Burning Cow Music Festival

burningcow_bandsBY Taylor Hale

Wisconsinites looking for summer fun won’t have to drive all the way to Burning Man in Nevada to see a gigantic, wooden effigy burned to ashes. Burning Cow Music Festival, held in Door County, is Wisconsin’s very own rendition of the sculpture torching night of music and art. The three-day camping and music festival, which starts July 21, will end with a climactic burning of a 25-foot tall wooden cow.

Maxwell Wilkinson, Burning Cow Music Festival Event Coordinator, is excited about this year’s entertainment.

“It’s the largest bonfire in Northeast Wisconsin, so I think that is part of the attraction.,” Wilkinson said. “You know, we bring these blues and southern rock bands up to Door County from across the nation. They are high energy, foot stomping bands steeped in tradition, playing riff laden music with growling lyrics. These bands play for the truth of the music, not a corporate record label.”

Wilkinson is one of the planners that helped the festival find it’s footing in early 2015. Now in its second year, the festival is running stronger than ever.

“This is only our second year, and last year we had a few hundred guests there to witness the Burn. We are realistically hoping to get about 1,000 people,” said Wilkinson. “Maybe more.”

And the festival staff plans to accommodate the expected growth by giving guests more of what they want – great music and great food.

“Returning from last year is Anthony Gomes, and we are delighted that he could fit us into his schedule. Not only can this man sing, and play incredible blues, he actually wrote the book on the cultural evolution of blues music for his master’s thesis,” Wilkinson said. “T Bacon’s BBQ will be on site all weekend, too. Chef Tom Bacon has won a number of awards for his barbecue sauces and pulled pork. Also, Door County Brewing Company will be setting us up with an assortment of their fine craft brews.”

The sonic boundaries of blues and rock are sure to be pushed to the limit at Burning Cow. Bands from all over the country are coming to rock the stage at the festival. Bands hailing from Georgia, Washington, and Missouri are coming to experience a cathartic night of music, art, and community. Fans and bands alike have been gearing up for the start of the festival.

“I still get text messages from some of the tour managers and band members, just checking in to see how the festival is coming together. I think they just want to come back,” Wilkinson joked.

But it isn’t all fun and games.

BurningCow2“Seeing a festival through from conception to completion is really a whirlwind experience for me,” Wilkinson said “it encompasses every emotion. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when people come up to you to thank you for making it all happen.”

The hard work and dedication that the event coordinators and planners put into Burning Cow is truly breath-taking. It is a job that requires passion and enthusiasm. An event coordinator has to enjoy creating moments that will capture people’s imaginations.

“As much fun as everyone has at Burning Cow, I have more fun than anyone because I’m helping to create something that will last in people’s memories forever,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson’s mission is to bring new and fresh music to the Wisconsin area.

“We are introducing Door County to a whole new group of talented artists,” he said “that’s why I love this festival. We bring in bands that most people have never heard of, but who are really talented and entertaining. I’m eager to hear what the crowd has to say about the talent this year. I’m excited for literally every band on the lineup. They are all amazing.”

After the music on July 23, the ceremonial igniting of the 25-foot by 18-foot wooden cow will burn while attendees watch the flames hypnotically leap into the night sky as the structure turns to ash. It’s sure to be a great way to end the three-day long festival of music, food, and camping.
“Everybody loves a good bonfire in the summer,” Wilkinson laughed.

To learn more about Burning Cow Music Festival, see the 2016 schedule, and buy tickets, visit or find it on Facebook at

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