MUSIKFEST RETURNS BOOSTING LEHIGH VALLEY ECONOMY, COMMUNITY
Credit: Jeff Auger
Amid economic challenges, the nonprofit ArtsQuest hosted a successful Musikfest.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Musikfest, which kicked off on Aug. 5 with a sold-out crowd on preview night, came together in record time this year thanks to the flexibility of artists, the need from local businesses and a strong partnership with the city of Bethlehem.
“More people than ever stopped me during Musikfest and said, ‘we needed this,’” ArtsQuest President and CEO Kassie Hilgert said. “A few months ago, we did not even know if we would be able to have Musikfest. To see it all come together has been incredible. None of this would be possible without the hard work of our team, hundreds of dedicated volunteers, sponsors, members and local businesses and community leaders.”
This year’s festival featured approximately 500 free performances from more than 300 musical artists, providing paying gigs for musicians after a challenging year and a half in the industry. Highlights of this year’s ‘fest included headlining acts Darius Rucker, Zedd, Sam Hunt, Shinedown, Phillip Phillips, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jimmie Allen, Colin Hay Band, The Wood Brothers, Black Violin, Hector Tricoche and Michael Stuart. Overall, an estimated 1,127,000 people attended the festival.
“After spending a year apart, Highmark Blue Shield was thrilled to once again be a supporter of Musikfest and couldn’t be happier to see it return to an in-person celebration in 2021," Jane Brooks of Highmark Blue Shield said. "We recognize how art and music are vital contributors to the overall health of the community and look forward to seeing this event bring people together for years to come in the future.”
Musikfest featured 150 corporate sponsors, more than two dozen artisans/retailers and more than 30 food vendors. In addition to the slew of new food vendors, fest goers also enjoyed delicious dishes from the new Palette & Pour restaurant on the first floor of the ArtsQuest Center. For the first time in Musikfest’s nearly 40-year history, food and beverage tickets were no longer needed and credit/debit cards were accepted throughout festival grounds.
“We were happy to be part of Musikfest this year,” Brynn Levine, Marketing Manager at Historic Hotel Bethlehem said. “This is probably the best Musikfest we could have expected in 2021. It was great to see the community come together and to see everyone coming downtown for the occasion.”
In 2021, Musikfest also introduced The Inclusion Zone, a sensory-supportive space that provided services, tools and amenities to benefit individuals with sensory-processing difficulties of all ages and abilities. Alongside regular programming, in honor of those impacted by COVID-19, ArtsQuest and New Bethany Ministries joined forces to present Poppies of Remembrance, Lanterns of Hope. Artists were asked to #PauseTheMusik and red lanterns illuminated in honor of those we lost, those still struggling and those fighting on the frontlines of the pandemic. Proceeds benefited both organizations.
This year’s original Musikfest poster painting, created by Pennsylvania artist Mandy Martin, was auctioned off and all proceeds will benefit The Fund for Racial Justice and Equity (FRJE) powered by the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
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 is a tradition unlike any other and we are proud to partner with ArtsQuest year after year,” Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez said. “It is an honor to see our community come together once again to support small business, tourism and economic development.”
The next Musikfest is set for Aug. 5 – 14, 2022. 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.