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See Summerfest's new north gate and community plaza: Slideshow

With just 13 days remaining before the start of the 51st edition of Summerfest, festival leaders and community supporters gathered Thursday to debut the brand new north gate.

The gate was the latest development in Milwaukee World Festival Inc.'s burgeoning partnership with Madison-based American Family Insurance. The project also includes a community plaza and the Let the Music Play grant program funded by American Family, which will support six local nonprofits that work to boost student participation in music with $2,500 grants.

Thursday's ceremony featured remarks from Milwaukee World Festival president and CEO Don Smiley, American Family Insurance chairman and CEO Jack Salzwedel, as well as Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Common Council president Ashanti Hamilton. Madison's Black Star Drum Line kicked off the festivities, as a representation of the interactive percussion displays in the community plaza.

"The official ribbon cutting ceremony today represents a culmination of years of hard work and planning with various city, county, and park departments and we are thrilled to provide a beautiful new entry on the north end of Henry Maier Festival Park,” Smiley said Thursday. “We are happy to introduce the new American Family Insurance North Gate and Community Plaza to festival fans and Milwaukee area residents who can enjoy this area year-round.”

The new gate, which prominently features the words "American Family Insurance," is just an appetizer for the Madison company's contribution for the 2019 festival, when it will power the complete rebuild of Summerfest's main stage, the American Family Insurance Amphitheater. Salzwedel expressed excitement about the new grant program.

"Our sponsorship of Summerfest has solidified our belief that investing in community events and projects is important to us, our customers and to the health of our communities,” Salzwedel said. “Now with today’s announcement of the Let the Music Play program, we're proud to give our support to music programs in Milwaukee County schools and the students who participate in them, by giving them the opportunity to showcase their talents publicly at Summerfest and other venues.”

The new gate was designed by Eppstein Uhen Architects, with Pierce Engineering conducting the structural engineering, and C.G. Schmidt performing construction management services.

Patrick Leary
Milwaukee Business Journal

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