Every Memorial Day weekend from Fri-Monday
Brat Fest has been an annual event in Madison since 1983. The first Brat Fest consisted of one grill and one drink stand. Late owner Tom Metcalfe is seen here at the grill. Now in the 2000’s, his sons Tim and Kevin run the event.
The host grocery store is Metcalfe’s. In the beginning, there was only one Metcalfe’s store, located at the Hilldale shopping center just outside. It could still fit in the store parking lot, and the event was on Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. Here is how it looked in 2002.
In 2005, it relocated to Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center. It then scaled back to Memorial day weekend only. The venue added music and a carnival in this much larger space. A great many charities raise funds working at Brat Fest, my husband and I volunteer to assist the two organizations we are affiliated with.
The organizations we assist are NewBridge and/or the Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin.
It’s so much fun too, and we enjoy grilling best of all of the volunteer jobs they have. Here we are in 2013.
Let’s go down memory lane, these picture was from Labor Day weekend in 2002, when it was held in the Hilldale parking lot. it got too big for that and moved to Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center. However, it is only on Memorial Day weekend after the move. Every year they try to set a new record with the number of bratwursts sold. The brand is Johnsonville.
In 2019, Field Roast Plant-Based Bratwurst for vegans. Boar’s Head 1/4 lb Uncured Pork & Beef Hot Dog for non-Brat eaters.
Here are more recent photos of Brat Fest. This is looking across to Willow Island.
The Weinermobile used to be there too, not recently though since they no longer serve this brand of hot dogs.
In the early years at Willow Island, Johnsonville brings their “World’s Largest Grill” to show off. Very cool! This was in 2006. That year they took pictures of you in front of the grill with a Polaroid.
This the brat Tent where all the brats are sold.
Behind the tent are many grillers working hard. I am usually put in charge of the veggie brats since I am so careful with them.
Condiment tent, everything including sauerkraut, onions, relish and ketchup and many flavors of mustard. Yum!
A new addition a few years ago, roasted corn. Not local corn, that’s not until July/August. Still yummy though. Al posed with the Corn Lady. And here we are last year posing with a friend of ours.
Get your mementos here at the Brat Gear tent. There are new items here every year.
A special ice cream is also sold just at Brat Fest by Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, Bratfest Cookie Dough. Delicious!
There is not just great food here, there is also a carnival and four music stages as well as fair food at the carnival located in the parking lot.
Even the Budweiser Clydesdales stop by occasionally. You won’t leave here hungry or un-entertained!
They also came in 2017 and 2018, see the video of them going by!
Sometimes kayaking for the kids by Rutabaga.
See video of some of the action in 2017.
In 2018, we enjoyed the fireworks display for the first time! Laurie managed to go all four days this year and recorded A LOT of performances.
The Trinity Irish Dancers put on a great show!
Another favorite group of ours is Mighty Wheelhouse.
The Swing Crew from the Wisconsin Dells, a funny group!
Traditional music from Mexico by Mariachi Monarcas, from Milwaukee.
We hope you had fun, see you next year!
Madison, Wis. residents set new bratwurst-eating record (obscurestore.typepad.com)