by Laura Kocum
on Thursday, May 24th, 2018 at 9:04pm.
The weekend weather forecast looks promising, and no one could be happier than the people behind Brat Fest. Brat Fest kicks off Friday at the Alliant Energy Center, and will continue through Memorial Day. The event is a Madison tradition, dating back to 1983, when brats were cooked and served in the grocery store parking lot at Hilldale Mall. The event has grown to become a huge festival, with four music stages, carnival rides, thousands of brats, and close to 1.75 million dollars raised for charity.
This year, organizers hope to beat their all time record for brats served. That record was made in 2010, with 209,376 brats eaten, and near perfect weather conditions. After a few years with rainy weather, 2018 looks promising. The brat stations are staffed by volunteers, all raising money for their nonprofits. This year, 6,827 volunteer shifts are scheduled, a record for the festival.
The weekend is filled with fun events for the whole family. A kids zone features a wide variety of activities (some free, some have fees). You'll find Ultrazone Lazer Tag, a Petting Zoo, WOW Balls, and more. A sports zone will offer a place for grown-ups to play volleyball, human foosball, and other games. There's even a location set aside for dogs! Veterans and their families will appreciate the Vietnam Memorial, and athletes can enjoy the Brat Fest Bun Run 5k or 10k on Saturday morning.
Of course, the World's Largest Brat Fest wouldn't be complete without live music. Four distinct stages are housed within the festival grounds. Enjoy classic rock at the Baker Tilly Main Stage, Christian music at the EZ Office Products/Lifest Stage, rock/blues/country music at the Ameriprise Financial/Agrace Island Stage, and rock/country performers at the HoChunk Gaming Grand Stage. Headliners this year include Stryper, Aaron Lewis, Stars Grow Dim, Bobaflex, Madison County, Gin Blossoms and more!
If you go, plan on passing through a security station, which will use metal detectors. There is no fee for parking, admission, or to enjoy the music at any of the four stages. Brats sell for $3 each, and soda and grilled corn will also be available. Grab a brat (or several brats), pick your favorite performers, and enjoy the day!