If you ventured downtown anytime from Aug. 7-10, you saw something special going on. This year marked the second Mile of Music Festival, or “Mile 2,” which featured 218 musical artists paying 622 live music sets in about a one-mile stretch of downtown Appleton, including Houdini Plaza (shown).
In addition to tripling the musical performances this year, the event tripled attendance over the festival’s first year, seeing up to 45,000 visitors. Partnerships with radio stations in Madison and Milwaukee helped boost attendance this year, says organizer Dave Willems.
Willems co-founded the event last year with musician and former Appleton resident Cory Chisel, who now resides in Nashville and performed several times throughout the weekend. The festival also saw special guest appearances by musicians Langhorne Slim and Ruby Amanfu, as well as Jimmy Chamberlin, the former drummer for the Smashing Pumpkins.
The event, which costs about $450,000 in cash and in-kind donations, saw a “small surplus” that helped make up for a “small shortfall” the first year, Willems says. Festival attendees could purchase VIP tickets to ensure first-come access to venues, but otherwise the event is free for visitors. That helped lead to a $2 million spending impact at musical host venues, downtown businesses and hotels, Willems says.
Plans for Mile 3 aren’t necessarily to get bigger – just better, possibly adding a second weekend or adding more educational events and more performances.
“We really like how Mile of Music has already become known in the music industry nationally for filling a critical niche – that of featuring emerging artists,” Willems says. “We are definitely going to continue to accentuate that role.”