Out and About

Out and About: Festivals across region start off August with a bang

For nearly seven years, my colleague, Susan Kalan, has done an outstanding job writing about the arts in the region for her weekly "Arts Around Town" blog. Now, as I take over the reins, we are debuting a new name for the blog – "Out and About" – reflecting a sightly broader focus. But don't worry, the arts will always play a large role as we look at what's happening in the coming week.

Music and art at Musikfest

The beginning of August always means one thing. Musikfest – the nation's largest free music festival – takes over Bethlehem.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the festival now boasts more than 500 free music and art performances at 18 venues over the 10-day festival spread across Bethlehem's historic district and SteelStacks, the arts and cultural campus on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant.

Musikfest features high-profile, ticketed concerts at Sands Steel Stage by national acts, including Kesha, Daughtry, Styx, Joan Jett and Jason Mraz. But it is the free concerts, 40-plus food vendors, 45 artisans, performance artists and unique art attractions that draw the crowds.

Returning, after making its debut last year, is the amazing Architects of Air luminarium, an inflatable walk-through sculpture created by a United Kingdom design firm. The monumental installation has been set up in 40 countries, and more than two million people have explored the tunnels and cavernous spaces that are colorfully illuminated with natural light. It's not to be missed.

Also returning to Musikfest, after a hit visit in 2016, is Living Vines, a unique performance art in which performers on stilts are costumed to look like greenery. The performers attach themselves to a wall or post and then slowly move away from the structure, surprising people who think they are actual foliage. Look for Living Vines performances at Volksplatz.

There are also plenty of great musical performances at Musikfest's 16 stages, from the gypsy jazz of the Squirrel Nut Zippers to the comedic rock of We Are Scientists. And you never know when you'll chance upon a busker doing heavy metal magic or fire stunts. There truly is a little bit of everything at Musikfest.

Musikfest hours are 5-11 p.m. August 3 and noon to 11 p.m. August 4-12.

For a complete list of performers, go to www.musikfest.org.

Cars, cars and more cars

From the largest music festival to the country's largest antique and classic car show, Das Awkscht Fescht fills Macungie Memorial Park in Lehigh County for three days with more than 2,500 cars from model Ts to muscle cars. This year's featured car is the Packard, one of the first classic American luxury cars. Running for more than 50 years, Das Awks Fescht features 42 acres of not only antique and classic cars, trucks and motorcycles, but also arts, crafts and Pennsylvania Dutch specialty food. An indoor and outdoor collectible toy show runs in conjunction with the Fescht, at nearby Eyer Middle School.

Other activities include "Pit At The Park," a barbecue cook-off sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, children's activities and entertainment, such as jugglers, magicians and clowns, and a fireworks show Saturday night.

Bands from country to rock play throughout the weekend. Featured are local favorites from the blues of Craig Thatcher to the 1960s sounds of the Large Flowerheads.

Gates open at 6 a.m. and cars enter after 7:30 a.m. August 3-5. Entertainment goes until 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $9 for adults and free for ages 15 and under.

For a schedule and information go to awkscht.com.

Drum and Bugle Corp

One of the biggest events on the Drum Corps International circuit takes place this weekend at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown.

The 2018 DCI Eastern Classic features performances by world-class competitive drum and bugle corps Friday and Saturday in one of the final events of the DCI Summer Tour - called "marching music's major league" - before the DCI World Championships August 6-11 in Indianapolis.

The elite drum and bugle corps, which include Allentown's own Cadets as well as defending champions the Blue Devils from Concord, California, perform tightly choreographed routines featuring spinning flags, percussive drum beats and perfectly executed marching lines.

The Cadets, a program of Youth Education in the Arts of Allentown, are one of the oldest operating groups in Drum Corps International. The Cadets, 10-time DCI World Champions, placed seventh last year and are looking to reclaim their title with their dynamic program "The Unity Project," which rhythmically traces the evolution from dis-junction to cohesion.

They are facing the Blue Devils, who have won the DCI championship a record 18 times.

The Blue Devils perform, along with other corps Friday, and the Cadets perform Saturday. Also Friday, there will be an exhibition by the Cadets2, an all-age Allentown feeder drum and bugle corps for the Cadets.

Performances starts at 6 p.m. August 3 and 6:30 p.m. August 4. General admission tickets are $37. For information go to www.dci.org.

'Seize the Day' at Phillipsburg Area Summer Youth Theatre

High energy music and dancing will light up the stage when Phillipsburg Area Summer Youth Theatre presents the Disney hit musical "Newsies" this weekend.

Based on the 1992 film and inspired by a true story, "Newsies" features a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken with classic songs like "Carrying the Banner," "Seize the Day," and "Santa Fe."

Set in turn-of-the century New York City, "Newsies" follows Jack Kelly, who leads a group of scrappy newsboys who become unlikely heroes when they rally forces to fight an unscrupulous newspaper tycoon. When the publisher of the New York World raises prices at the newsboys' expense, Jack rallies newsboys from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions.

PASYT was founded in 1996 to bring youth and adults together through the performing arts and has become a summer staple of the community. The musical features a large cast of young people and lots of athletic stage-filling dancing.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Shows are 7 p.m. Aug. 2, 3, 4 and 2 p.m. August 5 at Phillipsburg High School, 1 Stateliner Boulevard, Phillipsburg, New Jersey. For information call 866-967-8167 or go to www.PASYT.org.

The Great Reading Fair kicks off Sunday

It's fair time at the Reading Fairgrounds. Whether you go to look at the farm animals and agricultural displays or head to the main stage for entertainment and the beer garden, there's plenty to do at the Reading Fair August 5 though 11.

Gasp at the daily stunt motorcycle shows by The Fearless Flores Family, who were featured on the sixth season of "America's Got Talent," or enjoy a bird's eye view of the Berks County countryside with a helicopter ride through Sky River Helicopter Tours.

Nightly music of all styles includes Billy Bauer Band's "Dave Matthews" show; the jazz/funk of Philadelphia Funk Authority; the 70s vibe of Pagoda City All Stars and The Blues Brotherhood "Blues Brothers" tribute show.

On the race track, watch tractor and truck pulls, as well as all types of racing from motorcycles to go-karts. For the little ones, there is a midway with rides and a "Paint the Rain Barrel and Help Conserve our Natural Resources" presentation and activity.

Don't miss the fireworks show the final night. Hours are 1-8 p.m. August 5; 4-10 p.m. August 6,-7 and 9-10 and 1-10 p.m. August 8 and 11. Admission is $5, $4 for seniors and military, and free for kids 36 inches and under. The Reading Fairgrounds are at 1216 Hilltop Road in Bern Township.

For schedule and information go to www.thereadingfair.org.

Celebrate the 80th anniversary of Hopewell Furnace

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site has been celebrating its 80th birthday all summer, and it all culminates on Saturday, August 4, when the park celebrates Establishment Day with free activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy games, junior ranger programs, casting and molding demonstrations, interactive charcoal-making demonstrations and costumed interpreters who will explain the workings of the furnace and light the charcoal pile. Festivities even include a birthday cake.

The event celebrates August 3, 1938, when acting Secretary of the Interior Ebert K. Burlew designated 214 acres of land in southeastern Pennsylvania as Hopewell Village National Historic Site.

Anniversary activities continue the following weekend with the Valley Forge Black Pots chapter of the International Dutch Oven Society cooking outdoors using cast iron Dutch ovens August 11 and a lecture on the Mid-Atlantic Aerospace Museum by speaker Ron Gosdeck at 2 p.m. August 12.

The park is located at 2 Mark Bird Lane, off Route 345, in Union Township, about 6.5 miles south of Birdsboro. For information on activities go to www.nps.gov/hofu/planyourvisit/calendar.htm.

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