^ John Gurda, “The First Summerfest, 1930s-Style: Depression Spawned the First of Milwaukee’s Lakefront Festivals,” in Cream City Chronicles: Stories of Milwaukee’s Past (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2007), 255.
  3. ^ “Festival Time at Hand Again—City Awaits Opening Saturday,” The Milwaukee Journal, July 12, 1940.
  4. ^ John Gurda, “The First Summerfest, 1930s-Style,” 255.

For Further Reading

Greene, Victor. “Dealing with Diversity: Milwaukee’s Multiethnic Festivals and Urban Identity, 1840-1940.” In Perspectives on Milwaukee’s Past, edited by Margo Anderson and Victor Greene, 285-315. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

Gurda, John. “The First Summerfest, 1930s-Style: Depression Spawned the First of Milwaukee’s Lakefront Festivals.” In Cream City Chronicles: Stories of Milwaukee’s Past, 255-258. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2007.

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