"Freakfest 2007," the informal name for the Halloween party on State Street this fall, was the first item on the city's Street Use Staff Team meeting Wednesday morning.
As in 2006, the party will be fenced and gated along the length of State Street and access permitted only with a ticket -- this being the city's response to the early-morning disturbances of the previous four years. Unlike last year, though, the event organizer is not the city, but Frank Productions, a national concert promoter based in Madison.
Frank has requested a street use permit effective from 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 27, through 4 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 29. The event perimeter would be similar to last year's: The 100 through 600 blocks of State Street fenced off with ticketed access permitted at more than a dozen locations. Advance tickets would cost $5, though the day-of-event ticket price would increase to $7.
"I think this is exactly the direction we were hoping the Halloween event would go," said mayoral aide Joel Plant, who is the city's former alcohol policy coordinator and a lead organizer for the event in 2006. "Based on the success of [last year's] plan, we hoped there would be more interest from local promoters to get behind it. Now with Frank Productions taking charge of the music, fundraising, and the great majority of the ticketing, it's permitting the city to focus on its job: public health, welfare, and safety." He remains involved this year, though, coordinating between Frank and city agencies.
Much different from last year is the ongoing planning for entertainment. While there were only two stages in 2006, Frank Productions has applied to erect three. The main stage will be at the top of State Street with the Capitol as a backdrop, and a second stage will be located in the Buckeye Lot facing the intersection of State and Gorham, as was the case last year. The new stage would be located in the grassy area at Peace Park facing Gilman Street. Frank is not ready to release the names of any acts they are negotiating with to perform at the party, though.
Frank Productions also has ambitious plans for sponsorships this year. The production company is negotiating with Pepsi/Mountain Dew to be the major sponsor. While Frank's permit application identifies the event as "Mountain Dew Freakfest 2007," company president Fred Frank says a deal is not yet finalized.
They plan to have a quartet of sponsorship tents along the length of the street. Three of these would sell Pepsi products (soda and water, but no alcohol), and the fourth would offer free corporate samples and other promotional items. This larger tent would be at Concrete Park, the pedestrian space at the intersection of State and Frances streets directly across from the University Inn.
"I know that that there have been some concerns about that location, and we've reached a consensus with police and fire," said Charlie Goldstone, the Frank Productions representative at the meeting. In fact, much of the committee discussion focused on Concrete Park and the plans for the main sponsor tent, one element being the impending renovation of the 500 and 600 blocks of State Street next summer.
Frank Productions is continuing to meet with the city about plans for the ticketing system and a traffic plan. The city will staff the entrances and exits and police the street, but the promoter will be handling the actual ticketing. Frank is also acquiring insurance for the event. While a $1 million policy is required, Frank is looking to get a $3 million policy to cover all contingencies.
Ultimately, the Street Use Staff Team decided that approval of the Frank application would be contingent upon the insurance policy, a detailed map for the event, and the implementation of plans listed in the addendums to the street use application. The full details of these are available in the related downloads at top right.
Around 35,000 revelers attended the 2006 party based on ticket sales. "Last year was an experiment for the city, and we expect that number to go up this year," said Goldstone "From here we will move forward with securing talent for the event."