With the much-anticipated Freakfest Saturday night, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz met with Frank Productions and Police Chief Noble Wray Thursday to clarify final plans at a news conference. Dave Maynard of Frank Productions explained the goals for this year’s Halloween: to reduce some of the immense costs — a burden for both the city and taxpayers — and to find a way to make it a community-based event of which the whole city can be proud. “Finally, our goal is to entertain,” Maynard said. Entertainment will be provided on three stages on State Street, two of which will have live DJs. The Mountain Dew stage will play popular music, while The Onion and Milio’s stage will play more progressive music such as indie, reggae and hip-hop, Maynard said. The new Isthmus stage will be featuring Associated Students of Madison’s Battle of the Band’s winner Raw Fury, as well as the Gomers and the Parade of Freaks costume contest. The main headliner for the event is Lifehouse, who will perform for about an hour, starting around 12:20 a.m. All music starts at 7:30 p.m. and will end by 1:30 a.m. Mountain Dew and Milio’s are two of the main sponsors of the event and will each have stands selling food located on State Street in addition to other vendors. “The fact that sponsors are willing to put their name to this event is incredibly important and shows the progress that we’ve made just over the past couple of years,” Cieslewicz said. Tickets have been selling very well, Maynard said, with 7,500 tickets already sold at a rate of 1,500 to 2,000 tickets per day, which is on par with the number sold last year. “We will be opening a booth at Library Mall from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., (Friday) as a last chance to buy tickets for only five dollars,” Maynard said. “Tickets will be available Saturday at the Library Mall location at 10 a.m., as well as three additional ticket locations starting at 2 p.m. at Henry and Gilman, West Washington and Carroll, and Gorham and Broom Street.” Maynard said online ticket sales are also doing well. Although there was a general concern regarding nonresidents having access to tickets, Maynard said he was pleasantly surprised that research disproved any potential issues. Gates will open Saturday at 7:30 p.m. However, State Street will be open before then, so the thousands of Badger fans returning from the homecoming game will be able to shop and roam State Street for free, according to Wray. Maynard agreed and said the additional foot traffic will benefit the event. “My feeling is that [homecoming] is a gift,” Maynard said. “We have all these people coming to town that have connections to the city. These people are more likely to enjoy the city and set an example for those around.” In regard to safety, there will be more than 300 police officers patrolling State Street and the surrounding area Friday and Saturday night, according to Wray. “We’ve got mobile units that will be working the house parties,” Wray said. “The central district has been working with people around Langdon and that area, so we’re not anticipating problems.” Some important security factors that have worked well in the past, Wray said, are the fencing, the ability of the police officers to engage with the crowd, the University of Wisconsin Housing’s “no-guests” policy, the positive impact of the students and the overall positive atmosphere of the community. “People won’t be thinking of this as a black eye of the city,” Cieslewicz said. “Instead, it will be something they look forward to and are proud of.” During the event, security personnel will be searching people at the gate, looking for weapons, flasks, firecrackers and other prohibited objects. If found, these items will be confiscated, even if they are part of a costume. Also, people who are given citations will be taken offsite and processed at a different location, Wray said. Depending on the citation, they will either be allowed to return or will be kept in detention for the night. Cieslewicz said he’ll be on hand to assess the festivities Saturday night. “I’ll be there with the chief as I always am, walking the streets,” Cieslewicz said. “I’m looking forward to another successful year and to make this event more successful every year.” Correction: Due to a reporting error, this article and the October 29 article “Attendance up 2,000 people” should have cited Ra Fury, not Raw Fury. We regret the errors.
KATE BRENNER/Herald photo