Musikfest: ‘A catalyst that brings us together’
Musikfest commenced its 33rd year with an opening ceremony at Wells Fargo Festplatz on the north side of Bethlehem Aug. 5.
Declared the “largest Musikfest ever” by ArtsQuest President and CEO Kassie Hilgert, this year’s festival will feature 387 artists from 20 states and seven countries and will bring in $60 million for the city and region.
Hilgert thanked everyone involved for making the festival possible year after year, including the Musikfest staff, more than 1,500 volunteers, corporate partners, elected officials and residents of Bethlehem.
“Musikfest happens because the community supports this festival,” Hilgert said.
Mayor Bob Donchez elaborated on the size of this year’s festival, mentioning the 550 musical and artistic performances, 15 stages and 36 food vendors, while reminding listeners how special Musikfest is.
“Thirty-three years ago, Musikfest started with humble roots, not even sure that there would be a year two. But here we are today, the largest free music festival in America,” Donchez said. “Each year, Musikfest is a catalyst that brings us together to share our great city with people from all over the country and the world.”
Following Mayor Donchez, ArtsQuest Board of Trustees Chair Gregg Feinberg presented Founders Awards to sponsors and organizations that have helped make the festival’s 33 years possible.
The first award was presented to 69 WFMZ TV for being an official broadcast partner of Musikfest and for its support and coverage of ArtsQuest events year round.
“Musikfest is one of the really positive things that has been an everlasting change for over 33 years,” said WFMZ manager Barry Fisher, accepting the award. “I’m thoroughly impressed with what happens every year and we’re proud to be a part of it.”
Julia Corwin accepted the second award on behalf of the Sands Resort of Bethlehem. Feinberg acknowledged the Sands’ 11 years of supporting Musikfest and ArtsQuest and the donation of 10 acres of land that now make up the SteelStacks campus.
The final award was given to Neville Gardner, owner of Donegal Square, for his 18-year support of Musikfest and his continual promotion of local businesses and economic development in the city.
Hilgert took the microphone again, explaining that the location change of the opening ceremony from the ArtsQuest center on the Southside back to Festplatz on the north side was to honor the tradition of Musikfest by returning to the festival’s origins.
With well wishes to the festival-goers already filling the streets, Hilgert closed the opening ceremony.
“I hope that the next 10 days you enjoy all the hard work and effort that I have watched our staff and our volunteers and this entire community put together for the last 355 days. I thank you always for your support and we hope you have a wonderful Musikfest,” Hilgert said. “Let the festival begin.”