FROM THE "MAIN STAGE" TO MOZZARELLA
I'm not as old as Summerfest is, but I was there in the early days as a kid. The memories are many, and all great... even if they weren't at the time.
My earliest memory of the Big Gig was sitting on those busted up bleachers at the "Main Stage" in the middle of the afternoon, and climbing through straw caked mud to get there. My mom really wanted to see the Britons. "They play Beatles songs," she said. "Why don't we just see the Beatles," I asked. I was a smart kid.
I also remember my parents really wanted to see the Booze Brothers. Again I asked a similar question.
Anyway... it was those acts and a plate of Mozzarella Marinara from Saz's that first come to mind when I recall Summerfest.
Oh, that and the midway where I rode my first "roller coaster" shaped like a dragon. Seriously, it was one of those lame kiddie rides that probably featured a drop of seven feet and it scared me half to death.
That's when it was my parents' Summerfest. Once you enter high school... you start thinking Summerfest is cool on its own merit. Anything's cooler, I guess, when you can start going with your friends instead of your mom and dad.
I was a Tosa East kid, and like so many of my friends, I worked at Summerfest.
Suzy's Cheesecakes recruited tons of kids from Tosa to work the booth. Between Saz's and Suzy's, any teen who needed a job in that town got one at Summerfest.
My 10 days of Summerfest turned into a real job working at the store for Mark and Suzy Strothmann (hence the name) and it was a great place to work for many years. It all started with that 5 dollar an hour job ringing registers at Summerfest.
A highlight of my Suzy's Booth Management days included an early morning stop by Bo Black. It was just a few crew members and me setting things up before the gates opened. I remember she had a cup of coffee, a big smile, and seemingly a legitimate interest in talking to me. She just wanted to know how things were going, and if there was anything she could do to help. I sure thought that was pretty cool.
Bon Jovi, 1993 headlines my top Summerfest concert of all time. They played for 3 hours... through the fireworks... it was like they just wouldn't stop. Great show!
Prince, or the artist formerly know as Prince, or whatever dude was called when I saw him. That was a great show just a few years ago.
Then there are the classics... Bodeans, Pat McCurdy, Violent Femmes... the list goes on.
Anyway... I'm proud of us here in Milwaukee. 40 years is a long time to do anything, and to keep doing it right.
Happy 40th Anniversary Summerfest. Happy Anniversary to us all.