PrideFest 2017 sets a historic attendance record

With over 37,000 guests, our 30th anniversary celebration was officially the largest LGBTQ pride event in Wisconsin history.

Last weekend, beautiful weather and beautiful people combined at Milwaukee’s lakefront for the 30th anniversary of PrideFest Milwaukee, one of the nation’s largest celebrations of LGBTQ culture and community.

This year’s festival welcomed a record-breaking 37,682 visitors.  Attendance was up 13% over the previous record of 33,438 set in 2016.

View 2017 Thank You Video
produced by docUWM

“We were honored and humbled to see such colossal turnout,” said Michail Takach, vice president of Milwaukee Pride. “There was such a powerful, positive energy in the air all weekend.  I’ve never felt anything like it.”

Through the PrideFest Plus One campaign, PrideFest raised $5,109 for GSAFE, Wisconsin’s greatest advocate for LGBTQ students in an academic setting.  This is the largest sum ever raised in the PrideFest Plus One Campaign’s five-year history.

“Plus One dollars will immediately make a difference in the lives of Wisconsin students,” said Brian Juchems, GSAFE Senior Director of Education and Policy.  “Your donations support our upcoming Leadership Training Institute held at UWM at the end of July.  LTI is our annual four-day camp that bring together 45 high school activists to increase their capacity to be effective advocates for trans and queer youth in Wisconsin schools.”

Photo: Milwaukee Independent

“Your generosity helps to ensure that students who want to access this opportunity are able to do so. Thank you!”

Multiple admission specials, including Free Opening CeremoniesFests Feed Milwaukee and Armed Forces Pride promotions, ensured open access to the celebration. PrideFest Milwaukee, which does not have a single paid employee, also offers free admission to anyone who contributes to the community experience as a festival volunteer.

“This year’s festival meant more to me than anyone can possibly imagine,” said Kate Sherry, festival producer. “I can not praise our team of dedicated festival volunteers enough for their countless hours of hard work and determination to create a fun, safe, and proud space for everyone on the grounds.”

“So much is put into this festival from day one of planning, to the moment the gates close on the final night, and I am so proud of just how much we can achieve when coming together. Everything they do, is not for themselves, but for the goal of celebrating our resilient community. All weekend long, I watched people having fun, and inevitably, I’d spot one of us sitting back, smiling at the happiness and joy they helped to create.”

Photo: Kate Sherry

PrideFest Milwaukee 2017 featured headliners Betty Who, 10,000 Maniacs, Steve Grand and Todrick Hall, along with over 150 diverse acts on eight stages. Randy Rainbow, political commentator, served as Master of Ceremonies and marriage equality activist Jim Obergefell hosted Opening Ceremonies as keynote speaker.

“This year’s 30th anniversary of PrideFest was the celebration it deserved,” said Wes Shaver, president of Milwaukee Pride.

“I am so proud of our entire team of volunteers that helped orchestrate, once again, a world class event. It’s our pleasure to be a part of the United Ethnic Festivals and to officially kick off our summer festival season!”

PrideFest Milwaukee 2018 dates will be announced in July.  Sponsors, donors, volunteers and vendors are encouraged to contact


Photo: Milwaukee Independent