Lehigh Valley

Organizers: Musikfest attendance rises

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Musikfest 2014 is now in the history books, and thanks to nearly perfect weather, organizers expect a slight increase in attendance over last year.

"The weather was awesome, so I think this year there was definitely a lot more people around," said attendee Steve Evasic of Bethlehem.

 Musikfest spokesman Mark Demko said the final numbers won't be in for a few days, but he expects a modest bump over last year's total of 993,000 visitors over the 10-day run.

"The single biggest variable we have every year is Mother Nature and the weather," he said.

The crowds came in spite of two separate gunfire incidents just off the festival grounds that dominated news coverage. 

In the most recent case, Bethlehem Police say a teenager shot into a crowd on Garrison Street, striking two people.  That suspect, Julius Jose Cortijo, 17, turned himself into police on Sunday.  He's in jail under $1 million bond.

 "I know some of it is gang-related," said festival-goer Laurie Hammond of Bethlehem.  "I see it in the schools; it's a shame."

This week, Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio issued an internal memo calling for a crackdown on rowdy teenagers at Musikfest.

"We'll sit down and look at every single element of the festival afterward and evaluate everything," Demko said.

Demko said the focus will be on addressing concerns about underage visitors while maintaining the kind of open, fun environment that draws so many people to Musikfest in the first place.

"I don't know if there's a great way to crack down on that unless you're going to stop everyone who's carrying something around in a bottle," Evasic said.

"Having everybody walk through a metal detector, it's insane," added Tom Greco of Harleysville.  "You couldn't do something like that."

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