This year’s Freakfest saw a decrease in ticket sales at just over 20,000 purchases, but also a significant decrease in arrests on Saturday.
Performers like Lil Yachty — and also some of Madison’s best upcoming artists — took to State Street for Madison’s annual Halloween music festival, despite steady rain and cold temperatures.
And while 20,000 tickets seems like a large amount, it’s actually low for the festival compared to recent years, according to Freakfest’s most recent data.
Over 32,000 tickets were sold in 2016 and approximately over 37,000 in 2015. There has also been a steady decrease in arrests since Freakfest’s introduction in 2006, with the exception of 2012 and 2014.
Prior to Freakfest, fights, property damage and a high number of arrests ensued every year on Halloween. Freakfest was created by the city in 2006 in order to generate a sense of safe, organized and positive community on State Street.
The number of police arrests have decreased tremendously after the city started ticketing and gating the downtown area; in 2005, there were 334 arrests, which lowered to 148 the following year.
Last year only saw 12 arrests — and there were only two on Saturday, according to the Madison Police Department.
Joel DeSpain, MPD’s Information Officer, explained some of the department’s measures to ensure that Freakfest is safe and enjoyable for the community, like implementing gates around the perimeter of the entire event and officers at every entrance.
Additionally, there were over 100 private security staff auditing the event and a full array of surveillance cameras were set up in the State Street area and monitored at all times.
Each year, the police department gathers to discuss precautions and tweak their safety policy in order to improve safety measures each year, according to DeSpain. In response to the shooting that occurred after Freakfest last year in a nearby parking ramp, both MPD and other law enforcement agencies stepped up the patrol in parking garages in order to ensure increased surveillance.
Tate Sundberg, one of the many UW-Madison students who attended the event, stated his appreciation for MPD’s added safety measures.
“When people are in costumes, especially with masks, there is an element of uncertainty,” Sundberg said. “However, this year, the precautions the police took made me feel safe, and I was able to enjoy the event instead of being worried.”