Freakfest Offers New Traditions, Same Great Halloween Spirit

By Sean Kittridge Staff Writer Special To Channel 3000

MADISON, Wis. — Halloween is more mythology than reality.

As a child, it was hyperbolic tales of gut-busting candy ingestion. As a college student, it’s the legends of pure insanity sure to ensue on State Street over Halloween weekend.

For the most part, both of these are highly fictionalized claims. Since 2006, when the city took control of the Halloween party — now known as Freakfest — the atmosphere has improved greatly. The crowds are more manageable, the skies are clear of tear gas billows and the city is taking in money on charged admission. Even more, despite all the changes, it’s still a night of action and fun.

The highlight of the newly organized event is live music, delivered by local promoter Frank Productions, giving partygoers an alternative to slowly shuffling up and down State Street. Third-Eye Blind, the ’90s alt-rock band that achieved popularity with singles “Jumper” and “Semi-Charmed Life,” headlines in what is sure to be a tribute to young adult nostalgia. Other groups will play throughout the festivities, including Cage the Elephant, Push Play, the Nod and Locksley.

However, one does not need to be an avid music fan to enjoy a party in the heart of downtown.

Like a state fair on steroids, Freakfest is ideal for people watching. Costumes range from hilariously slapped together to painstakingly planned and constructed, with every look from classically scary to adorable to ?I?d kill my daughter if I ever caught her in that? making an appearance.

Equally interesting are the large stadium lights set up to illuminate the event far beyond sunset. This permanent daylight allows you to inspect the most detailed intricacies of a well-made costume, and ensures that even if there is a full moon, you?ll be unable to fear its ominous glow.

While a piece of Madison’s revolutionary spirit died in the commercialization of Halloween, the city is better for it. It is still a night unlike any other. Throngs of students brave the cold in outfits that beg for hypothermia, the police converse freely with the attendees and, for once, this year Oct. 31 falls on a Saturday.

It still might not stand up to free candy, but at least you won’t have to share this with your younger sister.

For more information about this year’s event, visit Channel 3000’s Freakfest section