The Big Gig is back! Summerfest kicks off 2021 run 🎶🎸

NOW: The Big Gig is back! Summerfest kicks off 2021 run 🎶🎸

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Summerfest is back! Gates open to the Big Gig at noon on Thursday, Sept. 2. 

Summerfest 2021 takes place Sept. 2-4, Sept. 9-11, and Sept. 16-18. 

to some milwaukeeans - summerfest is the best event of the year.

"This is my thing," Jermal Curry said. "This is my bag right here. I love doing this. I love Summerfest."

After a year off, the festivals biggest fans were eager to return.

"I love it," Michael Durst said. "I love it. I missed it last year."

"It's nice to be out here on a nice day, and listen to the music, and see people enjoy it," Heidi Hammel said.

Vendors are enjoying the return of an event that makes up a large portion of their yearly revenue.

"Probably 20 percent," Levi Koenen said. "So that's quite a bit for a year round total."

"This is, you know, a good money maker for all the people involved with our small family company," said Lisa Holliday with Old World Almonds. "You know, we really count on all this stuff, and it's just been really nice to come back."

To get into the Summerfest grounds, you need either proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. Proof of vaccination can be the physical copy or a picture on your phone. 

A recent negative test is three or fewer days before you arrive. Summerfest announced you can also take a rapid test upon entry. Rapid testing will be available on-site at both the North and South entrance gates. The cost is $25 per test. Tickets for the Rapid COVID-19 on site test can be purchased at the ticket windows at the North and South Gate of Henry Maier Festival Park.

"You come over to the tent, you swab both sides for five seconds, and wait ten minutes, and then they'll tell you one line is negative, and two lines is positive," Trista Borchardt said of the rapid test. "So I'm going to see Luke Bryant."

Some did not feel the new rules were made clear enough ahead of time. One family who drove from Chicago said they are vaccinated, but did not know it would be necessary to bring proof.

"Now we have to go home, without seeing the fest," John Skar said. "So we paid for a motel, we paid for gas, we came up here, and now we have to turn around and go home."

Masks are optional for adults but mandatory for kids 11 or younger. 

General admission tickets are $23 but there are also special deals.

From noon to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 2, you can get in for free by bringing three non-perishable food items to donate to Hunger Task Force, or make a $10 donation. The first 2,500 people to donate a children's book will also get one free ticket on Thursday. 

CLICK HERE to learn how to get in to Summerfest FREE each day! 

You can also claim a free ticket by downloading the Summerfest app.

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