Dancers from the Indian Summer festival in Milwaukee


  • The Milwaukee metro area is a melting pot of cultural, ethnic and social groups. Diversity is widely celebrated through annual events, festivals and folk fairs. These groups blend together, providing Milwaukee residents with a unique sense of community.  Approximately 38% of the region’s residents have some German ancestry, but a blend of other ethnic groups including African (16%), Polish (13%), Irish (10%), Scandinavian (7%), English (5%), French, Italian and Hispanic (each at 4%) are also represented. The region was originally inhabited by the Meskwaki (Fox), Mascouten, Potawatomi, and Ho-Chunk native American tribes in the early 1800s, so there is also a rich tradition of native tribes in the community. The majority of Milwaukee residents were born in the region. Thus, pride in Milwaukee’s community and one’s own cultural heritage is a common characteristic among residents.

    Ethnic festivals play a considerable role in the region’s economy. Some of the major festivals include  African World FestivalFesta ItalianaGerman FestIndian SummerIrish FestMexican Fiesta, and  Polish Fest. More than 500,000 people attend these events annually to celebrate each ethnic and cultural group through unique music, foods and entertainment. Milwaukee is one of the top cultural arts communities in the region, nationally ranked for cultural arts by an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Arts. For education, the Milwaukee metro also offers a selection of recognized, accredited public and private school options for families, while showcasing a dozen four-year colleges and universities.