Each summer, the Minnesota Orchestra unbuttons starched collars, trades in pumps for flipflops and throws bratwurst on the grill. Graydon Royce asked the orchestra about the warm-weather party, which starts Friday.

How many people show up? Between 25,000 and 30,000, many of whom have never seen a Minnesota Orchestra concert.

How many brats do they eat? The popular Marktplatz in Peavey Plaza serves about 5,000 a year, plus other sausages from Kramarczuk's, salads and light French meals from Vincent, and Häagen-Dazs ice cream.

Weirdest moment: Pianist Garrick Ohlsson's adjustable bench once sprung a leak in midperformance and began dripping hydraulic fluid onto the stage. He turned to the audience and said, "I've never before had an incontinent piano bench."

Messiest promotion: An elephant was marched along Nicollet Mall to launch one fest in the mid-1990s. Staff members still talk about the job of cleaning up after it.

This year's largest ensemble: 150 musicians, singers and dancers, performing Verdi's "La Traviata" Aug. 2.

The smallest: One -- comedian Martin Short, performing a one-man show to end the fest Aug. 3.

What can I do for free? Macy's Day of Music kicks off Sommerfest Friday and Saturday, featuring 300 performers in 40-plus performances on six stages, including a Minnesota Orchestra concert at 8 p.m. Friday. Each Sommerfest concert is preceded by free music on Peavey Plaza, plus after-concert music outdoors on Friday and Saturday nights.