Heavy rains and the overflowing Monocacy Creek have forced Musikfest to close two platzes today for the first time in the festival’s 28-year history.
ArtsQuest has meanwhile announced that it is launching a relief fund to offset what it projects will be more than $750,000 in losses because of rain that fell on six of the festival’s 10 days.
Volksplatz and Handwerkplatz, the two lowest lying platzes that are both very close to the Monocacy Creek, were closed this morning.
The National Weather Service issued a statement that the Monocacy Creek had overflowed its banks in Bethlehem at 9:14am. The service had recorded more than 3½ inches of rain in the Lehigh Valley since nightfall Saturday and was calling for another one or two inches of rain today.
Heavy rains on Saturday night forced the festival to shorten the Nick Jonas concert at the Sands Steel Stage, according to reports. The Train concert scheduled there this evening is still going on as planned.
The fireworks, scheduled for 9:45 this evening, are also still planned, though they “are dependent on the weather,” according to an ArtsQuest news release issued this morning.
"Despite the rain, Musikfest remains open today, with music on all but one of our stages," ArtsQuest President Jeff Parks said through the release. "The changes we are making are designed to help ensure the safety of our guests at the festival.”
The news release said the creek flooding had caused “major damage” at Volksplatz and Handwerkplatz, which hosts an array of crafters and artisans and a 4-ton carillon where Cast in Bronze performs nightly.
The musical acts that had been scheduled to play at Volksplatz today have been canceled, except one. Balla Kouyate & World Vision, which came from Boston to be here, will play at the Air Products Town Square starting at 2pm instead of Audio Dynamikz.
The festival has faced a “major financial loss” because of the significant rain that fell during six of its ten days, including both weekends.
"It is ironic that one of the reasons for the development of the ArtsQuest Center and SteelStacks campus was to spread our financial risk throughout the year, rather than depend primarily on 10 days in August," Parks said. "This year is our most vulnerable year with the opening of SteelStacks and now we are facing significant financial losses at Musikfest."
ArtsQuest has announced the “Save Our Songs” relief fund, a first-of- its-kind plea for community help in Musikfest’s history.
The release said: “ArtsQuest has always put any net revenue generated from Musikfest back into arts and cultural programs for the community, including the new $26 million ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks. ArtsQuest does not have a financial reserve to support a loss of this size," Parks said.
"We realize that these are difficult times for our community so it is with great reluctance that we seek support," Parks said. "For 28 years, in good times and bad, we have offered everyone in our community, regardless of their financial means, a great festival and a chance to forget about the troubles of the world. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has intervened this year and has literally rained on our parade."