Polka, mugs and lots of people: the crowd celebrates the last day of Musikfest 2022


With the soft sounds of the polka pumping from Festplatz, nothing could stop the crowds of revelers at Musikfest 2022 from closing Bethlehem’s annual open-air music festival on Sunday with cups in hand.

Scheduled bands took to their stages as scheduled on Sunday after gunfire and panicked crowds fleeing Plaza Tropical shut down the festival early Saturday night. Police said it was an isolated incident and is being investigated.

A polka mass kicked off the Festplatz on Sunday morning, and by the time the accordion band John Stevens Polka started playing, many people were waiting to hit the dance floor.

Daniel Uivary, from Bath, walked down Lehigh Street with his Fest 2006 mug on his third day at the Fest, heading to the polka music.

“We love music,” he said.

He came early to park and get ahead of the expected crowds. The sunny and dry weather brought huge crowds to this year’s Musikfest.

The family called ahead to see if Uivary had seen reports of gunfire and crowds fleeing Saturday night in Plaza Tropical. He did, but it didn’t keep him away.

The city has allowed Musikfest to continue as planned on Sunday, ArtsQuest President and CEO Kassie Hilgert said as he stood in Plaza Tropical on Sunday afternoon.

“We are delighted that the city allowed us to organize the festival. We already have big crowds coming out. It’s a great day and we’re excited,” said Hilgert.

Olga Tañón will close Musikfest on the Wind Creek Steel Stage and the traditional fireworks are set to follow on Sunday evening.

“Everything is going according to plan,” Hilgert said.

Bethlehem Police were seen surveying the section of Main Street between West Lehigh and Spring streets, talking to workers and volunteers and checking the ground near the intersection of Main and West Lehigh streets.

With a purple tambourine in hand and beads around her neck, Melanie Thiel of Lower Mount Bethel Township was ready to join Big Easy Easton Brass for her Sunday afternoon performance, her fifth for Musikfest 2022.

“We’re not going to let one bad apple ruin everyone,” Thiel said.

One of three tambourine players, Thiel carries the band’s banner and throws beads to fans. She planned to grab something to eat and drink later, then see her longtime friend Peter Karp at Liederplatz.

Thiel said she wasn’t surprised by the already growing crowd, but was surprised at the “rock star” parking spot she managed to snag.

Anyone in doubt about coming, “don’t let that put you off. It’s Bethlehem. We know how to party and we know how to do it safely,” she said with a huge smile.

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Sarah Cassi can be reached at [email protected].


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