By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 13, 2017 at 1:57 PM

After opening a new Miller Lite Oasis area at this year’s Summerfest and announcing that a new amphitheater would be constructed, Summerfest officials today announced the details of a new North Gate area that will better link the festival grounds to Milwaukee’s new Lakefront Gateway and Downtown.

According to a statement released today by Milwaukee World Festivals, Inc., the Historic Third Ward Architectural Review Board unanimously approved plans for the new entry, along with a new Community Plaza, adjacent to Urban Park just north of the Henry Maier Festival Park, where Summerfest and the other lakefront ethnic festivals are held each summer.

Work on the project – which was designed by Eppstein Uhen Architects – will begin on Sept. 18. A number of existing structures must be razed before work can begin on the new buildings.

"We are thrilled to continue to be a part of the exciting developments taking place on Milwaukee’s lakefront. This new entry way to Henry Maier Festival Park will enhance the festival experience for our fans as well thousands in our community who visit the lakefront" said Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.

"We certainly feel these improvements are additive to the Lakefront Gateway Project. We want to thank American Family Insurance for making this new development possible as we continue to reinvest in the future of the festival, the lakefront and the facility," he added.

Here are some highlights of the project, from today’s press release:

New entrance gate & turnstile entry area

  • The entry gate will feature digital displays, lighting and a public address system
  • Additional turnstile lines
  • Unique signature design
  • New box office
  • First Aid Station

Community Plaza

  • A public space available to all community members visiting lakefront attractions
  • Accessible benches and seating areas
  • Interactive play structures themed around music and musical instruments
  • Bike Parking
  • Eco-friendly landscaping and interactive lighting effects

The project is sponsored by American Family Insurance, which also signed on as the festival’s amphitheater sponsor this year. CG Schmidt is the construction manager for the project, which also draws on the structural expertise of Pierce Engineering.

"American Family’s partnership with Milwaukee World Festival brings together two organizations with proud histories of focusing on our customers," said Rob Quesnel, American Family Insurance vice president of marketing.

"We’re pleased to have the opportunity to support the new North Entry Gate and Plaza project, and provide an enhanced experience for the 1.3 million visitors, not only from Wisconsin but from all across the country, who attend the many popular events at Henry Maier Festival Park."

The project website is

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.