Waterfest is a Celebration of The Quality of Life we enjoy here in the Fox Valley Area. The name was chosen to draw attention to our most valuable, unique and recognizable resource, our waterways.

The event takes place on the shores of the historic Fox River in Downtown Oshkosh. The city of Oshkosh is nestled between and on Lakes Butte des Morts and Winnebago. The Fox River runs through Oshkosh having been joined by The Wolf River at the west end of Lake Butte des Morts.

The recreational assets of these bodies of water provide great value and sense of pride to area residents, businesses and visitors. World class fishing, international sailing events, ice boating, pleasure boating, swimming and hunting are some of the many activities we celebrate.

Come and enjoy Oshkosh's new River Walk from the sensational Leach Amphitheater to The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Campus. While you do, stop at our new Best Western Premier Hotel and Convention Center and enjoy some dock side dining.


We enjoy our beautiful Wisconsin summer with the companionship of family, friends and associates in a park-like setting on the Fox River...

Most of all, we are treated to an outstanding line-up of Jazz, Pop, Rock, R&B, Blues and Roots Music.

Some 2,500-7,500 fans may be in attendance on any given evening. We are prepared to greet 30,000 guests or more during the 8 evenings of entertainment.

The downtown patios, beer gardens and clubs bustle before and after the event, so come early and stay late! The Park and Riverfront welcomes boaters and tailgaters who picnic before and during the event. The Amphitheater gates usually open before 6PM and as early as 5PM. Music generally starts a few minutes after the gates open and never runs past 11pm. Waterfest beats the heat and those summer re-runs! Enjoy for family and friends at a great event!


Admission varies and can be found on the Waterfest Home Page (more details will be posted as they are finalized).

Look at Pass Pack and Season Pass Discount Offers when you do. There may also be special deals on admissions on some dates.

General admission is FREE for US Armed Service Veterans and also FREE to youth 12 and under when accompanied by parent or responsible adult.

All visitors must wear a patron wristband (Sorry No Carry Ins).


The Waterfest Concert Series is operated by Waterfest Inc. a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is the perpetuation and betterment of the Waterfest event and its celebration of our Quality of Life. The members of Waterfest Inc. consist of a small group of volunteers much like a community service group.

Waterfest, Inc. underwrites the risk of event by producing the entertainment. When it rains it really 'poors'. The cost of the entertainment is covered in part by the generous sponsorships we receive, a portion of the admission proceeds and a portion of the concession proceeds. Any surplus is generally invested in the following years entertainment budget or to help cover the previous years shortfall. The Chamber of Commerce is hired annually to coordinate the involvement of the various volunteer organizations to help with the concessions and other event requirements.


  • 2014 Waterfest Weekend, The Nuge, Under The Sun Tour and America define a great summer!
  • 2013 The Danger Zone & Kenny Loggins Highlight and Lukas Nelson returned for an encore
  • 2012 REO Speedwagon, A Silent Film and Here Come the Mummies delight the fans!
  • 2011 The Doobie Brothers headline the finale while Bob Schneider and Lukas Nelson flaunt some Austin roots.
  • 2010 Alice Cooper is a Nightmare flood and total wash out :( 38 Special rains force them inside. Cold and wet year!
  • 2009 Veterans admitted free! Los Lonely Boys & Rusted Root audition for the first time at Waterfest.
  • 2008 Alice Cooper - check out his Waterfest performance on YouTube - WOW!
  • 2007 Waterfest 007 celebrates the Chamber's 100th with Lover Boy, George Thorogood, Little Feat, Smash Mouth and "All Star" 22nd season.
  • 2006 Year two of 'The Leach' saw the Bodeans bring 8,000 fans to their feet, Sister Hazel joined Cowboy Mouth on the stage and Joan Jett earned a "Good" Reputation.
  • 2005 Leach Amphitheater makes history! Collective Soul, The BoDeans, Pat Benatar and 3 Dog Night insure a record setting first season in a world class facility. Phyllis Rocks!
  • 2004 Leach Amphitheater breaks grounds, a record 55 acts are scheduled! Throughout the summer record rainfall and record lows put a damper on the summer although Waterfest continues to prosper, thatís why we call it Waterfest.
  • 2003 Michael McDonald kicks off his highly successful Motown in Oshkosh, Cheap Trick gets wet, the Tubes put on a circus, and Cowboy Mouth turns Waterfest into Mardi Gras!
  • 2002 The World Famous Pontoni Sisters join Los Straitjackets, Big Sandy and Cowboy Mouth for a July 3 Rock 'n Roll Party!
  • 2001 The odyssey continues... The FIXX, Wang Chung, and The Romantics stunt the MTV generation again. Eddie Money rocks!
  • 2000 BIG TIME names are signed to help celebrate 15 years and over 500 acts. Benjamin Orr plays farewell performance. Todd Rundgren bangs on his drum all day!
  • 1999 Road Trip gets cobbered with worst storm of the summer. Four weeks later CJ Chenier gets it just as bad. That is why they call it Waterfest.
  • 1998 Waterfest goofs by turning down the Dixie Chicks for $3,500.
  • 1997 Waterfest gets lucky with booking Jonny Lang for $3,500.
  • 1996 More port-o-potties added/boat tie-ups & bulk heads improved. subdudes play.
  • 1995 Janet Macklin gets rained out for a record 5th time. Chuck thinks sheís hexed.
  • 1994 Slow year, Chuck and Rob kick back and have a beer enjoy Yooper Flashbacks.
  • 1993 Waterfest assumes ìconcert series formatî/Waterfest, Inc formed to underwrite risks. Sweetwater with Line Dancing opens new formatóLater Starship thanks city fathers for erecting a spaceship in their honor (the restroom facilities). Format works despite the line dancing.
  • 1992 Oshkosh Jaycees end four year management of waterfest and four day/weekend format ceases.
  • 1991 Laser Shows and Fireworks a big hit/carnival is dropped. The Guess Who headline -- great show!
  • 1990 Big shows include Da Yoopers! and The Turtles. Shows at Grand during Waterfest end.
  • 1989 Jaycees take over Waterfest move it to Convention Center, Grand Opera House, City Parking Lot and Riverside Park. The highly ambitious schedule included 5 stages, carnival, comedy film festival, Waterski and Laser light shows. Big names include Bodeans, Leo Koetke, Spyro Gyra and even Tiny Tim.
  • 1988 Chamber ends underwriting Wisconsinís Largest Free Music Fest & look for a successor.
  • 1987 Romantics and BTO headline the event draws well. Somewhere upnort Da Yoopers hit Gold with The Second Week of Deer Camp.
  • 1986 Waterfest kicks off YEAR # 1 at The Fox Valley Tech Campus on the Fox River at the Wisconsin Street Bridge. Big names include The Association, Freddie Fender, Booze Bothers & Almost Elvis.
  • 1985 City fathers, Chamber, Chamco and Oshkosh business community get together to underwrite Waterfest, 'Wisconsinís Largest Free Music Festival' in hopes to change internal and external perceptions of the community. This following the 'Rust Belt' exodus to Texas and Sun Belt of Jobs and much of our manufacturing based economy. Poor internal confidence was seen as a major obstacle in the recruitment of new employers to the area. So, they decided to accentuate the positive and shine a big bright light on our defining natural asset - our waterways. Citizens rallied - Oshkosh On The Water is born and plans for a festival are created to raise awareness of it.
  • 1980-84 Wisconsin and the Midwest take the brunt of the worst economic recession since the oil embargo of 73. Unemployment rates hit double digits and Prime 21%. The Rust Belt is coined and morale sinks. Da Yoopers dig the unemployment checks and start a band to get some beer money.
  • 1975-80 Japan is tops. GM rots. Peanut farmer is President.
  • 1970-75 Lookout! Disco and Platform heals are hear. Some future Waterfest acts have hit records.
  • 1960-69 Groooooovey Baby!!!!!/Da Rusty Chevrolet is purchased (only twice owned) for a pound of lard.
  • 1950-59 ELVIS
  • 1940-49 Swing/Da Yoopers learn to play the Cow Bell.
  • 1930-39 Jazz
  • 1920-29 Show Tunes
  • 1900-19 Rag Time
  • 1800-99 Oshkosh City fathers plan several waterfests to douse the Great Fires of Saw Dust City. Da Yoopers head to the Great White North after getting kicked out of Acadia (Nova Scotia) others more fortunate head to New Orleans, become Cajuns and learn how to cook.
  • 1700-99 Fur and leather are supreme & the Fox/Wolf river waterways are the only way to travel. Da Yoopers find Nova Scotia while looking for a beer.
  • 1600-99 French explorers break new ground modern commerce begins. Father Marquette explored the Fox River Valley and predicts a waterfestival will help commemorate the great waters of their travels. Da Yoopers travel with others from France in search of 'a good beer' & having a distaste for champagne.
  • 1492-1599 The New World is discovered but someone fails to tell the Native Americans.
  • 1350-1491 Not much happens.
  • 4501BC-1349 Things Happen.
  • 4500BC Alien Cone Heads land and drop off Da Yoopers somewhere in France as an interstellar gift.
  • 4499BC Da Yoopers sing folk ballads to entertain Cone Heads at summer party on Romulac.
  • 60 million or so BC & BY Ice Age forms much of Fox River Valley & gives reason to celebrate!

For more information about Waterfest, please call 920.303.2265 x22 or send an email to info@waterfest.org