Memories of Musikfest

Musikfest and LehighMy 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.

I’m looking forward to attending Musikfest again in the future. I hope that it’s sooner rather than later because it also means that I’ll get to visit the beautiful Lehigh University campus too.

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.


  1. You have to make it back to Musikfest! My fiance and I make a point of going, we’ve gone for the last five years, and are looking forward to this year’s event. We live in Carlisle PA, so it’s not much of a trip, as you have from Dallas!

  2. Growing Up in Bethlehem, I lived with Musikfest as an Undergrad….then as a Grad student, I learned to live with Musikfester’s car parking in front of my apartment for 11 days over on 3rd ave in Bethlehem… Not so much fun, but once I had my parking spot, my LU friends would enjoy Musikfest and hang out (er, sleep?) on the apartment porch..Ah those were the days (and extended days) at LU.. Now in Upstate NY, I miss years of Musikfest craziness (though I head from family that it politically changed over the years into a North side vendors vs the new south side Steel Works event. Not sure if it resembles what was 25 years ago, though still great for the city and area) – Dr Keith.

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