My introduction to Musikfest came in 1985 as a freshman at Lehigh University. At the time, Musikfest was scheduled for the week before classes started. Freshmen were required to arrive on campus a few days before upperclassmen for orientation. Not only was I becoming acquainted with college life, I was also being introduced to Bethlehem. Musikfest became a part of my college experience.
My first year to attend Musikfest was only the second year of the event. I remember being able to explore the streets of downtown Bethlehem by walking down the middle the temporary pedestrian highways. The abundance of food and beverages, especially beer, was everywhere. The main attraction of Musikfest was obviously the music. There was loud and mellow music. There was national and international music. There was obscure and well-known music. The diversity of the sounds was enough to please almost every musical taste.
Musikfest became synonymous with my return to the Lehigh University campus each year as a student. It marked the end of my summer before the rigors of my academic responsibilities started for the semester. When I graduated, I continued my annual pilgrimage to Bethlehem for Musikfest. It became an opportunity to get together with college friends.
My wife Stephanie and I made attending Musikfest a regular date every August. I remember us listening to Eddie Money sing his hit songs “Two Tickets To Paradise” and “Take Me Home Tonight” one year. We always looked forward to the final night that featured a brilliant fireworks extravaganza. We would join the patchwork of blankets on the lawn by the public library with our picnic basket of snacks and wine.
In 2002, we moved to Plano, TX. It has been many years since we’ve attended Musikfest. The event holds special memories for us. We miss the sights and sounds that are unique to the summertime tradition in Bethlehem. We miss spotting The Chicken Lady. We miss randomly meeting people that we know. We miss the variety of music. We miss meat-on-a-stick. We miss laying on a blanket and looking up at the fireworks dancing over the Lehigh river.
Michael Kirkpatrick on Twitter: OtimMichael
UPDATE: Michael and Stephanie consciously uncoupled in 2014. He moved back to the Lehigh Valley and looks forward to Musikfest each year.