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Sunday, December 28, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 19.0° F  Fair
The Daily
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Do the Dew at Freakfest?
Madison Halloween revelry now has official non-alcoholic sponsor

As expected, Mountain Dew, the high-caffeine soda that's aggressively marketed to a youthful demographic of gamers and extreme sports fans, has been named the official sponsor for the Halloween party on State Street this autumn.

Frank Productions announced Thursday afternoon that the revelry will be called: "Freakfest 2007 brought to you by Mountain Dew."

That's scary.

Last year, the city of Madison actively planned and tried to manage the yearly Halloween madness following four consecutive years of early morning disturbances that ended with property damage and numerous arrests.

Renaming it "Freakfest," city created an admissions and ticketing system and collaborated with UW students to explicitly rebrand the booze-fueled mayhem as a well-organized Halloween festival. Due to liability concerns, though, the city did not want to remain as the promoter and subsequently partnered with long-time Madison concert promoter Frank Productions for this year's revelry.

The company is taking over the lion's share of the infrastructure for Freakfest, leaving the city responsible for policing, traffic, and other safety issues. With private management, now, comes private sponsorship.

Pepsi Cola of Madison leads the way. The prominent sponsor of such signature Madison events as Rhythm & Booms and the Dane County Fair has signed on to something considerably less sedate. The city's anti-alcohol rebranding efforts get a boost, meanwhile, with a soda that has twice released Halloween season special editions ("Pitch Black" and "Pitch Black II") taking the most prominent spot on what are sure to be plenty of commercial banners up and down State Street.

Frank Productions says that additional information about stage locations, entrances, and entertainment will be released shortly.

Much of this information is already public, though. The main stage will again be located at the top of State Street, with a local music stage slated for Peace Park and a sponsor tent planned for Concrete Park at the campus end of the party, while entrances and exits are set to be similar as last year's.

Additionally, appearing before the Madison Board of Estimates on Aug. 27, Frank Productions president Fred Frank said that a costume contest and battle of the bands are among their plans for the stage at Peace Park. The committee recommended approval of the city's contract with the promoter, with the Common Council passing it without comment during its marathon meeting on Tuesday night.

"We're still working out some things," says Frank's David Maynard, "but one thing we'd like to do is have a costume contest. We'd like to bring back a participatory element to the event."

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