Saturday’s Freakfest was a success from a safety and security standpoint, but this year’s paid attendance was one of the lowest in recent years.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the event had approximately 25,000 paid attendees. An additional estimated 5,000-10,000 people obtained complimentary admission or arrived before 7 p.m, making total attendance close to last year’s. Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said the complimentary admission numbers include partygoers who snuck onto State Street.
Last year, approximately 35,000 people attended the Halloween celebration. In 2009, the event brought around 44,000 party-goers.
Verveer said although Freakfest is relatively popular among students, he would like to see its popularity increase.
“Saturday’s Freakfest was the quietest I’ve seen the festival since the late 1990s,” Verveer said. “I would really like to encourage a dialogue to make Freakfest more popular for students. Would students find Freakfest more popular if there was a higher caliber artists in exchange for higher ticket process?”
Initial reports from the Madison Police Department said there were 30 citations during the event, down from 43 arrests and citations in 2010 and 52 arrests and citations in 2009.
According to an MPD incident report, only one person this year was taken to jail.
MPD is expected to release more details on individual incidents today.
Madison Police Sgt. Linda Covert said the event was relatively low in crime.
“Overall it was a successful night because there were no significant events reported as of 2 a.m.,” she said.
During the night, MPD Cpt. Richard Bach said the event was going well.
“Things are going fine so far,” Bach said. “We expect something similar to last year’s orderly crowd.”
Police were brought in from throughout the county to ensure the event was safe. In total, there were six different police departments.
Resnick said Freakfest was an overall fun and safe event for those in attendance.
“I thought it was a very positive atmosphere, as positive as it could be after a disappointing loss with Ohio State,” he said. “Frank Productions and the Madison Police Department had the number of units needed out there.”
This year’s Freakfest featured a number of artists including headliners All Time Low and Neon Trees. The performances were largely well-received.
“Neon Trees were dressed in full costume and seemed like they were just another crazy drunk student on State Street,” University of Wisconsin sophomore Ben Gordon said. “Gotta love Madison.”
Several of the lesser-known groups also garnered excitement in the early hours of the festival. Quiet Corral of Lawrence, Kan., was a fan favorite.
“[They have a] cool mix of styles and instrumentation — hopefully they get bigger,” UW student Neal Behrendt said.
Much of the excitement throughout the night surrounded the vast array of costumes. Some of the more common costumes included various members of the Packers, Occupy Wall Street protesters and people dressed as “The 1 Percent.”
One of the most popular costumes was that of Travis Miller of Duluth, Minn., who came out on State Street as the shower scene from Karate Kid. He wore a movable shower set that was attached to his shoulders and a bathrobe.
“I have probably had 200-plus photos and an interview with NBC,” Miller said early in the night. “ It’s been pretty popular.”
Charlie Goldstone of Frank Productions, the company that organizes Freakfest, would not comment on the event.