Plans are in place for the fifth annual Freakfest in downtown Madison this weekend, but one local official says the cost of keeping it peaceful remains a concern.
City officials began charging admission to the annual Halloween celebration on State Street in 2006, following years of riot-like conditions. The fences will still be up this weekend and there will still be a strong police presence.
Alderman Jed Sanborn says costs have gone down since the city and a private promoter began working to plan the celebration. He says it remains an expensive event to hold, but he doesn’t believe the city has much choice in the matter. In the years leading up to creation of Freakfest, Madison had earned a reputation for wild Halloween celebrations downtown.
The cost to taxpayers for the event last year was about $40,000. Although, Sanborn says that figure was about ten times higher when the city started running under the banner of Freakfest in 2006 and even higher when there were riots and a large number of arrests.