History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Organizations - Performing Arts


Chorus, Men & Women




May 1985
approx 1998

Go to the Fest City Singers' Concert Programs Gallery.


The Fest City Singers was founded early in 1985, when it was originally named the "Festival City Gay Chorus". An initial group of fifteen people formed from the dream and vision of a core group or four: Ron Thate, Dan Gniotczynski, Bernie Sans, and Joey Appleman. The group came about to provide the sole entertainment for the softball Gay World Series held in Milwaukee that year.

By mid-1986 the group, which had changed its name to the Fest City Singers, had grown to 40 members, under the direction of Bernard Sans. In that first year, they had performed in numerous benefits for Mandella, the Milwaukee AIDS Project (MAP), and the BESTD Clinic.

Their 1992 Mission Statement read: "The Fest City Singers is a choral organization designed to promote understanding and unity within the Gay & Lesbian community of Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin. Through our unique form of entertainment, the cabaret, we address the challenges that we face with a purposeful eye and a song in our heart. We strive to give a voice to the men and women in our community. Join us and share in the gift of unity and music."

The group apparently disbanded sometime after May 1997.

Festival City Gay Chorus' premiere performance at M&M, June 1985
In Step, vol. 2 no. 13
Christmas Holiday Season concert at Club 219, December 1985
In Step, vol. 2 no. 13
Ad for Festival Weekend, April 1986
In Step, vol. 3 no. 6
Photo of the group (date unknown)

Photo of the group (date unknown)


Gay Men and Women chorus forming, May 1985
In Step, vol. 2 no. 10

Article about the Singers at one year (May 1986)
In Step, vol. 3 no. 10

Photos from concert, May 1986
In Step, vol. 3 no. 10

Article from June 1994 issue of In Step

Photo of most of the Fest City Singers in 1990

Credits: Programs and many other images from Jerry Johnson Collection in UWM Archives;
other items loaned to Milw. LGBT History Project and SAGE for PrideFest 2007.
Last updated: May-2007.