BY CIARAN FITZPATRICK | NOVEMBER 23, 2015
“You met Moses!? I saw him, we high-fived. I was like whoa, another dude from the bible.”
So began my conversation with Jesus Christ, real name Jesse Bodnar, at Madison’s largest Halloween party. Freakfest is a yearly event drawing upwards of 34,000 people, according to NBC15 WMTV.
The event, which has in the past been plagued by incidents of drunken criminal behavior, is in its tenth year since becoming an official city event. Police roamed the streets from early in the day to closing, and the event went off without incident. Only nine arrests were recorded over the night, and seven of these were simple citations.
While a police presence ensured the event did not get out of control, as it once did, it’s done nothing to dampen the wild imagination of many of the party goers.
“God would probably send a few lightning bolts down here,” Jesse tells me, “it’s far too fun here for him.” As we discussed God’s take on Freakfest, a large group of men dressed as bananas jogged by, followed closely by a giraffe on stilts.
In this reporter’s opinion, Freakfest is truly a place for the fruition of bold and perhaps ridiculous ideas. It’s a vast collection of the outlandishly unrestrained, and it ill fits the parameters of any normality.
Over a dozen bands perform this year, with country singer Chase Rice and pop-rapper Timeflies headlining proceedings. Despite the event’s premise as a large-scale, single-day music festival, the people of Freakfest seemed largely indifferent to the musicians headlining the main stages.
Jesse assumed Chase Rice to be, “some sort of delicious snack, it might be Irish,” and on the fringes of the Mountain Dew stage I met a group of teens, all suspiciously sipping on a single bottle of Tropicana orange juice. The eldest, Austin, summarized the discography of headliner Timeflies as, “He sings some songs, a good song, and some other songs.” All in all, not a glowing reference.
Austin, a child of the millennium, was dressed in full Aaron Carter garb, the early 2000’s popstar famous for beating 15-time NBA All-star Shaquille O’Neal in one-on-one despite being thirteen years old.
In the shadow the capital building, Timeflies took to the Mountain Dew stage just after midnight. Dressed as Luigi of Super Mario Brothers, he immediately set the tone of the performance to come as he proclaimed, “Y’all ready to go under the blue? ‘Cause I’m gonna take you under the sea!”
As the set drew to a close, Timeflies commanded the crowd, “I want 20,000 people to scream ‘Motherf**ker, what up!?’.” Most of the several hundred in attendance complied.
The night drew to a quiet close as nearly 34,000 people trudge home, bedraggled after hours of revelry and ready for bed. Dracula walked by me, a forlorn look across his face as he carried a worse for wear friend in full priestly robes – complete with a large plastic cross affixed around the priest’s neck. Dracula was bizarrely unaffected.
As the square began to empty, I met a man in a Tim Tebow jersey. He was kneeling in conscious effort to avoid losing the sampling of Wisconsin’s finest beers coursing through his bloodstream to the flagstones beneath him. He got up, as I neared, to stumble after a woman in a low-cut nurse’s outfit and ask her name.
“Madeleine,” she called back – safely out of the range of any further conversation.
“I’m drunk as hell,” he murmured and took off across the square. It appeared he had left both his passionate celibacy, and his costume character’s trademark explosiveness at the end of the bar a few hours earlier.