It’s one of the spookiest nights in Madison, one that has also earned the reputation of being one of the most dangerous.
Madison Police say that since Freakfest became a ticketed event, the number of incidents have decreased significantly. Business owners also say the night calmed down once the gates went up.
This year’s Freakfest is a unique one, not because of the music acts or the costumes: UW-Madison picked this weekend for homecoming, and the Badgers played a home football game against Michigan State Saturday afternoon.
That meant some extra attention from Madison Police and traffic control crews. Police spokesperson Joel DeSpain said that while things were just as quiet as they had been over the past few years, the detours were a bit of a different story.
"Immediately after the football game, I can tell you firsthand trying to get downtown, it was gridlock in many of the streets. Again, I think as time went on, that alleviated itself," DeSpain explained.
At State Street Brats, nearly every seat was filled for the game. Owner Kelly Meuer expected the same type of crowd for the costume-filled night, but said profits don’t come in significantly higher than other weekends. However, he doesn’t blame that on the event now being gated, rather on the nature of Freakfest.
"There are lots and lots of people, but it's not as busy as people might think," Meuer said.
Meuer said visiting alumni and game attendees could provide an extra business boost if they decide to stick around for the fun.
"They're already out, they're already at the game. So they say, 'let's just go down there and see what's going on,'"Meuer said.
DeSpain said that about 300 officers, deputies, and others were assigned to patrolling the State Street area for Freakfest. The city expected 45,000 people to come out for the event.