By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 29, 2024 at 9:01 AM

The Great Milwaukee Summer is HERE! Your guide to what you'll be doing, where you'll be drinking, who you'll be hearing and how you'll be getting a sweet tan this summer is on OnMilwaukee. The Great Milwaukee Summer guide is brought to you by Geis Garage Doors and Peoples State Bank

Summerfest unveiled its new renovated covered stage near the Mid-Gate on Wednesday.

The former Johnson Controls World Stage – which was converted to the Sound Waves Stage, a DJ-focused venue, last year after the sponsor pulled out – has been transformed into the Aurora Pavilion.

toward the stage
Looking toward the stage.

The stage will make its public debut during Festa Italiana, which returns to the Summerfest grounds this weekend.

Architects Eppstein Uhen Architects have created a new wider entrance to boost capacity, a new permanent video screen, improved accessibility for guests with limited mobility, improved access in and around the stage, and improved hospitality and artist production capabilities.

The floor space under the roof, which previously had some seating, is now wide open.

To the right of the stage is an elevated hospitality area.

The new hospitality area.

We didn't get to see the renovated backstage area where work is not yet complete, according to a Summerfest staffer.

"One of the goals was to open up the space and increase the overall … make it more welcoming, more inclusive space," said Milwaukee World Festival President and CEO Sarah Pancheri at Wednesday's unveiling of the update.

When the pavilion opened about 20 years ago, it was sponsored by Potawatomi Casino Hotel.

In addition to performances by local and national artists in a variety of genres during Summerfest the Aurora Pavilion is expected to host community events like health screenings, too.

In the evenings during the Big Gig, the stage will continue its Sound Waves focus on DJs and dance music.

Find a complete Summerfest schedule online here.

As part of Aurora's sponsorship agreement, the company will continue to be the exclusive health care partner of Summerfest, and will remain the sponsor of amenities like First Aid, the Nursing Mother’s Suite, Lost Children’s Area, as well as ID wristbands, healthy menu, sunscreen and hand sanitizer stations.

Aurora Health Care will also remain as sponsor of the free Rock On To Wellness morning workout event at Henry Maier Festival Park and Summerfest's Latin Music Day.

from the stage
The view from the stage.

This year's event takes place June 15. It includes a full-body workout with Orangetheory Fitness, yoga, meditation, free food and beverage samples, music by DJ Shawna.

All attendees get a free Summerfest ticket, sweat towel and resistance band. The first 100 to register and attend also get a free water bottle. Register for the free event here.

On July 7, Aurora will partner with Northwestern Mutual on a family wellness event as part of the Family Fun Days series on the Summerfest grounds.

In addition a new event was announced Wednesday.

On Sept. 8, former Packers star Donald Driver will take part in a free wellness event from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.


There will be fitness activities, cooking demos, panel discussions and vendors and partners such including rec programs, gyms, healthy food brands and others.

"We know that music can be an essential part of healing and is linked to both physical and mental well-being," said Gabrielle Finley-Hazle, President, Aurora Health Care, and board member, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.

"That’s why we’re excited to share information about the expanded programming that will occur through our partnership, and our hope is that the Aurora Pavilion will be another vibrant place where our community can come together, connect, recharge and enjoy all that Milwaukee and Summerfest have to offer."

Aurora Health Care, who has been the Exclusive Health Care partner of Summerfest since 2017.

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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.