Want a free Summerfest ticket? Get vaccinated on the festival grounds this weekend

NOW: Want a free Summerfest ticket? Get vaccinated on the festival grounds this weekend

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee will once again showcase the World's Largest Music Festival in September. City leaders want everyone enjoying that live music to be vaccinated, so they came up with a creative way to incentivize them.

On Saturday, June 5 and Sunday June 6 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Summerfest and the Milwaukee Health Department are holding a drive-thru vaccine clinic on the Summerfest grounds. Anyone who gets a COVID-19 vaccine will get a free ticket to Summerfest valid any day of the festival. No appointment is necessary.

"It's a good value. It's a $23 ticket. And who doesn't like the magic of music after being away from it for so long?" asked Don Smiley, president and chief executive officer of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.

Smiley said tickets are selling quickly for every Summerfest show this September.

"It's the fourth time we're booking the festival going all the way back to June of (2020)," he said.

Milwaukee and the entire state of Wisconsin -- we're full of culture, we're full of festivals, we're full of fun. We didn't get to have that fun last year. And while many events are coming back, it's still important for us to make sure that these things do happen safely," said Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

The idea for the vaccine incentive came from Kirsten Johnson, health commissioner for the City of Milwaukee. She approached Summerfest organizers and they said yes right away. It's the health department's first drive-thru vaccine clinic.

"We're really trying to motivate and incentivize anyone we can to get vaccinated. When we're having these large events - Summerfest in September -- the more people are vaccinated, the safer it's going to be," Johnson said.

Johnson's goal was to target people under 30, an age group the city has had trouble reaching.

"I'm thinking about students who just finished finals -- maybe not wanting to have side effects ... We tried to time it appropriately in the beginning of summer," she said.

It appears her strategy worked. CBS 58 interviewed two people who got vaccinated at the clinic, and both were under 30.

"I'm going to be a senior going into my senior year for college. My college campus is requiring the COVID shot," said Josh Schilling. "I didn't want to have to wear a mask outside on campus and have to worry about the NCAA restrictions since I'm a D3 athlete, as well."

"I came here today just to get the vaccine so I can enjoy the rest of the year and kind of have my freedom and go back to school," said 15-year-old Aiden Dimino.

Dimino's mom, Lynn Grudzielanek, brought him to get his second dose.

"We travel, we have elderly in the family, we have immunocompromised kids in the family. So it's really important that not only does (Aiden) take care of himself but the others around him," Grudzielanek said.

Summerfest is asking unvaccinated people to wear a mask when they come in September.

City leaders are hoping a little incentive will go a long way.

"I love Summerfest. I try to go at least a couple times every year, and not having to pay for one ticket is $20 that I get to save," Schilling said.

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