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Flooding Closes Two Fest Platzes

Rain caused "major financial loss" for ArtsQuest, which is launching a community appeal.

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.

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 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."

Mary Anne Looby August 15, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Kierstin, thanks for posting the "other side". So many people don't get it, and the vendors that want to come back are afraid to speak up. Good for you for exposing the greedy well oiled machine!
Katja Kruppe August 15, 2011 at 10:00 PM
So since I was unaware of the contractual details, I still find it hard to imagine that ArtsQuest would have punished any vendor for leaving early at the risk of the flood, especially given the outcome of the their delayed shut-down. Like I said, I feel bad for the vendors and also don't expect money from donations to recover losses would go to vendors, but maybe a separate operation for such donations to vendors only could help. Of course all of this, and a community coming together instead of being torn apart, can only be accomplished by people who are willing to look forward, make the best of what has happened and work through this with an positive attitude. People complaining and pointing fingers doesn't help. I am also curious how this "greedy well oiled machine" is using all their profits. I mean, by your description they must be swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck and not give back to the community and arts at all. It sounds like they don't care about Bethlehem and have done absolutely nothing for the region but managed to take in money laugh in our faces while doing so.
JKGC August 16, 2011 at 12:12 AM
So people should just be nice little lambs and just shut up and say nothing, not share feelings and tell the truth? Fingers need to be pointed to the correct people who are responsible. Mr Park talks a big game but that is all, I attended one of his speeches and he was talking about how much ArtsQuest is doing for the local community etc.. I live in Bethlehem and have a business here, I figured I would try to be a vendor at Musikfest and applied. They chose vendors from out of state over us even tho we are from Bethlehem. I still went to Musikfest and applied again and after several attempts, was finally approved to be a vendor because someone else backed out at the last minute. They take a huge percentage of the gross sales and that is the reason why the prices are so crazy. ArtsQuest employees are rude and think too much of themselves. I still think the idea is a great idea. It could be a lot of fun if it was not all about profits for ArtsQuest. If you speak to 80% of the vendors they will tell you it's not as good as it used to be. I have been here for almost 10 years and I can see the difference between the last 2 years and the first year I went to musikfest. Nobody at ArtsQuest thought of taking an insurance, then fire the people at the top. ArtsQuest is certainly not going to help the little vendor recoup the losses it encountered, it's all about them and nothing else counts, if I'm wrong send examples. Should we just be quiet and let people think all is great? Nope
Katja Kruppe August 16, 2011 at 12:34 AM
No one says the vendors should be quiet and not voice their opinion on how things were/ are handled, but also use the energy to unite and start a fundraiser to benefit vendors directly to recoup losses (especially the ones that got flooded, not so much the ones that lost income due to weather). As it was pointed out, ArtsQuest does pay the musicians, the crazy prices for food and drinks have always been a donation in my eyes rather than a true price for it. (food at the farmers fairs cost about the same and you even have to pay to get in) Every year I end up having unused tickets that I either give to someone at the fest or just keep and also see as a donation for the music and entertainment I was able to enjoy for free. I am curious, how much has the percentage vendors give up on their profits + permit to sell there changed from before ArtsQuest was in charge and now? I am seriously confused why if all the vendors are unhappy (and it seems to be the case), they haven't stood up and united to address the issues? I also have seen a bunch of cases where business owners have taken initiative to take advantage of the crowds and draw future clients, I don't see how it only benefits ArtsQuest.
Mary Anne Looby August 16, 2011 at 01:40 AM
It's all well and good for someone who is not a vendor to have lots of ideas for them. Vendors make their living from these kinds of events, held all over the country, it's not just Musikfest and Celticfest. If you want to vend, you put up and shut up. People talk. A vendor who speaks up can very easily be black balled on the "festival circut". If word gets out that a vendor is difficult, they can loose their livelyhood. If you knew any vendors personally, you would know this.

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