View the MAPFest TimeLine.
MAPFest was conceived by George Prentice, owner of the popular LaCage Aux Folles nightclub, as a way for the community to support the fledgling Milwaukee AIDS Project (MAP), a.k.a., ARCW (AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin). The concept was to make it a celebration of health and diversity which could attract gay as well as understanding or sympathetic/ supportive non-gay people.
The first MAPFest was held on Labor Day, Monday September 1st, 1986, in the blocked off S. 2nd Street between National and Walker Sts.; directly fronting or backing on 4 major LGBT clubs/bars at the time: Mint Bar II, La Cage, Hot Legs, and the YP/ Your Place.
In the second year, an outdoor performance/ stage was added, and despite intermittent rain, was quite popular. In year three, the stage was repeated, and named "Under the Big Top".
In succeeding years, MAPFest found several different locations, including Schlitz Park (a block east of a building that would one day house the ARCW, and later the local LGBT Community Center), and the grounds of the Performing Arts Center.
Although MAPFest was popular, weather was always a gamble, and there was a perception of competition with PrideFest as well, which was becoming more popular. It was decided that other AIDS fundraising events, such as the Make A Promise Dinner and AIDS Walk, were better and more reliable methods of raising funds for the ARCW; so after the mid-1990's, the event was discontinued.
Ad for 1st MAPFest, 1986
Article describing 3rd MAPFest, 1988
1994 MAPFest flyer
Credits: design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: October-2005.