Sean Weitner and JM Rasmus, puzzle masters and creators of The Rackenfracker, have created a crossword puzzle around Summerfest. “The Song of the Summer” isn’t a straightforward crossword puzzle through, it’s a cryptic crossword. This puzzle has five answers that you can only determine once finishing the rest of the puzzle. After completing those, the final answer will be revealed.
Weitner contrasts cryptic crosswords to regular crosswords explaining that cryptic crosswords have more riddles and word play in the questions rather than plain trivia. He also says that not only are the clues riddles, but there is also a deeper mystery involved.
“[When creating the puzzle] I started with a secret and worked my way back, and that led me to Summerfest. And we are from Wisconsin, right? So it was very serendipitous for it to have worked out that way,” Weitner says.
Some of these cryptic clues include “Scare off those who get straight As?” and “It’s fundamental to integrity!”
Although those clues may sound difficult, being advanced cryptic crossword puzzlers, Weitner and Rasmus both have acquired several tips and tricks to help people solve a cryptic crossword more easily. They created a how-to-guide attached to the downloadable PDF of the puzzle that’s filled with hints on how to flip questions, find the answers and determine what type of wordplay each clue may be indicating.
“One of the best parts of Summerfest is the fact that, you know, everybody gets to come together, right? Everyone comes together and they see these shows. That’s the thing that’s the best tip for solving a cryptic crossword,” Rasmus says. “One person can get railroaded in and another person looks at it from just a different, slightly different perspective and they can see a scene that the other person didn’t get.”
Both authors being from Wisconsin, they wanted to lean into their Wisconsin heritage and history when creating this puzzle, so Rasmus says they made the puzzle as broadly applicable to Wisconsinites as possible. Part of that included making references to the beer culture that exists in the state.
“We’ve got something that could really speak to Milwaukeeans and get them to take the bait – and not everyone’s going to fall for it, but those that do I think are gonna find a new lifelong hobby,” Weitner says.
Once people start playing and figuring out cryptic crosswords, Weitner predicts it’s easier for the puzzles to become a hobby. He says all it takes is that first taste.
“I think there will be a significant chunk of people who will find that this scratches an itch they have for that kind of puzzling dopamine burst,” Weitner says. “We think that they’re going to find this and really enjoy it.”