11:30 AM

American Family Insurance and Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. begin new 10-year partnership

Components include a presenting sponsorship of Summerfest, construction of a new 23,000-seat Amphitheater, new North Gate and Plaza and community programming


Milwaukee World Festival, Inc./Summerfest and American Family Insurance announced a new partnership today.

Jack Salzwedel, Chairman, CEO and President
“This partnership with Summerfest not only allows us to raise awareness and effectively market our brand to a large and enthusiastic audience, but gives us the opportunity to support a popular and enduring community event our customers from Wisconsin, and all parts of the country, look forward to each year.”
Jack Salzwedel, Chairman, CEO and President

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. officials are excited to announce a new, comprehensive sponsorship with American Family Insurance that will strategically align both brands into the next decade through a naming rights partnership. With this agreement, American Family Insurance will become the first presenting sponsor of Summerfest in the history of Summerfest. Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. is especially proud to announce this historic partnership with a leading Wisconsin-based company as we celebrate the 50th Summerfest in 2017.

Specifically, the components of the sponsorship, which takes effect immediately, include:

  • Presenting status of Summerfest. The festival will now be known as Summerfest presented by American Family Insurance.  The financial resources associated with the American Family Insurance sponsorship commitment will allow Summerfest to maintain its mission, which remains true today after a half century: a tradition of a world-class line-up at affordable prices for the entire community.
  • Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. will build a new 23,000-seat Amphitheater at Henry Maier Festival Park, which will be known as the American Family Insurance Amphitheater. Amenities in the new complex will include enhanced production space, increased new restaurant options, additional new restroom facilities and new hospitality areas. Construction is tentatively scheduled for 2019 – 2020.
  • Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. will construct a new North Gate, box office and community plaza, linking Henry Maier Festival Park to downtown Milwaukee and the development associated with the Lakefront Gateway Project. Construction is scheduled for 2017, with the gate completion anticipated for Summerfest 2018.
  • Creation of new music education activities which will provide access for Milwaukee students. Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. and American Family Insurance will also participate in community outreach in specific Milwaukee neighborhoods.

“In 2017, American Family will celebrate its 90th anniversary and Summerfest its 50th, so we’re thrilled to announce this partnership during such a historic year for both our organizations,” said American Family Insurance Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Jack Salzwedel. “This partnership with Summerfest not only allows us to raise awareness and effectively market our brand to a large and enthusiastic audience, but gives us the opportunity to support a popular and enduring community event our customers from Wisconsin, and all parts of the country, look forward to each year.”

Regarding the sponsorship, Don Smiley, president and chief executive officer of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. stated, “This is a transformational partnership for Summerfest and Henry Maier Festival Park. American Family Insurance’s commitment will ensure that our festival continues the legacy of hosting the world’s most renowned entertainers. We could not be more excited to join with American Family Insurance and, together, step boldly into the future.”American Family Insurance’s commitment is perfectly timed given Summerfest is preparing for its 50th edition of the festival in 2017. “As a festival we rely on major corporate support to remain an affordable community celebration, American Family Insurance’s leadership provides the essential financial support for Summerfest to move into the next 50 years,” Smiley said.

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. chairman Ted Kellner stated, “I have been an active member of the board for 36 of the festival’s 50 years, having served as chairman for nine years. With that perspective, I can say with certainty that the civic mission of Summerfest is preserved through this new partnership. We are exceptionally excited for the future of the festival, the Amphitheater, Henry Maier Festival Park and the Milwaukee community.”

Stephen H. Marcus stepped forward in the 1980s to provide critical funding to build the Marcus Amphitheater. The facility has served Summerfest for 29 years and has hosted some of the world’s biggest names in music, including Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Bruno Mars, Cher, Britney Spears and Kenny Chesney. Millions of fans have enjoyed concerts at the facility and the building is an important component in the festival’s overall contribution of $187 million annually to the Milwaukee regional economy.

“As an organization, we have tremendous gratitude for the Marcus Family’s civic leadership and commitment to Summerfest, Henry Maier Festival Park and Milwaukee. Steve’s willingness to support us 30 years ago forever changed the course of the festival, allowing Summerfest to become The World’s Largest Music Festival,” said Kellner.

Kellner is a member of American Family’s board of directors but had no involvement in contract talks between the two parties. While financial details of the partnership are not being disclosed, Smiley described the contract as “fair and beneficial to both Summerfest and American Family Insurance.”

In addition to the conceptual ideas presented today, more renderings and additional details surrounding the sponsorship and project timelines will be revealed at a later date. All capital projects are subject to the approval of the Board of Harbor Commissioners.

About American Family Insurance
Madison, Wis. - based American Family Insurance, celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2017, is the nation's 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group and ranks No. 332 on the Fortune 500 list. American Family Insurance is the largest insurer of homes and private passenger vehicles in the state of Wisconsin. The company sells American Family-brand products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, through its exclusive agents in 19 states. American Family affiliates (The General, Homesite and AssureStart) also provide options for consumers who want to manage their insurance matters directly over the Internet or by phone. Web; Facebook; Twitter; Google+

About Summerfest
Summerfest 2017 – the festival’s 50th edition – will take place June 28 – July 2 and July 4 – July 9 from noon until midnight and will be closed Monday, July 3. Following its 1968 debut, Summerfest has evolved into what is now recognized as “The World’s Largest Music Festival” and Milwaukee’s cornerstone summer celebration, hosting he music industry’s hottest stars, emerging talent and local favorites along with approximately 850,000 people from Milwaukee and around the world each year for an unforgettable live music experience. During the festival, the spotlight shines on over 800 acts, over 1,000 performances, 11 stages, delectable food and beverages and interactive activities, all in a world-class festival setting. For more details, visit, or Twitter: @Summerfest.