kids encyclopedia robot

State Street Halloween Party facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
State Street Halloween Party
Halloween on State Street.JPG
State Street Halloween Party, Madison, WI
Date(s) Varies by year
Begins 7:00 pm
Ends 1:30 am
Frequency Annual
Location(s) State St. Madison, WI
Inaugurated 1979
Participants varies

The State Street Halloween Party, renamed Freakfest in 2006, is an annual city-sponsored Halloween festival in Madison, Wisconsin.

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.

Freakfest today

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

Year Attendance Arrests
2001 60,000 to 120,000 0
2002 65,000
2003 65,000 Fri; 40,000 Sat 350 (180 Fri, 170 Sat)
2004 80,000
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)
2008 38,000 77
2009 44,000 47
2010 35,000 43
2011 25,000 30
2012 35,000 36
2013 31,000 28
2014 35,000 46
2015 37,000 9
2016 32,000 13
2017 19,000 11
2018 20,000 12
2019 20,000 2
2020 Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic 0

*2012-2016 data is tickets sold.

kids search engine
State Street Halloween Party Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.