It was 5:30 p.m. Lehigh Valley residents and out-of-town tourists slowly started to arrive from their day jobs to Main Street in Bethlehem. It was time.
Musikfest officially kicked off on Friday evening, marking the start of ten days of food, drink, fun and, of course, great live music in downtown Bethlehem. As I walked down Main Street, there was a palpable energy in the air — the kind that could only be brought on by world-class live music in the summertime.
We kicked things off the same way Hotel Bethlehem Platz did — by taking in tunes from Alex Radus Trio. Radus’ combination of folk, jazz, and more was a smooth and welcome start to the festival.
After enjoying some of Radus’ great originals, I realized that, in a few minutes, Musikfest’s opening ceremonies would be beginning at Festplatz. I took a trip down to the big tent just in time for the National Anthem from East Stroudsburg student Lydia Johnson. That was followed by statements from local dignitaries, including ArtsQuest CEO Kassie Hilgert, Rev. Hopeton Clennon, and Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez. Honors were also presented to representatives from WFMZ, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, and McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub & Whiskey Bar to recognize the organizations for their years of contributions to Musikfest.
As the spirited opening ceremony gave way to setup for a tribute to the late “Jolly” Joe Timmer, I found myself unable to stick around — but only because I had to get to South Side. After all, a photo pass for the X Ambassadors show on the Sands Steel Stage was waiting for me, and I couldn’t wait to get down there. More on that later…