By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 24, 2017 at 7:17 PM

Summerfest might be the World’s Largest Music Festival, but in celebration of its 50th year, it's upping the ante on fest food. In fact, there will be more than 50 new items featured this year from 45 local food and beverage purveyors.

Summerfest food and beverage director Julie Clemins said she posed a challenge to food vendors for 2017: "We need to evolve to stay relevant," she said. "And that means paying attention to trends, including an increased interest in ethnic fare, shareable food and, because Summerfest requires walking and eating, foods that are easily transportable."

And while Summerfest favorites like Saz’s sampler platter aren’t going anywhere, there will be a variety of new foods to satiate your festival cravings, including a variety of burgers like this one from AJ Bombers featuring a smashburger style patty, American cheese and Nueske's bacon on a potato roll with a side of tots.

New foods

As for the brand new foods, the list is immense. But here are 15 new options that caught my eye:

1. Angelo’s Stuffed Pasta Pizza

Garlic Romano crust stuffed with penne pasta, homemade meatballs and Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese and signature red sauce. Get it at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse.

2. Cedar Crest’s Waffle Nachos Hot Fudge Sundae

Vanilla ice cream with hot fudge, waffle nachos, whipped cream and a cherry. Get it at the Northwestern Mutual Children’s Area.

3. Chubby’s Cheesesteaks Spicy Pepper Jack Cheese Bites

Piping-hot, bite-sized pieces of Wisconsin pepper jack cheese, coated in crisp breading and fried to perfection. Get them at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater Forecourt.

4. Divino’s Burrata Caprese

Burrata served with Roma tomatoes, spring mix, olive oil and balsamic glaze. Get it at the Ethnic Village.

5. Greek Village Keftedes

Homemade Greek meatballs served over rice with garlic mint tomato sauce. Get it at the Ethnic Village or Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard.

6. Louise’s Trattoria Shortrib Arancini with Truffle Cream

Homemade parmesan risotto combined with Chianti-braised short ribs, breaded, deep fried and served with truffle cream sauce. Get it at at Water Street Brewery.

7. Mader’s Bacon Spaetzle Mac & Cheese

Homemade spaetzle with Swiss cheese sauce, hickory smoked bacon and chives. Get it at the Ethnic Village.

8. Millie’s Italian Crusted Cheese Curds

Fried white cheddar cheese curds coated with Italian spices and sprinkled with parsley and Romano cheese. Get it at the Ethnic Village.

9. Peter Sciortino’s Jumbo Salty Dog Cupcake

Vanilla cupcake filled with caramel and topped with light caramel buttercream, roasted peanuts and salt. Get it at the Miller Lite Oasis.

10. Saz’s Dockside Deep Fried Bread Pudding Bites

Cedar Crest Premium Vanilla ice cream surrounded by a trio of house-made deep-fried vanilla bread pudding bites, drizzled with sea salt caramel. Get 'em at the BMO Harris Pavilion.

11. Solo Bacon Ravioli  

Completely noodle-less ravioli made with 6 slices of hand-woven bacon, filled with ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella, then served with BBQ ranch dipping sauce. Get them at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater Forecourt.

12. Usinger’s Wurst Garden Jumbo Pretzel

A 24-ounce soft Bavarian pretzel, salted, buttered and served with German mustard and cheese sauce. Suitable for sharing! Get it at the Ethnic Village.

13. Vagabond Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Tacos

Two tacos filled with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Vagabond chili, coffee smoked brisket, serrano crema, pickled red pepper, cheese curds and scallions. Get them at the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard.

14. Water Street Brewery’s Yard Bird Nachos

Chipless nachos made with crispy chicken cracklins smothered with cheesy mashed potatoes, house-rubbed pulled chicken, corn salsa, homemade pickled peppers (gluten free and low carb). Get them at Water Street Brewery.

15. Wong’s Wok Festival Plate

Grilled Kowloon beef, sesame chicken and chicken fried rice. Get it at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse.

New vendors at Summerfest this year include Valentine Coffee Roasters, which will be located within the BMO Harris Pavilion area and offering hot or iced coffee, cafe mochas, cafe au laits and espresso, along with hot, iced and chai tea.

Two popular vendors will also have second locations. Charcoal Grill will add a location in the Ethnic Village where it'll serve burgers, rotisserie chicken, turkey legs, bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, ribs and more. Peter Sciortino’s Bakery will also have a bakery location at the BMO Harris Pavilion with Miller Lite that features cookies, brownies, tiramisu eclairs and six new jumbo cupcakes.

Summerfest takes place June 28 to July 2 and July 4-9 at the Henry Maier Festival Grounds. For more information, visit

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.