Musikfest Rolls Through Flood

ArtsQuest staff had their hands full at this year’s Musikfest Aug. 5-14 at Bethlehem, Pa., when Mother Nature dropped so much rain that it caused some flooding, venue closures and significant financial losses.

ArtsQuest Senior VP Walt Keiper Jr. told Pollstar that some rain fell during six of the 10 days but an Aug. 13 storm that dropped more than three inches in a couple hours caused the nearby Monocacy Creek to overflow its banks and flood the grounds that night.

“We had alerted all of our vendors at the site during the day that there was the potential [for bad weather]. I don’t think it started until about 6 p.m. with some light rain. But the rain got heavier in the evening,” Keiper Jr. said. “Nick Jonas [and The Administration] was the headliner that night and we had to cut that short because the rain started to intensify and we started to get some thunder and lightning.

“The show ran about 50 minutes so we got the bulk of the show in and we got the crowd safely out of the main stage area.”

Keiper Jr. said once the creek overflowed around 11 p.m., festival staff and city fire and police departments worked through the night to clear two lower-lying sites which included the Volksplatz and Handwerkplatz venues. Those stages were closed at that point.
Closing-night headliner Train was able to complete its full show despite the still-inclement weather.

Headlining shows prior to that with Miranda Cosgrove, Buckcherry and Fuel, Steve Miller Band, Alison Krauss + Union Station feat. Jerry Douglas, Maroon 5, Straight No Chaser, Stone Temple Pilots and Steely Dan went on without a hitch.

Despite pulling through a tough situation, the bad weather contributed to lower attendance figures – normally about 1 million a year – and reduced food and beverage sales for the period could put the festival an estimated $750,000 in the hole this year.

That’s a large chunk of money to recoup for the 28-year-old, free festival that has a budget of $8 million alone.
So ArtsQuest officials are doing something they haven’t had to do before now: ask for the community’s help.

To offset the losses and keep the festival free to the public, ArtsQuest officials have launched the “Save Our Songs” donation campaign to supplement ongoing fundraising, sponsorships and concert ticket sales.