BETHLEHEM-Musikfest opens for 35th year
The country’s largest free music festival is celebrating its 35th year.
In the big tent at Festplatz Friday evening, ArtsQuest CEO Kassie Hilgert energized the early crowd with palpable excitement during the opening ceremony. “I think it’s time to get this started!” she shouted. By “this” she meant a brief ceremony honoring so many years of success and those who have made it possible, namely former Mayor Paul Marcincin and 13 volunteers who have participated in every single Musikfest.
Hilgert announced that the Musikfest Founders Award, created in 2003 to recognize community partners’ contributions to the event, would be renamed the Marcincin Award in his honor. “Without Mr. Marcincin’s efforts working with city council and various city departments to provide support and infrastructure for the inaugural Musikfest, we would not be here to present these awards every year. It’s our privilege and great honor to rename the Founders Awards for this dynamic community leader who forever left his mark on our festival and our city.”
Terry Marcincin, Paul’s son, said, “Our father’s undeniable affinity for Musikfest was deeply rooted. He loved the music, dancing and eating, but most of all how the festival brings together the community.”
Hilgert said when Marcincin first broached the idea at city hall, every department head said it was a bad idea, but he fought for it, saying, “No, I think this is what we need right now.”
Said Terry Marcincin, “Ladies and gentlemen, it worked.”
Musikfest began in 1984 as a collaboration between Jeff Parks, Mayor Marcincin, business sponsors and volunteers to bring a time of family-friendly and affordable public entertainment to a city suffering from the decay of the steel industry.
Since then, Musikfest has swelled from 295 acts on six stages assisted by 350 volunteers to more than 500 acts on 16 stages, employing 1,500 volunteers to assist more than a million visitors from all around the world.