Appleton’s Mile of Music thrives on donors, fans and no tic…


Jones Park is full of music fans Aug. 5, 2022, for Mile of Music. The free music festival marks a decade in 2023 and now has a $2.6 million budget yet doesn't charge an admittance fee.

APPLETON – The city’s four-day Mile of Music festival bills itself as a free way to catch original music from 200 artists at 40 venues.

This year’s lineup includes local and international acts at various stages in their careers.

The festival draws a crowd because of its talent, uniqueness and, in part, because there is no cost to attend. But putting on the festival certainly is not 100% free.

The 2022 festival cost about $2.6 million to run the 700 music sets across 40 venues, the Post-Crescent reported in January. Dave Willems, executive producer of Mile of Music and founder of Willems Marketing & Events, breaks down what it truly takes to make this festival happen.

Where does funding for the festival come from?

That $2.6 million is roughly the festival’s budget each year, but Willems said about one-third of that comes from a “long list” of in-kind sponsors, which offer services in exchange for sponsorship and are a “huge piece of what we do.”

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