Out and About: Fly high with Warren County Farmers Fair & Balloon Fest


Where else can you view the countryside from high above during a hot air balloon ride, eat cotton candy on a carnival midway, watch traditional craftsmen at work, cheer on in a tractor pull and enjoy nightly musical entertainment?

The Warren County Farmers Fair, featuring the Hot Air Balloon Festival, has fun for the entire family from July 27 to August 3.

What started as a gathering of farmers, mechanics and manufacturers in 1859, evolved into the Warren County Farmers Fair in 1937, and it has grown into a huge annual event that offer something for everyone.

The fair is celebrating the 22nd annual Traditional Arts Expo, at which local traditional artists from area guilds will demonstrate their work.

This year marks the 19th year for the Hot Air Balloon Festival, with balloon rides, tethered rides and mass balloon launches every night. Wednesday night features the bicycle balloon race, a unique event where pilots and cyclists pair up in a race of skill and speed, raising funds for the Fred T. Grotenhuis Veterans Community Center. All balloon activity is weather permitting.

For those who appreciate a taste of country life and some good old-fashioned, down-home fun, the fair's series of power events include the Rafter Z Rodeo Bulls & Barrels, tractor and truck pulls, demolition derby and mud bogging.

There are farm events and exhibits, including an open horse show, pony rides, baking and canning exhibits, and 4-H/FFA exhibits.

Also on display are old cars, antique cars, trucks and tractors of all makes, sizes and ages. Saturday kicks off with the truck show. Sunday features a car show, sponsored by the Warren Hills FFA Alumni.

Entertainment includes Country Idol on Saturday; Adam Yarger and Lenny Martelli on Sunday; a talent show on Tuesday; Bobby Clark and The Play It Hard Band on Friday; and Leah Marie Fuls and band on August 3.

The kids corral offers shows, crafts, educational presenters, daily contests and clowning around with Merriloons. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children ages 5-12.

Hours are noon to 10 p.m. daily at Warren County Fairgrounds at 1350 Stryker Road in Harmony Township, three miles north of Phillipsburg.

For a complete schedule, go to www.warrencountyfarmersfair.org.

Step Back in Time in Berks Experience a hands-on history day with friends and family during Step Back in Time Day at the Berks County Heritage Center on Sunday.

See a Civil War encampment and medical program, enjoy period musical entertainment, browse historic arts and crafts, try interactive games and activities, and learn about the history of the regions on museum tours during the free event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In the colonial area, Ken Reinard will demonstrate colonial fly fishing; the Amity Colonial Dancers will perform period dances of the 18th and 19th centuries; models will show fashions worn in the 1700s and 1800s, and Joe and Dolores McDevitt will talk about life during the American Revolution.

In the Civil War area, there will be encampment demonstrations, infantry drills, cooking and camp life by the 53rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Co. C; field hospital and medicine display by the 4th Texas Confederate Co. B, as well as 19th-century games and children's drills.

Learn about life on the farm and explore Mildred the Houseboat, the Gruber Wagon Works, C. Howard Hiester Canal Center and Melcher's Grist Mill. Other demonstrations include Dutch oven cooking, flax skutching, wool processing and dyeing, ice cream making and candle dipping.

Music will be provided by Bob Mouland throughout the day; Ray Owen at 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. and The Great American Road Show at 2:30 p.m.

The Berks County Heritage Center is at 1102 Red Bridge Road in Bern Township. For information, call 610-374-8839 or go to co.berks.pa.us.

Tony Award-winning 'Avenue Q' to open in Bethlehem On Friday, Pennsylvania Playhouse opens the 2004 Tony Award Winning Broadway smash-hit "Avenue Q." The bawdy, but loving parody of famous children's programming, such as "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company," tells the story of Princeton, a freshly graduated and starry-eyed young man, who moves to the titular Avenue Q in New York on the eve of starting his first post-college job and hoping to discover his purpose in life.

He is introduced to the other residents who quickly become his friends and confidants. There are puppets Rod (a closeted, conservative Republican) and Nicky (his unmotivated, slacker roommate), the humans Brian (an aspiring, but awful, stand-up comedian) and his fiancée Christmas Eve (a highly intelligent Asian-American trying to establish herself as a therapist). There are also

"monsters" who live on Avenue Q – the sweet and intelligent Kate and the internet obsessed recluse Trekkie. This mash-up of cultures, races, and even species, is overseen by none other than television's Gary Coleman who, having lost his money and fame, serves as superintendent of the Avenue Q apartment.

Both puppets and humans interact with each other and discuss challenges, which would be too mature for children's television, such as racism, depression, homosexuality, sex, love, and even drug abuse. These topics, however, are explored with humor and music so that even the most mature topics will have the audience humming along.

"Avenue Q" features music and lyrics by Robert Lopez ("The Book of Mormon," "Frozen") and Jeff Marx and book by Jeff Whitty ("Can You Ever Forgive Me?").

The cast features Sebastian Paff as Princeton, Lexi Rastelli as Kate, Jonathan Riker as Rod, Joemichael Luciano as Nicky, Jesse Nitchkey as Brian, Christina Concilio as Christmas Eve, Catina "Peaches" Gordon as Gary Coleman, Christopher Camargo as Trekkie, Alessandra Fanelli as Lucy, Jeanie Olah as Mrs. Thistetwat and Nikola Georgievski and Abigail Simon as the Bad Idea Bears.

"Avenue Q" is directed by Clair M. Freeman with musical direction by Brian Foley and choreography by Joanellyn Schubert.

The musical is suggested for ages 14 and up due to the subject matter

Performances are 7:30 p.m. July 26-27, August 2-3, 9-10; 6 p.m. July 28, August 4 and 11, at Pennsylvania Playhouse, 390 Illicks Mill Road, Bethlehem.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $22 students and seniors Fridays and Sundays. For information, call 610-865-6665, or go to www.paplayhouse.org.

Extreme Shakespeare 'Henry IV, Part 1' at PSF

Following last season's "King Richard II," Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival presents the next chapter of Shakespeare's epic cycle with "Henry IV, Part 1."

The production will continue the tradition of concluding the season with "extreme Shakespeare," in the Schubert Theatre through August 4.

The irrepressible Falstaff, the prodigal Prince Hal, and the rebellious Hotspur navigate the shifting sands of allegiance in King Henry IV's England. Honor is at stake as commoners and kings, folly and duty collide in Shakespeare's richly layered coming-of-age tale. Prince Hal is called upon to emerge from the raucous hilarity of Falstaff and his antics at the Boar's Head Tavern to the valor of the battlefield, to earn his place as the next great ruler of this "sceptered isle."

In the "Extreme Shakespeare" tradition, this production will be rehearsed akin to the way Shakespeare's company would have, actors arrive with their lines learned, rehearse on their own, wear what they can find, and open in a matter of days. There are no director and no designers, just great actors.

John Ahlin, who played the role in the Festival's 2005 production, returns to perform the comedic Sir John Falstaff.

John Keabler will play King Henry IV, who must quash rebellion from his enemies foreign and domestic while trying to steer his son, Prince Hal, away from the influence of Falstaff.

Mairin Lee will return to PSF in the role of Prince Hal, and Kathryn Tkel will make her PSF debut in the role of Hotspur. Hal and Hotspur both represent a new generation of prospective rulers, and each navigate their future and potential leadership in King Henry IV's England.

"While women playing the roles of rising leaders was a driver in this casting choice, this is not a new idea," said Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director. "How did men playing women illuminate the text in the original Shakespeare productions of these plays? How will women playing roles written as men do the same in this production? Come join us to find out."

Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday to Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, through Aug. 4, in the Schubert Theatre, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University, 2755 Station Avenue, Center Valley. Tickets are $25-$46.

For information, call 610-282-9455, or go to pashakespeare.org.

'Legally Blonde the Musical' in Phillipsburg Phillipsburg Area Summer Youth Theatre will open "Legally Blonde the Musical" July 25 to 28 at Phillipsburg High School.

The award-winning musical is based on the 2001 comedy film based on Amanda Brown's novel of the same name, that starred Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, a sorority girl who enrolls at Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend.

The musical, which features music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hach, follows the transformation of Elle as she tackles stereotypes and scandal in pursuit of her dreams.

Although Elle seems to have it all, her life is turned upside down when her boyfriend Warner dumps her so he can attend Harvard Law School. Determined to get him back, Elle ingeniously charms her way into the prestigious law school. While there, she struggles with peers, professors and her ex. With the support of some new friends, though, Elle quickly realizes her potential and sets out to prove herself to the world.

The production is directed by Colette Boudreaux, with music direction by Jennifer Cagnassola and choreography by Brandon Hanks.

"Legally Blonde the Musical" is at 7 p.m. July 25-27 and 2 p.m. July 28, at Phillipsburg High School, 1 Stateliner Boulevard, Phillipsburg New Jersey.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. For information, go to www.showtix4u.com/events/14462.

Allentown Band presents 'Broadway and Beyond' The Allentown Band will present internationally recognized lyric tenor Eric Fennell and Curtis Institute of Music, Juilliard School of Music trained mezzo-soprano Lauren Curnow in "Broadway and Beyond," which showcases the most iconic music from Broadway, the opera world, and America's own Gershwin.

The show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Allentown's Miller Symphony Hall will feature music from "West Side Story," "Les Misérables," "Carmen," "Turandot" and more.

The program includes Fennell on "Maria" from "West Side Story;" "Bring Him Home" from "Les Misérables;" "Flower Song" from "Carmen;" "Love is Here to Stay," and "S'Wonderful" by George Gershwin and Cole Porter medley; and Curnow on Barbra Streisand songs; "Habanera" from "Carmen" and "Embraceable You," and "They Can't Take That Away from Me" by Gershwin.

The two singers will duet on "Climb Every Mountain" from "Sound of Music" and Puccini's "Nessun dorma."

The band will play selections from "Les Misérables;" symphonic dances from "West Side Story;" "March of the Toreadors" from "Carmen;" an Irving Berlin medley and a tribute to Jerome Kern.

Tickets are $20 to $35.

Miller Symphony Hall is at 23 North Sixth Street, Allentown. For information call 610-432-6715 or go to www.millersymphonyhall.org.

Pop-up exhibit in Boyertown Studio B Fine Art Gallery in Boyertown will host a pop-up exhibit featuring the artwork of Robin Kulp, Holly Anasiewicz, and Brittany Spicer entitled "Getting to Know Us." The exhibit opens 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday during Boyertown's monthly "Corks for a Cause" evening and will run through August 2.

Kulp, curator of the exhibit, is a senior art education major at Kutztown University minoring in art history and currently serving as an intern at Studio B. Kulp's oil and acrylic hyper-realistic still-life paintings showcase the technical skills she's practiced during her studies. She challenges her audience to look closely at art because, she notes, "sometimes what you first see isn't what it truly is."

Anasiewicz's photographs taken at the Borneo rainforest in Malaysia and in Thailand are designed to raise awareness of the deforestation the countries have been facing since the 1960s following extensive logging practices. Native orangutans rely on trees to escape predators and are now dangerously exposed in the bare areas of the forest.

Spicer's mixed media portraits capture human emotion and serve to showcase her desire to communicate the therapeutic benefits in creating art. Her goal is to own a studio where children who have experienced abuse or hard times are encouraged to work out their emotions through artistic expression.

The studio at 39A East Philadelphia Avenue, Boyertown, is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. For information go to studiobbb.org.

Butterflies with Rick Mikula at Nurture Nature Center Rick Mikula also known as "Butterfly Rick" has been raising butterflies and delighting audiences with his offbeat and humorous programs for over 35 years.

His free butterfly program from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Nurture Nature Center in Easton will show everyone from how to nurture and enjoy the butterflies and moths all around us using simple recycled household items.

The centerpiece of Nurture Nature Center is the Science on a Sphere program, one of a hundred in the world. The center occupies the second and third floors in a building that was one of Easton's first movie theaters located at 518 Northampton Street, Easton.

The science education center opened in 2011 to examine the environmental reasons behind flooding after Easton suffered its third major flood in a 22-month period.

Every Saturday, the community can see a general sphere demonstration on the globe, described as a "reverse planetarium," which creates a 360-degree image of natural phenomena like the tsunami, earthquakes, solar flares and the path of the Gulf stream.

The center is open noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

While there, check out the art on display in the galleries.

For information, call 610-253-4432 or go to nurturenaturecenter.org.

Racing zucchinis at Easton Farmers' Market The Lehigh Valley's hottest veggie race returns for its 13th year to Easton Farmers' Market on Saturday.

Get ready to squash the competition in the Zucchini 500, presented by the Greater Easton Development Partnership from 9 a.m. to noon in downtown Easton.

The entry fee of $5 for this fun and zany race includes your choice of zucchini, wheels and axles, commemorative racing necklace, and access to carving tools and accessories with expert assistance from the Zuke 500 Pit Crew.

Carving is from 9 to 10:45 a.m. and the race begins at 11 a.m. Prizes will be awarded for the fastest car in each category: sports car, mid-size and monster truck. Cars may be pre-carved, but wheels must be attached directly to zucchini. Chassis or platforms of any sort are strictly prohibited.

Don't forget to visit the Zucchini 500 photo station, where you can snap a picture of your friends or family in a zucchini car.

Easton Farmers' Market is at Centre Square, Northampton and Third streets, Easton.

For information, call 908-268-6039 or go to eastonfarmersmarket.com.