WINTERFEST COMING TO DOWNTOWN MILWAUKEE IN 2011

Premium content from The Business Journal - by Stacy Vogel Davis

Date: Friday, December 3, 2010, 5:00am CST

The Delta Center will play host to a new event with a familiar name in December 2011 in the hopes of drawing thousands of people to downtown Milwaukee.

The Wisconsin Center District has tapped Professional Events & Consulting to plan a new event called Winterfest for Dec. 8 to 11 and Dec. 15 to 18, 2011, at the Delta Center.

Organizers are promising a family-friendly event with activities for all age groups, from an indoor ice skating rink to live music to a gift market.

“It’s going to be a tremendous event for the city of Milwaukee and the surrounding areas,” said Cheryl McShane, president of Professional Events & Consulting. The firm is based in Menomonee Falls, but is moving to Milwaukee.

Organizers are hoping for attendance of 3,000 to 4,000 for each of the eight days of the festival in its first year, McShane said. It started soliciting sponsors this week and has already seen strong interest, she said.

Milwaukee World Festival Inc., the parent company of Summerfest, organized a Winterfest in downtown Milwaukee for several years in the 1990s, but it didn’t gain the popularity organizers envisioned.

A key difference for the new Winterfest is it will be indoors, a fact organizers hope will lure more families, McShane said. Admission will be free and access to many of the children’s activities, such as the skating rink, bounce houses and a rock-climbing wall, will be unlimited with purchase of a wristband.

“It’s not something where you have to pull out your wallet every corner you turn,” she said.

Organizers haven’t finalized a budget yet, McShane said. They’re hoping to pay for the entire event through sponsorships and have scheduled half a dozen meetings in the first week of soliciting sponsors.

“Our phones and e-mail have been buzzing,” she said. “There’s been huge excitement.”

Organizers hope to donate a portion of proceeds from the event to a nonprofit involving children’s literacy and are planning a mass poetry reading for the festival that they hope can break a Guinness World Record, McShane said.

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