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Summerfest vendors have mixed feelings about turnout, sales

September 19, 2021 GMT

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The return of a popular annual music festival in Milwaukee wasn’t what some vendors expected.

After the event was canceled last year due to the coronavirus, Summerfest 2021 ended with mixed reports. Sellers who set up shop for the first time generally marked it a success while longtime vendors saw it as a “total bust.”

Vendors said during Saturday’s last day of the two-week concert that the crowds had picked up a bit more from the start but remained low compared to previous years. Surging cases of the delta variant of COVID-19 and new pandemic protocols were cited as possible factors, the Journal Sentinel reported.

“This was not what I expected,” said Kagan Tate, owner of Butterfly Connection. “A total bust.”

Tania Espinoza Bonilla, owner of T for Textile, was selling for the first at a large festival. Although she didn’t see the crowds she had hoped for, she was thankful for the exposure and connections she made for her business.

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“I’m sure the vaccine rule made a lot of people angry, but I supported it,” she said. “It was good to learn and I made a lot of connections here.”

Even before the pandemic, Summerfest had already experienced reduced attendance and in 2019 saw the lowest participation since 1986 with just more than 718,000 festgoers. Officials have not provided daily attendance numbers and would not comment on the numbers while the event was running.