By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 05, 2020 at 1:47 PM Photography: Summerfest

After two decades, Harley-Davidson's sponsorship partnership with Milwaukee World Festival – which included the naming rights to the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage – has come to an end, according to a statement released Thursday afternoon by festival organizers.

It marks the end of a long-term relationship – whether permanent or temporary, who can say? – between two iconic Milwaukee institutions.

Here is the complete statement from Summerfest:

"Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. is grateful for the two decades that Harley-Davidson was a major sponsor of Summerfest, but that time has come to an end.  We enjoyed having Harley-Davidson associated with Summerfest and celebrate the many diverse artists that played the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse through the years, including Keith Urban, Pitbull, Hall & Oates, Scorpions, Wiz Khalifa, The Doobie Brothers, Lil Uzi Vert, Louis The Child, and Sugarland. 

"As times change, Summerfest, the Milwaukee business community, and our sponsors evolve, bringing new opportunities.  All of us at Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. are looking forward to a new chapter of the festival in 2021, including bringing on new partners to grow Summerfest. The magic of music is at the core of the Summerfest experience, and the same world-class performances will live on, allowing a new generation of performers and fans to create festival memories."

No replacement sponsor for the stage has yet been announced, but a social media post said that announcement could come soon.



“As we overhaul our business and execute The Rewire, every function and process is being rebuilt from the ground up to prioritize our efforts and drive sharper focus, including The Harley-Davidson Foundation," said a Harley spokesperson in an email.

"We celebrate the Summerfest memories created through the years and will continue to provide essential support to the Milwaukee community through our Foundation giving.”

Summerfest has changed its format for the 2021 festival after two attempts at a 2020 were quashed by the pandemic.

Next year, instead of an 11-day festival spread across 12 consecutive days in June and July, Summerfest will be held on three consecutive Thursday-Sunday weekends during the same period.


Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.