State Street Halloween Party facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsState Street Halloween Party
State Street Halloween Party, Madison, WI
|Date(s)||Varies by year|
|Location(s)||State St. Madison, WI|
Freakfest is a gathering place for tens of thousands of party-goers, many dressed in costume. Many attendees are students from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and their guests, but many others come from across Wisconsin and even the rest of the country. Before the city began charging admission, the festival saw crowds of up to 100,000 and a plethora of riotous behavior; but in recent years the crowds have been a fraction that size and have remained largely peaceful.
In 1977, a group of UW Madison students started a block party on Halloween night. As it would come to be known, the State Street Halloween Party consisted of thousands of costumed partygoers packing the streets and consuming alcohol. The student government began to sponsor the event as a fundraiser in 1979. However, when the legal drinking age changed 1986, the fundraising ceased as their primary money-making source was gone and leading to the eventual end of student government's sponsorship. From 1989 until the late 1990s, crowd size varied.
By the 2000s, the event's size grew significantly and largely culminated in rioting resulting in vandalism, theft, property damage, arson, and assault; resulting in hundreds of arrests costing the city of Madison thousands of dollars. By 2003, the event became a point of contention in local government and was costing the city over $700,000. The cost of additional police, the potential of damage to local businesses, and the protection of the city's reputation prompted the concern of Madison leaders, some of whom suggested canceling the event altogether. In 2005, riot police used tear gas to disperse the riotous crowd of 100,000 and over 400 arrests occurred.
In the summer of 2006, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz unveiled the city's plan for the upcoming Halloween events. The plan at its core consisted of blocking off State Street, charging five dollars for admission from select points of entry, and closing off the street at midnight. As a result, the riotous behavior ceased as the event became a largely peaceful city sanctioned festival.
As of 2006, the city government officially calls the party "Freakfest." The festival includes films and live performances by nationally known musical artists and in recent years has been sponsored by Mountain Dew.
Freakfest was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attendance and arrest rates
|2001||60,000 to 120,000||0|
|2003||65,000 Fri; 40,000 Sat||350 (180 Fri, 170 Sat)|
|2005||100,000||334 to 566|
|City government took control of the event|
|2006||32,000||148 to 230|
|2007||34,000||181 (55 Fri, 126 Sat)|
|2020||Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic||0|
*2012-2016 data is tickets sold.
State Street Halloween Party Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.