MUSIKFEST’S 30TH YEAR ATTRACTS NEARLY ONE MILLION PEOPLE
BETHLEHEM, PA—They came from Europe and the Caribbean, Manitoba and Michigan, New York and New Mexico, as well as throughout the Lehigh Valley. By the time the last note was played at Musikfest 2013, nearly one million people visited Bethlehem for the festival’s 30th year, enjoying more than 500 performances on 14 stages over 10 days.
The estimated attendance for Musikfest 2013 is 993,000, up approximately eight percent from 2012’s attendance of 920,000. In addition to attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from throughout the region, the festival welcomed guests from 40 other states, seven Canadian provinces, Puerto Rico and even Germany. Among the attendees were people travelling to the Lehigh Valley from as far away as California, Washington and Hawaii, as well as Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
“This year’s Musikfest lineup was probably one of the most diverse in our history, and while rain had an impact on a few days, the weather was definitely more favorable than the past two years,” says ArtsQuest President Jeff Parks. “These two factors, coupled with the minor changes we made to enhance the festival, resulted in a great experience for our guests and a good year for the festival overall. While we know that attendance was up, complete financial information will not be available until mid- to late-October.”
Musikfest, the largest free, non-gated music festival in the nation, took place Aug. 2-11, with concerts and performances by 340 artists including 13 performers from abroad. Among the many highlights were expanded rides and attractions at the Mutual of Omaha Banana Island family venue that drew large crowds; street performers who entertained guests at SteelStacks for the first time; the dedication of Third Street in south Bethlehem as “Linny’s Mile” in honor of the late Marlene “Linny” Fowler; and the Aug. 11 wedding of a couple who originally met at Musikfest. Other attractions included the new Oasis hospitality area at the Sands Steel Stage; a Color Me Rad race Aug. 3 that attracted 7,000 participants; and the inaugural Musikfest Volunteer Photography Exhibition, showcasing the work of eight photographers who lend a hand at the festival each year.
Approximately 41,000 people attended Musikfest’s 10 Sands Steel Stage concerts, enjoying sold-out shows by Darius Rucker and STYX & Foreigner, as well as dynamic performances by Ke$ha, Carly Rae Jepsen, Avenged Sevenfold, Peter Frampton & B.B. King, OneRepublic and more.
ArtsQuest Vice President of Performing Arts Patrick Brogan said attendance at the free stages at SteelStacks and the late-night comedy performances at the ArtsQuest Center continues to increase. At the same time, the original Musikfest venues such as Wells Fargo Festplatz and Pennsylvania Lottery Volksplatz drew large crowds for shows by artists such as Buckwheat Zydeco, Philadelphia Funk Authority, Start Making Sense, Strawberry Fields and The Red Elvises.
“The themed programming days at Wells Fargo Festplatz have been a huge hit, leading to a resurgence in popularity for this iconic Musikfest venue. This year we added a ’60s British Invasion Day and the Festplatz tent was packed with people all day long,” Brogan says.
“One of the main focuses of ArtsQuest’s mission is presenting opportunities for local and regional artists to perform,” Brogan adds. “This year’s festival included 98 performers and groups from the Lehigh Valley and surrounding region, accounting for approximately 29 percent of the overall lineup. From these talented local artists to the nationally touring acts who visited the festival, there was definitely something for everyone’s musical tastes.”
Helping to make Musikfest a memorable experience for the nearly one million guests were 1,800 volunteers and 125 corporate partners. The volunteers, which included two dozen 30-year volunteers and 50 corporate volunteer groups, donated 33,000 hours, with volunteers coming from Pennsylvania, as well as Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Ohio. On Aug. 2-3 and 6-7 the festival also had 32 Tunisian students lend a hand through Northampton Community College’s participation in the Community Colleges for International Development program.
“Two of our most amazing resources are our dedicated volunteers and the many national and local businesses and corporations that support Musikfest year in and year out,” says ArtsQuest Senior Vice President of Marketing and Advancement Kassie Hilgert. “Without their help, we simply would not be able to present this festival every year.
“ArtsQuest thanks its volunteers, corporate partners, ArtsQuest Members, performers, artisans, vendors, staff, the City of Bethlehem and, especially, the public for making this year’s festival a great success. It takes a tremendous effort from everyone involved, but the result is one of the largest and most affordable music festivals in the nation.”
In addition to the 500 music performances, Musikfest featured 60 food vendors and 45 artisans from throughout the region and around the nation.
“As a vendor at Musikfest for the past 13 years, I believe it would be difficult to find a more efficiently run festival, let alone one of this magnitude,” says Dave Emili, owner of the Allentown-based Aw Shucks Roasted Corn Inc. “The ArtsQuest staff works diligently with the vendors before, during and after the festival in order to present a gratifying and rewarding experience to all.”
Proceeds from Musikfest will go to support ArtsQuest’s free programming for the community year-round at SteelStacks and the Banana Factory community arts center.
“From the City’s perspective, it is clear this year’s Musikfest was a resounding success,” says Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan. “The festival is a great opportunity to showcase Bethlehem to a national and even international audience. It is an enormous undertaking to host the largest non-gated festival in the country, and I thank everyone – from police to the volunteers and all of the sponsors – who helped make it happen.”
Musikfest 2014 dates are Aug. 1-10, 2014. For more information, visit www.musikfest.org.