Friday, October 6, 2017

Bethlehem: the City of Festivals

Bob Begliomini RPh, Pharm D, MBA , FASHP
Lehigh Valley Health Network, Bethlehem Chamber Chair

Although Bethlehem’s nickname is Christmas City USA, we have another moniker that is used often; the City of Festivals. It used to be that “Festival Season” in Bethlehem was from the June to the first week in October. The South Side Film Festival, Blueberry Festival, Musikfest, the Celtic Classic and Harvest Festival were the festivals that people traveled to Bethlehem to attend. Once the ArtsQuest Center was built, the amount of festivals in Bethlehem increased ten-fold. Sabor! Latin Festival, Oktoberfest, Blast Furnace Blues, RiverJazz and so many more were added. You cannot shake a stick in Bethlehem without finding a festival. There were fears that the amount of new festivals would affect attendance in the old festivals, but that has not proven to be the situation.

Take the case of Harvest Festival on Main Street and Oktoberfest at Steel Stacks. Both festivals are held on the same weekend; the second weekend in October (although Oktoberfest occupies both the first and second weekend of October). Both have plenty of beer to purchase and sample, food to buy and both have music to enjoy….and both festivals thrive. It takes a few years to build an audience and to have the word spread about any festival. It usually takes five years before you can decide whether or not it is going to make it. So what is great about both festivals is that they have their own committed audience, but there is also cross-pollination…which is great for both the Downtown Bethlehem Association and Artsquest. Everybody CAN get along.

The DBA’s Harvest Festival is in its 14th year and will be held Saturday, October 7. It is a lovely one-day festival that has attractions for children, millennials, empty-nesters and everyone in between. You can purchase beer, wine and soup tasting passports by going to www.getdowntownbetlehem.com. Proceeds from this festival go to help fund marketing efforts for our Historic Moravian Downtown Shopping District.

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