Looks like Musikfest has ended its 2014 run with better-than-average attendance.
While final numbers won’t be in until the end of the week, the annual music and arts festival, which is the largest free music festival in the nation, should have slightly higher attendance over last year, said Mark Demko, spokesman for ArtsQuest, the organization that runs the festival
But Demko said it didn’t always look like 2014 was going to be a banner year for the event that usually brings about 1 million people to the Lehigh Valley.
Just 10 days before Musikfest, organizers got terrible news. The main stage act on opening night – ZZ Top – canceled because of health problems of one of its members.
No main stage act on the event’s first night could have meant a huge dent in attendance, Demko said, but local music icon Craig Thatcher stepped in, new sponsors were secured and the main stage act went on as a free act.
Demko said this was the first time in 15 years the main stage act was a free performance. While the majority of Musikfest performances are free, the main act of the night is generally a ticketed performance.
With the well-known local name performing for free, more than 4,000 people showed up for the main stage performance, Demko said.
In fact, Demko said, with a wide range of performances including a sold-out Keith Urban show Sunday night, the main stage performances brought in more than 47,000 people. That’s up from the 41,000 the main stage acts drew in 2013.
Of course, a good deal of the credit for a successful year goes to good ol’ Mr. Sunshine, Demko said.
“Certainly the single biggest factor we face with attendance is the weather, and this year we had nearly perfect weather,” he said.
And while the music might be over – at least as far as Musikfest is concerned – organizers are still hoping to take in a few more dollars.
ArtsQuest is having a sale of Musikfest 2014 merchandise, including mugs and apparel, with everything half off through 7 tonight at the SteelStacks Center on South Side Bethlehem.