Musikfest starts in less than a week. More than twenty years ago I would count-down the days. The mostly-free music festival in downtown Bethlehem, PA was my yearly “big” vacation. Each day I would take around $20 or $30 with me for food tickets and maybe even an entertainer’s CD. (if I hadn’t been too hungry). It was the cheapest vacation around and I was at a time in my life when money was tight. I saw some great groups, many of them local to the Lehigh Valley. I heard music and saw dances from all over the world. It was a vacation I could afford. Finally I was able to go to England several times and take an Alaskan cruise. And there were the many trips to Seattle to see my daughter. Musikfest as a vacation became less and less important.
And it has changed since I would go every day during the ten days of its August run. Many of the acts are now on the South Side of Bethlehem where Steel Stacks now rests. A long walk for an old woman. Yes, I know there are buses and trolleys but the walking around town—well, that made the festival. Musikfest is no longer the neighborhood festival where visitors could walk from platz to platz, depending on the music they wanted.
My favorite platz was Leiderplatz behind the Sun Inn on Main Street, downtown. I could sit under the shade of the trees and listen to folk music. I could even have a beer if I wanted to use up my food tickets quickly. If it got too hot, I could duck into one of the stores on Main Street for a bit of air-conditioning. I discovered that some of the platzes of my Festing Heyday are gone. But Leiderplatz will still be behind the Sun Inn. So maybe I will take “a day off” from writing and head to downtown Bethlehem, park in the nearby parking garage, and sit under the trees and have a beer while listening to folk music.
Now retired, I’ve come full circle with money and now a flight to England may not be in my future. But a drive to the Lehigh Valley and $30 for food tickets may be just the way to spend an August afternoon.