The totals are in.
The nation’s largest nongated free music festival and a significant economic driver for the Greater Lehigh Valley, Musikfest topped 1.1 million in attendance for its run from Aug. 1-10.
Featuring live music on 14 stages throughout Bethlehem and nearly 350 artists, 65 vendors and 45 artisans from around the nation, attendance hit a near-record of 1,150,000, up more than 15 percent from 2013. The record attendance was set in 2008 and 2009 with 1,152,000.
Situated throughout Bethlehem’s historic Moravian and SouthSide Arts districts, the festival is the flagship event of ArtsQuest, a nonprofit arts organization in Bethlehem, with the proceeds of the event to benefit ArtsQuest ventures, including the Banana Factory community arts center in South Bethlehem.
“Musikfest gives Bethlehem the opportunity for 10 days to showcase our history, culture, restaurants and retail establishments,” Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez said. “It is 10 days where people can enjoy all types of food, music and entertainment, while enjoying the many amenities Bethlehem has to offer.”
With ideal weather, patrons visited Musikfest from across the nation, as well as from around the globe. People from 43 states, as well as from nations such as Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile and England, attended the festival.
“This year, Mother Nature truly shined on us, as we had the best weather in many years,” said ArtsQuest President Jeff Parks. “The comfortable evenings and sunny skies on many days, coupled with the diverse festival lineup, led to excellent crowds on a number of days.”
Attendance was up at the Sands Steel Stage also, the festival’s premium stage, which featured nightly nationally known recording artists, including Keith Urban, The Moody Blues and Steely Dan, with 46,919 people attending the shows. This included 4,100 attendees at the opening-night Craig Thatcher Band with Mike Dugan concert, the first free show at the Musikfest main stage in 15 years.
Musikfest comes to fruition each year with the support of the City of Bethlehem, the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority and thousands of volunteers, supporting members and corporate partners. This year, more than 1,800 volunteers, some from as far away as California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Tennessee and Virginia, 2,100 supporting ArtsQuest members and 160 sponsors came together to make things happen.
“This was without a doubt the best Musikfest of the past several years,” said Bruce Haines, managing partner at Historic Hotel Bethlehem. “For 10 days each August, our hotel and staff embrace the artistic and creative personality of Musikfest.”