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‘Connection, Community and Great Weather’

Photo Courtesy: Jeff Auger

39th annual Musikfest wraps with record-breaking attendance

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Shortly after Grammy-award winning Olga Tañón wrapped up her performance on the Wind Creek Steel Stage Sunday, Aug. 14, Musikfest attendees and those throughout the city turned their eyes to the sky. Enthusiasm built through the crowd, all pausing for just one more Musikfest moment: that moment coming via the sights and sounds of its annual fireworks display.

“I’m grateful to the community for the overwhelming, and continued support of Musikfest,’” ArtsQuest President and CEO Kassie Hilgert said. “All throughout the festival –more and more folks from volunteers to patrons – made it obvious how connected they are to Musikfest. It’s that sense of connection, that makes what we do with Musikfest here in Bethlehem so special each year. None of what we do would be possible without our ‘extended family’ of performers, patrons, staff, dedicated volunteers, sponsors, members, local businesses, law enforcement, the City of Bethlehem and community leaders. That’s what is so special about Musikfest, everyone is genuinely vested.”

According to Hilgert, there’s no doubt that the festival is well-loved, noting that 2022 was a record attendance year for the nation’s largest free music festival, drawing some 1,240,000 attendees from 39 states, Washington, DC, and eight countries. The previous record was 1,226,000 in 2019.

This year’s festival featured approximately 500 unique performances across 16 free stages, mouthwatering food, interactive displays and so much more! Highlights of this year’s ‘fest included headlining acts Boyz II Men, Kip Moore, Willie Nelson & Family, Poison, Ziggy Marley, Counting Crows, among others.

After nearly a decade, the festival returned to Payrow Plaza, providing attendees in Bethlehem’s Northside an additional concert venue: Stadtplatz, with free performances daily from 5-10 p.m. Musikfest also debuted a brand-new Wind Creek Steel Stage this year.  Designed by Mountain Productions and built by local IATSE 200 labor force, the familiar stage design has been used at many events such as Rolling Loud and Firefly.

For Catasauqua singer-song writer Melody Cruz, this year’s Musikfest has been nothing short of phenomenal. “This year Musikfest has been exhilarating,” said Cruz, who first attended the festival in 2004 to support her grandparents and mother who were performing, before making her first appearance as a performer in 2021. "Number one, I felt super lucky and grateful that all of the performances were still on. I could tell this year that people were coming out and taking in a performance and then returning to another performance helping to increase my fanbase. I could tell this year that people really came out, supporting and responding to Musikfest. I could feel the energy and the love.”

Musikfest featured 140 corporate sponsors, more than two dozen artisans/retailers and nearly 40 food vendors. 

“The community definitely came out in droves,” Russell Fletcher, CEO and Founder of Mishka Premium Vodka said. “I feel like the community support is here at Musikfest. We are in 10 of the largest cities in PA and from a Lehigh Valley perspective, we had community come out and it was a great experience for us. Even our followers and supporters from Philly and Lancaster all came out to the festival; our arts director from Brooklyn even came out. Musikfest gave a great proving ground for our cocktails, and we’re looking forward to expanding it next year. Musikfest gave us an opportunity to grow awareness of our brand.”

Musikfest is made possible thanks to the support of the city, the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority, Bethlehem Area School District, Northampton County, Lehigh County, the support of the corporate community, and more than 1,000 volunteers and 2,000 supporting members.

“Musikfest once again reminded us of the happiness, vibrancy, and energy that is a central part of Bethlehem’s identity,” Bethlehem Mayor J. Williams Reynolds said. “Thank you to the volunteers, staff, musicians, small businesses, and public safety personnel who helped to give us another special 10 days in our community. We are counting down the days till we can ‘Fest again.”

The next Musikfest is set for Aug. 4 – 13, 2023. Visit musikfest.org for more information. Aside from Musikfest, ArtsQuest provides countless opportunities for the community to enjoy, year-round, including different musical, artistic, cultural and educational experiences on its campus at the SteelStacks and Banana Factory. To ensure the future of ArtsQuest, visit artsquest.org/donate.

About ArtsQuest
ArtsQuest’s mission is to provide access to exceptional artistic, cultural and educational experiences using arts and culture as key elements of economic development for our urban communities. ArtsQuest™ supports this mission via the presentation of performing and visual arts, film, arts education classes and outreach, youth programming and cultural events.

Through festivals such as its flagship event, Musikfest; the Banana Factory Arts Center; and the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks arts and cultural campus, ArtsQuest’s programming reaches more than 1.9 million people annually. The organization’s programs and events, approximately 50 percent of which are free to attend, have a combined economic impact of more than $136 million annually in the region. ArtsQuest is a proud member of NIVA, the National Independent Venue Association and NATO, the National Association of Theatre Owners.