'A breath of fresh air': Summerfest fans and vendors reflect on first full comeback since 2019

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Another Summerfest has come and gone.

It was a special year for the festival, making a full comeback for the first time since the pandemic began, with some format changes.

While we won't get official attendance numbers for a few days, attendees and vendors agree this year was a success.

It's a beloved tradition for Milwaukee, and this year, things finally felt "right" at Henry Maier Festival Park.

"It kind of brings back a breath of fresh air, kind of what it used to be like. Actually seeing a lot of people, not wearing masks, just back to normalcy a little bit," said attendee, Darrell Robinson.

According to longtime vendors like Abel Khalek, the festival's return has been a successful one.

"Every vendor is different, but we have at least from 10 to 15 percent more than last year," Khalek said of his sales at his booth, Egyptian International Art.

Of course, this season brought the unexpected, with some canceled acts like Justin Bieber, Willow Smith, Ann Wilson, among others.

Despite that, the Summerfest spirit stayed alive.

"It's all great, we're still here, we're still celebrating, we have energy, we keep continue doing it, we don't give up," Khalek said.

The biggest change -- the festival was held over 3 weekends instead of 11 straight days.

"I think it's pretty cool that they can split it up over the weekends, I think more people can actually come out," said Robinson.

"I was used to the old way," said longtime Summerfest goer, CJ Davis, "But I'll get used to the new one too." This was Davis's 40th straight Summerfest.

After nine days of music, it's time to pack up the 'Big Big' until next year.

"It's a big part of every year," Davis said.

The venue is already preparing for next year, with a 2023 ticket giveaway that was held on Saturday, July 9.

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