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A Halloween Madison 2007 and Freakfest on State Street FAQ

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Halloween is one of the best-known events in Madison every year. Starting in the 1970s, crowds of costumed revelers have gathered on State Street, the central axis in the heart of the city that connects the University of Wisconsin to the State Capitol. This event typically occurs on the weekend before October 31, with the largest gatherings on the Saturday night and early Sunday morning of the weekend. Over the years, the size, scope, and safety of these parties has ebbed and flowed, and has become a nationally notorious event.

The size of the parties swelled early in the '00s, reaching into the high tens of thousands. From 2002-05, the revelries ended with property damage and confrontations between partiers and police, large and intense enough that many termed them "riots." Beginning in the early morning hours on the Sunday of the event, they ended with law enforcement utilizing chemical agents to clear State Street of all persons. This resulted in significant budgetary issues for the City of Madison, which spent nearly $600,000 in concert with other law enforcement agencies to police the event. These costs and the public relations issues that damaged its and the city's reputation prompted a change in directions for 2006.

Last year, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and city agencies launched an effort to reverse this state of affairs by creating a structured event on State Street for the Halloween festivities. Working with a student group and a local promoter, the City organized two stages of entertainment dubbed "Freakfest" and instituted a fencing and admissions system for the party, which cost $5 to access. These changes were instituted both to prevent the trouble that had occurred the previous four years, and to re-brand the overall gathering as a structured event that would not tolerate unlawful behavior.

The Madison Halloween party in 2006 was largely successful on these terms, with no major trouble occurring, as police cleared the streets without the confrontations or property damage that were formerly an expected element of the event. The event cost more than ever, however, with revenues from the tickets and reduced police citations offsetting less of the policing costs, which had increased to in excess of $700,000. Due to the relatively peaceful conclusion to the party, the City is continuing this approach to the event.

Freakfest will return in 2007, with a similar fencing and admissions system set for the parties. The entertainment and ticketing, though, are being operated by Frank Productions, a national concert promoter based in Madison that contracted with the City to run this side of the party. With this relationship, the City is seeking to further disassociate itself as any sort of "official" sponsor of the party in order to avoid any liability in the case of trouble.

This year, the city will fence off and charge admission for access to State Street. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 on the day of the event. Freakfest is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 27 and end at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 28. There is a capacity limit of 50,000 people.

These questions and answers are sourced from organizations involved in organizing aspects of Halloween in Madison, or are created in response to specific questions. All items are subject to change. This list of frequently asked questions about Freakfest 2007 on State Street follows.

What is the name of this year's party on State Street?
Freakfest 2007 Brought to you by Mountain Dew
(Frank Productions)

When is this year's Halloween party on State Street?
The party runs from 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 27 through 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 28.
(Frank Productions)

How does the admissions system work?
State Street will be fenced off beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 27. Between the hours of 7:30 p.m. on October 27 and 1:30 a.m. on October 28, anyone wishing to enter the fenced area will need to show a ticket and have their hand stamped. Once your hand is stamped, you may exit the fenced area and then re-enter up until 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 28 by showing your hand stamp to the gate attendants. Access in and out of the event will be available through thirteen gates located from the Capitol Square to Lake Street.
(Source: City of Madison and Frank Productions)

Why are tickets required for the Halloween party on State Street?
For many years, Halloween on State Street was an unsponsored and relatively unstructured event. From 2002-05, this annual "party" has ended with some level of violence and property damage, requiring law enforcement personnel to deploy pepper spray in an effort to quell the disturbance. Additionally, the public cost of the Halloween events rose during this period. In 2005, nearly $600,000 was spent by government agencies that assist in the policing of the event and in 2006, this figure increased to over $750,000. After the disturbances in 2005, the mayor and city staff began considering alternative approaches to address the problematic aspects. The mayor identified three principal goals: (1) improve the safety of the event; (2) recover some portion of the public cost; (3) address the over-consumption of alcohol and the use of illicit drugs.
(Source: City of Madison and

What are the goals of this reorganized event?
Participants share in the cost: This year, participants will share the Ticket burden of the expense by paying $5 for admission to the State Street area on Saturday night. This measure could cover about one third of the costs that would otherwise be paid by taxpayers.

Offer constructive alternatives to alcohol: This year's event will feature music and food offerings, to create alternative, constructive activities for participants. There will be two stages inside the State Street area, and food vendors on Library Mall.

Re-brand the event: The City is working with Frank Productions re-brand Halloween as a safe, positive, festive event.
(Source: City of Madison)

Who will need a ticket for State Street?
Anybody that lives or works on State Street, wishes to patronize State Street businesses, visit friends living on State Street, cross State Street, or attend Freakfest.<

How and where do I get advance tickets for State Street?
$5 advance tickets go on sale this Friday, October 5 at 10:00 AM at the Coliseum box office, Ticketmaster, by phone at (608) 255-4646, online at, or at several businesses in the State Street area. These business ticket outlets will be selling tickets through Friday, October 26 and there is no service charge at any of these locations. Participating businesses are designated with special multicolored posters with the Freakfest logo and the words "Freakfest Tickets Available Here." These outlets include: University Bookstore, Ragstock, B-Side, Knuckleheads, State Street Cash Mart all in the State Street area. Other businesses around Madison that will be selling the tickets include: Mallat's Pharmacy & Strictly Discs on Monroe Street. Tickets purchased online from Ticketmaster will include a service charge of $1.50.
(Source: Frank Productions and

How and where do I get day-of tickets for State Street?
Tickets on the day of the event will be available at booths near the entrances beginning at noon and continuing through the end of the event. These booths will be located at Library Mall, on the 200 block of West Gilman Street near the entrance to the Buckeye Lot, and on the first block of North Carroll Street on Capitol Square.
(Source: Frank Productions)

How many tickets can I buy?
You may purchase up to four tickets.
(Source: City of Madison)

What is the text of the Warning and Disclaimer on tickets for Freakfest on State Street?
The Halloween gathering on State Street is not sponsored by the City of Madison. An admission fee is charged for the purpose of recovering some of the public safety costs generated by the crowds, and for admission to Freakfest 2007 brought to you by Mountain Dew. The City of Madison cannot and does not guarantee the safety of persons or property within the gated area. You enter at your own risk and are responsible for your own actions and safety.

Will call ticket pick-up will be at the main ticket boot located on the 700 block of State Street.
(Source: City of Madison and Frank Productions)

How do I get free tickets if I live on State Street?
Residents of State Street are entitled to complimentary tickets for Freakfest 2007 provided by the City of Madison. The City of Madison Parks Department is mailing tickets to every residential address on State Street, based upon a list of the tickets disbursed for the 2006 event. Those addresses not included on this list will be sent two complimentary tickets.

Those residents not receiving tickets are to contact the Parks Department. Those waiting until after October 19 are required to hand in a form at the Parks office from Monday, October 22 to Wednesday, October 24. Residents waiting until after 4:15 p.m. on this Wednesday before the event will be required to purchase tickets to access their own home.
(City of Madison and

How does ticketing affect me if I work or own a business on State Street?
Owners of business within the fenced area and their employees are entitled to complimentary tickets for Freakfest 2007 provided by the City of Madison. The City of Madison Parks Department is mailing a letter to every business and property owner on State Street, based upon a list of the tickets disbursed for the 2006 event. Those businesses and property owners that do not take any action will be mailed the same number of tickets that they used last year, while those seeking more or less are required to contact the city. Those that didn't get any tickets last year will have a similar process, with a letter and a request for tickets. Wednesday, October 24 is the final date businesses and property owners will be able to acquire complimentary tickets for Freakfest. Those who do not respond by this date will be forced to purchase tickets in order to access their own business, property, or place of work.
(Source: City of Madison and

What are the fences made out of?
The city has indicated that the fences will be double rows of orange highway contruction barrels connected by orange plastic highway mesh netting. This type is the same to that used in 2006. City organizers have indicated that this kind of fencing was selected in order to allow fast and easy removal in the case of an emergency.

When will the fences be put in place?
Elements of the fencing system will initially be put in place on Friday, Oct. 26. Much of the fencing will be in place on the evening of Oct. 26, though there will be no admissions system and access to State Street will remain free and open. On Saturday, Oct. 28, the fencing will be completely put into place by 7:30 p.m., at which point the admissions system will go into effect.

Where are the entrances and exits located?
There are 13 access points to Freakfest on State Street. These are marked in blue and green in the map at top:

  1. The intersection of State and Lake will allow entrances and exits.
  2. The northern intersection of State and Frances (between the Towers and Statesider private dormitories) will be exit only. This is exit only because the city is trying to dissuade persons from entering at this location, traditionally one of the flash points for trouble during the party.
  3. The eastern intersection of State and Gilman will allow entrances and exits.
  4. The northern intersection of State and Broom (adjacent to Gilman) will allow entrances and exits.
  5. The western intersection of State and Gorham will allow entrances and exits.
  6. The eastern intersection of State and Johnson will allow entrances and exits.
  7. The northern intersection of State and Henry will allow entrances and exits.
  8. The intersection of Dayton and State will be exit only. Due to the location of a ticket booth, the city will be directing persons to enter at adjacent intersections.
  9. The intersection of Fairchild and State will be exit only. Due to the location of a ticket booth, the city will be directing persons to enter at adjacent intersections.
  10. The western intersection of State and Mifflin (adjacent to the Veterans Museum on the Square) will be exit only. This is due to the citing of one of the stages at the intersection of State Street and the Capitol Square.
  11. The eastern intersection of State and Mifflin (between the State Historical Society and Miles Teddywedgers) will allow entrances and exits.
  12. The southern intersection of State and Carroll (adjacent to the State Historical Society on the Square) will be entrance only. The city does not give a reason for this designation.
  13. The northern intersection of State and Carroll (between the Children's Museum and the Veterans Museum) will allow entrances and exits.

There are six other intersections with State Street that will be closed to access. These are marked in red in the map at top:

  1. The intersection of State and Hawthorne Court (between two Wisconsin Badgers gift shops) will be closed, with no access allowed.
  2. The southern intersection of State and Frances (between State Street Brats and the University Inn) will be closed, with no access allowed.
  3. The western intersection of State and Gilman will be closed, with no access allowed. This is because there will be a police staging area adjacent to this street in the parking lot of the University Inn. However, the fencing will extend down the sidewalk on the north side of the Street in order to access Amy's Café and The Blue Velvet.
  4. The eastern intersection of State and Gorham will be closed, with no access allowed. This is due to the siting of one of the stages at this intersection.
  5. The western intersection of State and Johnson will be closed, with no access allowed. This is also adjacent to a police staging area.
  6. The southern intersection of State and Henry (between the MMoCA and Fontana Spors) will be closed, with no access allowed. This is the planned location for buses in which arrested persons will be detained.

The city is also encouraging property owners to close alleys and lock back doors to prevent access between State Street and adjacent roads.

What is the best way to get into downtown Madison for Freakfest?
The City of Madison recommends visitors to enter downtown via the Beltline, exiting on John Nolen Drive (exit 263). Taxis and buses are also recommended as traffic will be heavy with many blocks adjacent to State Street will be closed to vehicles.

Beginning at 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 27, the Metro bus routes 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 13 will be detouring from the downtown area until the end of the service day. Delays should be expected during this time. The free routes 81 and 82 will also detour due to the event. More information about the city's bus system is available from Metro Transit.
(Source: City of Madison)

Where can I park?
As we get closer to the event, much of the on-street parking around and near State Street will be unavailable. This includes many streets adjacent to and intersecting State Street.

No parking zones include blocks of North Lake Street, West Gilman Street, North Broom Street, West Gorham Street, West Johnson Street, North Henry Street, West Mifflin Street, North Carroll Street and Wisconsin Avenue. The city encourages people to use the public parking ramps.

There are six public ramps primarily servicing the State Street district and open to the public on Oct. 28. They are:

  • State Street Campus Lot: There are two entrances, at 415 N. Lake Street at 430 N. Frances St. and 415 N. Lake St. The lot is bordered by Lake, State, Frances streets and University Avenue.
  • Overture Center Ramp: There are two entrances to this lot, at 318 W. Mifflin St. and 300 W. Dayton St. The ramp is bordered by Mifflin, Henry, Dayton and Broom streets.
  • State Street Capitol Ramp: Two entrances to this ramp are located at 214 N. Carroll St. The ramp is bordered by State, Johnson, Carroll and Dayton streets.
  • Brayton Lot: This is a surface parking lot located between East Washington Avenue and Butler, Main, and Franklin streets.
  • Government East: There is one entrance at 215 S. Pinckney Street. The lot is bordered by Doty, Pinckey, Wilson, and King streets.
  • Capitol Square North: There is one entrance located at 218 East Mifflin Street. The lot is bordered by Webster, Mifflin, Butler, and Hamilton streets.

Another parking lot -- the Buckeye Lot located at 214 W. Gorham St. and bordered by Gilman, Gorham and State streets -- will not be open to the public. A portion of the Gorham street stage will be operated from the east side of this parking lot. Parking on the UW-Madison campus will also be limited.

More information about parking is available from the City of Madison Parking Utility.
(Source: City of Madison, UW-Madison and

Where can I catch a taxi?
The city has established three taxi stands around the State Street district. The will be located at:

  • On Langdon Street bewtween North Park Street and North Lake Street. This is in front of the UW Memorial Union.
  • On North Frances Street between University Avenue and West Johnson Street. This is adjacent to Ian's Pizza and Dotty Dumpling's Dowry.
  • On East Johnson Street between North Carroll Street and Wisconsin Avenue. This is adjacent to the MATC Downtown campus.

Do I need a ticket if I am on State Street before 7:30 p.m.?
No, you do not need a ticket if you enter State Street before 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28. If you leave the fenced area after 7:30 p.m., however, you will not be able to return without purchasing a ticket.

What if I leave State Street and want to return?
When you enter the fenced area on State Street, tickets will be exchanged for admission, and persons wishing to return and leave will receive a hand stamp. This hand stamp cannot be used for reentry after 1:30 a.m., or if State Street reaches its capacity limit.

What is the purpose of the hand stamps?
The purpose of the hand stamps is to facilitate exits and re-entry to the gated portions of State Street for persons who have already purchased tickets. The City has not publicly addressed the issues of duplicated stamps, whether or not these stamps can wear off, or the likelihood that many persons will be wearing gloves or mittens due to costumes and the expected cold temperatures on the last weekend in October.

What is the role of the private security?
Frank Productions has contracted RTM Security Services of Milwaukee to provide private security for Freakfest 2007. The City and Frank Productions has indicated that the role of the private security staff is limited to facilitating admissions to State Street. They will be taking tickets and giving hand stamps as part of these duties. The city and law enforcement have not given clear responses to direct questions about the ability of private security to conduct pat-downs or searches.

What is the glass-free zone?
The City has established a zone encompassing State Street and several adjacent blocks in which all glass containers are prohibited. This ban will be in effect between 9:30 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. on Oct. 26-28. These area included in the zone include the entire fenced area on State Street as well as several adjacent blocks on Langdon Street and University Avenue adjacent to the event.

Who are the sponsors of Freakfest 2007?
The title sponsors of this year's Halloween party on State Street are Mountain Dew (courtesy of the Pepsi Cola bottling company in Dane County), the Madison-based sandwich company Milio's, as well as multiple media sponsors including Isthmus and several radio stations including WIBA 101.5 FM and Z104.. This is the first year of having corporate sponsors at Freakfest. Their support helps to underwrite some of the costs and helps to insure that this Madison tradition continues.
(Source: Frank Productions and

What is the entertainment at Freakfest 2007?
The entertainment stages will be located near the Capitol Square and near the intersection of Gorham Street and State Street. There will be a variety of entertainment on three stages.

The bands were recruited by Frank Productions. They are:

  • Lifehouse
  • Ky-Mani Marley
  • Matt Wertz with Dave Barnes & Gabe Dixon
  • Locksley
  • The Mighty Short Bus
  • Rob Dz
  • The Midway State
  • Mike Droho
  • The Gomers
(Source: Frank Productions)

Where are the stages located?
There are three stages and one tent:

  • The Mountain Dew Stage is located at the top of State Street off Capitol Square.
  • The Milio's/The Onion Stage is located at the Buckeye Lot on Gorham Street next to Pizzeria Uno.
  • The Isthmus Stage is located in Peace Park
  • There is also the Amp Energy Drinking sampling tent, which will be located in Concrete Park at the north intersection of State and Frances Streets, between The Towers and The Stateside private dormitories.
(Source: Frank Productions)

What is the Battle of the Bands for Freakfest 2007?
The UW ASM will be sponsoring a Battle of the Bands with the winning band performing live at Freakfest on the Peace Park stage. Local bands with original material are invited to submit press kits with music samples to the ASM office on the 5th floor of the UW Union. The ASM committee will be choosing semi-finalists to perform at a Battle Royale on Wednesday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the newly reopened Majestic Theatre on King Street in Madison. Friends and fans are welcome to attend the battle. Tickets will be available at the door for $3 each. The winning band will be announced that night and featured on the Peace Park stage at Freakfest.
(Frank Productions)

Where are the bands playing?
Mountain Dew Stage

  • Lifehouse
  • Matt Wertz with Dave Barnes & Gabe Dixon
  • The Mighty Short Bus
  • The Midway State

Milio's/The Onion Stage

  • Ky-Mani Marley
  • Locksley
  • Rob Dz
  • Mike Droho

Isthmus Stage

  • Freakfest costume contest
  • Gomeroke
  • Battle of the Bands winner
(Source: Frank Productions)

Where is the Freakfest food court going to be set up?
Food vendors will be available on the 700 block of State Street (Library Mall) on the day of the event.

Where will the public restrooms be located?
There will be multiple portable outdoor restrooms at three locations at Freakfest. One row will be near the intersection of Lake and Langdon streets, another set will be located on Gilman Street adjacent to Peace Park, and the final group will be on North Carroll Street adjacent to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.
(Source: Frank Productions)

Will State Street bars remain open?
Yes, Halloween weekend is a large generator of revenue for taverns and restaurants on State Street and elsewhere in central Madison. Tavern owners that they will be strictly enforcing access by requiring patrons to remove any part of their costume that obscures their face as depicted in their legal identification. Additionally, the Madison Police Department has indicated that if you do not have a Wisconsin ID, you will have to present two forms of ID in order to drink in State Street bars (regardless of your age). What constitutes a valid second form of ID is unclear.

When and how will Freakfest on State Street end?
The City has indicated that the party will end at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28. Police and private security will ask people to "gradually move from the roadway to the sidewalks" and that "police and private security will begin to use the fencing to facilitate people's egress." As was the case in 2006, each block of State Street will be separated and revelers will be requested to exit at either end of the block they are in upon its closure. Whether or not any assembly that remains following that point is declared unlawful, or if force is used to clear the streets, remains to be seen.

How do police plan to close Freakfest?
There is nothing different this year compared to previous years in terms of state police strategies for ending the party and clearing State Street. MPD command officers have indicated that they will apply their standard escalation of force when policing the crowd and any illegal behaviors.

The trouble between revelers and police from 2002-05 typically reached their height shortly after bar time, typically in the period between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. At this point, law enforcement declared the event an illegal assembly and subsequently cleared State Street in protective gear and with pepper spray and/or tear gas. Should large groups of revelers refuse to vacate State Street after the city begins to clear the roads after 1:30 a.m., law enforcement have indicated that they will execute similar tactics and escalation of force as applied in previous years.

How has the City prepared for the possibility of displacing the problem?
The re-branding of Halloween plays a significant role in addressing the concern of displacement. It is expected that people will continue to make State Street the "place to be" on Halloween, especially given the efforts to make the area both safer and more inviting.

Everyday, public safety personnel are prepared to address problems throughout the City of Madison. On Halloween, additional law enforcement resources will be dedicated to the downtown area, enabling a timely response to events requiring police assistance both inside and outside the event area. This will consist of rapid-response police teams that will be focusing upon house parties, traffic incidents, and large public gatherings in neighborhoods surrounding the State Street district.
(Source: City of Madison and

What are some safety tips for Halloween?

  1. If you plan to go out, go out with other people that you know and trust. Stay in a group and return home with the same people you went out with. Walk in well lit areas. Check in with each other throughout the night. Designate a meeting time and place in case you should get separated amid the crowds.
  2. Realize that alcohol influences decision making and judgment. Discuss what your limits are and then how to honor those decisions about the amount and type of alcohol you consume.
  3. If you accept a beverage from someone, make sure that you know them, you've observed the drink being prepared and that you never leave it unattended. Exercise caution in any public setting with any beverage.
  4. Don't wear a costume that inhibits or restricts your ability to see or run. Some people may take advantage of being unrecognizable in a Halloween costume. Make sure that you are in an environment where you can easily get help or get away from someone who is threatening your safety in any way.
  5. Dress for the weather, regardless of your costume.
  6. Keep in mind, no weapons, or realistic facsimiles of weapons, will be allowed by Madison Police as part of costumes.
  7. Remember, no glass will be allowed on State Street. The throwing of any object will result in police attention.
  8. The University Residence Halls have a no guest policy. If you reside in the halls, let your friends know if they come to visit they need to make plans to stay somewhere besides University Housing.
  9. Do not allow people into your residence hall that you do not know. Individuals who belong here have a key. Letting in people you do not know puts the entire community at risk.
  10. Lock your door even while sleeping or elsewhere on your floor or in the hall. Always carry your key when you leave your room.
  11. Always carry photo identification and make sure your friends carry identification and phone numbers with them in case they become incapacitated for any reason.
  12. Don't drink and drive. There are a variety of transportation services, including the campus bus (Safe Bus), the SafeWalk/SafeRide at 262-5000 and the local taxi services.
  13. Police will be stationed throughout State Street. If you observe suspicious or criminal behavior or need immediate assistance, find an officer or call 9-1-1. 9-1-1 calls from any pay phone are free.
  14. Honor everyone's right to live and feel safe in the Madison community, including fellow students, campus neighbors and downtown business owners. Look out for your friends and fellow students. If someone is in trouble, reach out and help them.
(Source: UW-Madison)

What does the UW administration expect of students in terms of behavior?
UW-Madison Dean of Students Lori M. Berquam offers this message with regards to Hallowen 2007:

As you may know, the city of Madison has gone to great lengths to prepare for a safe and enjoyable Freakfest celebration on Saturday, Oct. 27.

If you're a continuing student, you know the drill. But if you are a new student, here are some thoughts to remember as you celebrate and have fun.

If you plan to attend, I encourage you to go out in a group, cooperate with law enforcement and security personnel, and place limits on your alcohol consumption. If you are intoxicated, you place yourself at a much greater risk for injury, unwanted sexual contact or a citation from police.

No glass will be allowed on State Street and throwing an object of any kind will result in your arrest. Please leave when police signal that the event has ended. Keep in mind that nonresidents will not be allowed in University Housing residence halls on Oct. 26-27.

You're free to dress as you choose, but I believe that racist, crude and culturally insensitive and/or offensive costumes speak volumes about the people wearing them.

Finally, remember that the anonymity you may feel from wearing a mask or costume does not negate your rights or responsibilities as a Madison resident or a UW-Madison student.

Students found to be responsible for engaging in criminal behavior that impacts other members of the university community -- on or off campus -- can face sanctions up to and including suspension or expulsion. Information about criminal behavior by students from other colleges or universities will be forwarded back to their own campus student affairs staffs for possible adjudication.
(Source: UW-Madison)

What UW athletics events will be held in Madison on Halloween weekend?
There will be numerous Badger athletic events taking place on campus, including the homecoming football game against Indiana at Camp Randall and a women's hockey game against Minnesota State at the Kohl Center.
(Source: UW Athletic Department)


These questions and answers have been compiled from various sources including the City of Madison, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Frank Productions; they are responsible for their statements and policies. There will be ongoing updates of this Halloween in Madison FAQ. If you have any suggestions for additions or changes, please send an email. All items are subject to change.

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