Despite chilly weather, thousands converge on State Street for Freakfest 2017

October 29, 2017 GMT

Thousands of mostly costume-clad celebrants braved chilly weather to descend on State Street Saturday night for Madison’s annual Halloween bash.

While temperatures dipped into the mid-30s by 9 p.m., Freakfest attendees weren’t deterred by the chilly night. Although some said they changed plans for their costumes or added extra layers to stay warm, the cold wasn’t keeping them from having fun.

The Halloween celebration has taken place the Saturday before the holiday since 2006. This year’s event was the coldest since at least 2012, according to National Weather Service data.


Although she said she usually plans for colder temperatures, “this is the coldest it’s been for sure,” 26-year-old Jessica Thomas, of Lake Geneva, said of her third year at the event.

For others, like Courtney Walton, 20, who was dressed as a world-champion boxer, the cold wasn’t detracting from her fun.

“I have six hand and feet warmers on,” she said. “I’m really not cold at all.”

Freakfest attendees dressed up in a wide range of costumes that ranged from President Donald Trump, Batman, ghoulish creatures, Harry Potter, Care Bears and Left Shark, of Super Bowl XLIX fame, among others.

Thousands were expected to show up to the event along State Street. In past years, between 28,000 and more than 43,000 tickets for the event were sold.

While attendees strolled up and down State Street or listened to music at one of the event’s three stages, others warmed up in bars and restaurants lining the street.

As of about 9:15 p.m., Madison Police Department spokesman Joel DeSpain said there hadn’t been any notable incidents, adding that crowds typically begin to swell and peak after 11 p.m.

This year, acclaimed rapper DRAM was set to headline the musical acts. He was scheduled to take the Capitol Square stage at about 12:30 a.m., following funk and soul legend George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

Elm Grove residents Chad and Dorothy Leipolt alternate spending Halloween in Las Vegas and at Freakfest. They said they especially enjoy looking at all the creative costumes when they come to Freakfest.

Although the cold forced Chad Leipolt to abandon his original plan to dress up as Wonder Woman and instead go as a “happy” unicorn, he was still having a good time looking at all the costumes.

“We just love it, seeing everybody in their costumes,” said 44-year-old Chad Leipolt, of Elm Grove. “You may get 50,000 people wearing costumes.”

Gates opened at 7 p.m and will close at 1:30 a.m.

Dayton, Gorham, Johnson, Lake and State streets will be closed for the event until about 3 a.m.