Location, time, competition and music

If for some reason you feel like leaving the peace and quiet of your swamp this weekend… Shrekfest is coming to Milwaukee for the first time.

Yes, there is such a thing as Shrekfest.

And it’s probably unlike any event you’ve heard of – or attended – before.

Like many events, there are contests. But these involve onion-eating, roaring, and “Shrek” character costumes.

There will also be live music, local vendors and a screening of the movie that inspired it all.

“Come party with us,” said Grant Duffrin, co-founder and director of Shrekfest. “Bring a folding chair, have a beer and listen to some awesome music. We’re going to do some fun games, like the onion eating contest, which is everyone’s favorite. And then at the end of the night, we’re going to watch a fantastic movie.”

Duffrin and his pals Eric Nitschke and Kevin Gonring host the annual event as 3GI Industries, a local arts collective also known for their surreal comedy videos on their popular YouTube channel.

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The festival was held in Madison from 2014 to 2019, Duffrin said. The event has gone virtual for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s what to know about Shrekfest, from where and when it’s been this year to how it all started.

When is Shrekfest?

3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3

Where does Shrekfest take place?

Humboldt Park, 3000 S. Howell Ave.

How Shrekfest Began

“I ran into a fake Facebook event,” Duffrin said.

In 2014, Duffrin said he and his friends came across a Facebook event called Shrekfest that was going to be held in Madison.

“We were so excited to go,” he said.

A few weeks before the event, he said, they discovered it was fake.

“The joke just went over our heads,” Duffrin said. “We thought it was actually a cool event.”

So they decided to bring it to life themselves.

Why it’s moving from Madison to Milwaukee

Since the fake event was to be held in Madison, that’s where the band decided to hold it, Duffrin said.

It was held in the state capital from 2014 to 2019.

But since the founders live in the Milwaukee area, Duffrin said, they decided to move it closer to home this year.

Why “Shrek”?

“It’s a great movie,” Duffrin said. “And I don’t even know what to say other than that.”

“What is it about ‘Shrek’ that seems to have so completely captured the imagination of my generation, generations below me and generations above me?” he said. “I really don’t know what it is, but I totally agree that it has some kind of power.”

How many participants does it attract?

The last in-person Shrekfest, in 2019, drew around a thousand attendees, Duffrin said. He expects a similar turnout this year.

Attendees of a previous Shrekfest in Madison dressed as "shrek" character costumes including Princess Fiona and Lord Farquaad.

How to enter contests

The three Shrekfest contests – eat onions, roar, and costume – are judged by Shrekfest organizers. The number of people who can attend each is limited, so attendees should register at the merchandise/registration table when they arrive to secure a spot.

The roar contest is at 4:30 p.m., the costume contest is at 5:30 p.m., and the onion eating contest is at 7:30 p.m.

How the Onion Eating Contest Works

You’ve probably heard of hot dog, pie, and cream puff tasting contests.

So why not onions?

The big green guy himself told Donkey that “ogres are like onions” after taking a big bite out of it. And why is that? They both have diapers.

The goal of the onion-eating contest is to eat an onion the fastest, Duffrin said. Usually it takes about three rounds to declare a winner.

“You’d be surprised how hard it is to eat an onion all at once,” he said. “Very few people can do that. But the people who can, we find them.”

When people sign up to participate, Duffrin said, they might have to eat half an onion to prove they can do it.

The Roar Contest

For the roar contest, the judges are looking for “ferocity,” Duffrin said.

“Usually winners have some kind of creative approach to their roar, or maybe they’re just the loudest,” he said.

A roar contest participant dressed as Shrek at a previous Shrekfest in Madison.

costume contest

The costume contest usually has a few winners because “everyone hits a different niche,” Duffrin said, such as the most creative, the scariest, or the cutest.

Some costumes that have been memorable for Duffrin over the years include Pinocchio with a sprouting nose, half-human/half-ogre princess Fiona, and his favorite: When Someone Came Dressed As Doris the Ugly Step-Sister of “Shrek 2” for the first time.

“I love the homemade ones,” Duffrin said. “I love the ones where you can see they sewed it up and things like that. I love the DIY costumes.”

live music

Sauce Hound performs at 3:30 p.m.; The Unitaskers perform at 5:00 p.m.; and Star67 performs at 6 p.m.

Screening of “Shrek”

A screening of “Shrek” will take place at 8 p.m.

Live Streaming Components

If you can’t make it to the event in person, you can still be part of Shrekfest.

There will be a livestream via Twich which will feature live footage from the event, as well as bonus items which are not included in the physical festival.

These online exclusives include an art exhibit with fan-submitted artwork at 5 p.m.; a film festival with Shrek-inspired shorts, music videos and cartoons at 6 p.m.; and at 8 p.m., a screening of “Shrek Retold,” a wildly popular scene-by-scene remake of “Shrek” that 3GI was behind.

Read more about “Shrek Retold”

For “Shrek Retold,” more than 200 creatives, including animators, filmmakers, cartoonists, artists, puppeteers and musicians, recreated scenes from the film.

Although the film wasn’t released until 2018, the idea originated in 2013 or 2014, Duffrin said.

In 2014, he said he reached out to the creators and asked if they wanted to help remake “Shrek.” But, he mostly encountered no-thanks, no answers or confusion.

But in 2017, after Duffrin had a few Shrekfests under his belt and also laid the groundwork for the project, he tried to make “Shrek Retold” a reality again. This time he gained the traction he needed.

The film, which Duffrin directed, debuted in November 2018. Since then, it has had more than 9 million views on YouTube.

“It’s just the power of Shrek,” Duffrin said.

“Shrek 2 Retold” is in the works, with about twice as many people involved in the first movie, Duffrin said. He said he plans to release it in 2023.

Shrekfest Launch Party at X-Ray Arcade

A Shrekfest launch party will be held at X-Ray Arcade, 5036 S. Packard Ave., Cudahy, on Friday night, according to the venue’s website.

There will be a live performance by Ogre Patrol, a Shrek-themed indie duo; and a County Conservation District “Shrek-friendly” DJ set.

There will be Shrek-themed food and drink specials, games and more.

The party is open to all ages and there is no cover charge, the website said. Doors open at 7 p.m. and music starts at 8 p.m.

X-Ray Arcade currently requires proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test result within 72 hours for all events, the event’s Facebook page said.

Afterparty Shrekfest at Indeed Brewing

A Shrekfest afterparty will be held at Indeed Brewing, 530 S. 2nd Street, on Saturday “to continue the celebration of love and life,” the event’s Facebook page said.

There will be Shrek board games, video games and “all the beer you can afford”.

The party is scheduled from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.

For more information on Shrekfest

For more information on Shrekfest and its full schedule, visit the3gi.com/shrekfest.html. To follow the festival on social networks, here is its Facebook, facebook.com/theShrekfest, Instagram, instagram.com/theshrekfest and Twitter, twitter.com/TheShrekfestpages.

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A Shrek-themed rave

A Shrek-themed rave for all ages will be held at the Rave/Eagles Club, 2401 W. Wisconsin Avenue, on Saturday night, according to the venue’s website.

The first act is due to take place at 9 p.m. “Shrek Rave” has been moved to a larger room in the venue “due to high demand,” the website said.

For general admission tickets, which are $27, or for venue policies, visit therave.com/concert_details.asp?id=7479.

Screenings of “Shrek” at Marcus Theaters

You might see “Shrek” in theaters once again – or for the first time – thanks to Marcus Theatres.

Various Marcus Cinemas across Wisconsin (and beyond) will screen the film Friday through September 8.

To find out which theaters will screen the film and on what dates/times, visit bit.ly/3Q51ki6.

Contact Hannah Kirby at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @HannahHopeKirby.