Where We Live: You don’t have to go far to find some fun times
By Chris Reber
A free festival which draws thousands of people must be the envy of every community in eastern Pennsylvania.
Not only does it boost the town’s economy during the festival, it’s also helped fund nonprofits which support the arts year-round.
It’s like the town’s fair, bazaar and church carnivals all rolled into one. You can’t help but be impressed by the organization it must take to put together such an event.
But you don’t have to drive an hour each way to the Lehigh Valley in order to enjoy music.
While there’s no single event which defines the area quite like Musikfest does Bethlehem, the variety of grassroots events is something which few other areas can match.
In a given weekend, local fire companies, social clubs and organizations are celebrating and welcoming the public to join them.
Unlike Musikfest, the fun continues year-round. And the parking situation isn’t nearly as torturous.
I was at Musikfest to see the Wallace Brothers Band. They play all around the region, but an annual set at Musikfest is a regular gig. I felt bad that I missed them when they played a few weeks ago just a few minutes away from my house at a festival at the Lithuanian Homestead in Lehighton. It was a good reminder that good entertainment doesn’t necessarily mean a drive to the Lehigh Valley.
We do lots of previews for events, but I will admit that on my day off, I don’t always take advantage of many local events which take place here in Carbon County.
During the summer months there is something every weekend in one of the county’s small towns — the Summit Hill Hootenanny, Weissport’s Redneck Festival, Palmerton Community Festival and Lansford’s Music in the Park all provide live entertainment.
There are so many events that there is always steady work for hardworking local bands like Mystery City, Toolshed Jack and Becky and the Beast (with apologies to all of the other great local bands who perform regularly in this area).
There are bigger events which aspire to be a regional draw for tourists, like the Carbon County Fair and Jim Thorpe Fall Festival. The Jim Thorpe Tourism Agency and Carbon County Fair Committee have both done a great job marketing our area to the greater region while retaining the character and local flavor of Carbon County. Plus, the fair has animals!
Even in the dead of winter, our three ski mountains are holding events like the Cardboard Classic and Blue Mountain’s Winter Fest.
When you attend a block party or a community festival, the money you spend goes directly into local organizations. The food is usually made from recipes which have been passed down through generations. It’s not overpriced and underwhelming like at other festivals. Try to find pierogies, halushki and bleenies at Musikfest. They may have them, but they won’t be homemade like the St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church in Lansford, which you can get at Lansford Alive’s Ethnic Festival.
The volunteerism and spirit of community which supports our local festivals is what makes this area special.
While many areas aspire to have a festival on par with Musikfest, it’s important to remember that there’s always good entertainment around the corner.