By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jul 13, 2006 at 4:54 PM
The preliminary 2006 Summerfest numbers are in and -- drum roll, please -- attendance was down and revenue was up.

Summerfest officials said in a release this afternoon that revenue from gate ticket sales and food and beverage commissions for the 2006 festival exceeded 2005 by 7.4 percent, which was ahead of operating budget.

In terms of raw attendance, the festival hit 864,866, which was down slightly from 901,841 last year and the lowest in more than a decade (2005: 901,841, 2004: 867,754 and 2001: 1,039,794) but also within the range that Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., had budgeted for this year. Individual ticket prices also jumped from $12 last year to $15, an all-time high.

"We are very pleased with our 2006 results," said Don Smiley, the president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. "The foundation of our business model calls for expert management of the ever-increasing expenses related to producing the festival, while continually exceeding the prior year’s revenue and current year revenue budget.  

"Last year, we experienced a notable 12 percent increase in revenue.  In 2006, we planned to surpass last year’s total by an additional 7.1 percent with a continued emphasis on quality and an aggressive corresponding operating budget, while projecting to attract and host approximately 825,000 to 900,000 attendees.  In the end, we were successful on all accounts.  

"I believe the results directly demonstrate and validate our philosophy of focusing on quality and profitability over quantity.  Our patrons enjoyed a quality experience, moving freely from stage to stage, and we exceeded our financial expectations.  I could not be more proud of this organization and I am thankful to everyone who attended this great festival."

Smiley said that severe weather on the final evening of the festival hurt attendance and cut revenue by an estimated $400,000. Power blackouts on two different days also may have hampered attendance somewhat.