The annual Tosafest celebration is happening this weekend and attendees can expect the usual music, food and family-oriented activities on top of changes to security practices at a temporary new venue.
To accommodate the ongoing streetscape redevelopment project happening in the Village of Wauwatosa, the festival is moving from State Street to the parking lots across the Menomonee River on Harwood Avenue.
Throughout its 41-year history, the event has had two main goals: contributing proceeds to various community organization and focusing on the promotion of the Village, said organizer John Raisler, who has planned the event for the last 25 years alongside his wife, Ann, and a long list of volunteers.
"It’s a nice family event, we are really praying for good weather," Raisler said. "It’s good food, good music."
The two-day event, which runs from 6 to 11:30 p.m. Sept. 9 and 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sept. 10, features a long list of musical artists on its three stages; Altered 5 Blues Band, Groove Therapy, 5 Card Studs and S.S. Web are a few of the names to make the list. A full rundown can be found online at tosafest.org.
The event also promises at least 30 food vendors, Raisler said.
"Tosafest is the second-largest event held in the city after the Fourth of July Parade," said Mayor Kathy Ehley. "l am amazed at the dedicated volunteers that have put on this longest continuous festival in the city. They work year-round to make Tosafest happen and have faced many challenges over the years head on. They have focused on celebrating our historic village and our community spirit."
Alleviating safety concerns
Alleviating concerns about safety is a priority this year, said Raisler, adding the event has "never had any arrests or any incidents." Tosafest organizers have hired a security team to help run the event that's expected to draw between 10,000 and 15,000 people. There will be fences, but primarily along the railroad tracks, serving as boundary markers for the festival and indicating where entry points are, Raisler said.
"We will have some fencing only because we are establishing entry points," Raisler said.
There's an admission fee this year, too. Attendees are asked to make a $2 donation or bring two non-perishable food items to be donated to Tosa Cares, an organization that distributes food and other materials to families in need.
Attendees at Tosa's Night Out on Aug. 3 also had to pay — up to $25 per family — to go. The event relocated from Hart Park to the Milwaukee County Zoo to accommodate the streetscape redevelopment work in the Village.
Raisler said the event will not restrict access to anyone, but will be placing wristbands on all attendees. Children under age 18 do not need to be accompanied by an adult. Juveniles entering the festival unaccompanied by a parent or adult age 21 or older will be given a different color band.
The festival also has posted a "Tosafest Code of Conduct" on its website.