As Bethlehem and Musikfest get set to welcome up to one million people to the city beginning today, officials with the City of Bethlehem and ArtsQuest, the nonprofit that presents the festival, have announced a handful of changes designed to enhance the experience and overall safety for everyone at the event. Now in its 32nd year, Musikfest will kick off Aug. 7 at 5 p.m. and offer nearly 550 music and art performances during its 10-day run that concludes Aug. 16.
In late July, Bethlehem Police and Northampton County Emergency Management Services personnel installed several additional video cameras in Bethlehem’s historic district to enhance safety and surveillance efforts on Main Street during the festival, as well as throughout the year. All video cameras in the area will be monitored regularly from an on-site location during regular Musikfest hours. In addition, the City and County will be erecting additional temporary lighting on Main Street, from Church Street to Broad Street, as well as Broad Street, in the area from Main Street to Guetter Street, just prior to the festival.
“Musikfest is the catalyst that brings thousands together each year to share our great City with people from all over the country, and the world, in a kindred spirit of love of music,” says Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez. “The City and ArtsQuest, in conjunction with federal, state and local authorities, have worked year-round planning and coordinating to make the 32nd edition of Musikfest the safest and best experience for all.”
Other enhancements for 2015 include:
- The City’s police department will continue to provide its enhanced level of service at Musikfest, including bicycle, motorcycle and mounted patrol units. In addition, it is adding roving police patrols in several areas adjacent to the festival grounds.
- Two motorized gators will be used by the City, providing an additional option for police and emergency services personnel to respond quickly and efficiently in the event of any emergency.
- The city has completed upgrades to the sidewalks and removed select trees on Main Street, making the sidewalks more accessible to guests year-round, including the patrons, vendors and performers at Musikfest.
- ArtsQuest will provide Events Staff support when and where needed to assist with crowd flow and other services during the event.
The enhancements for Musikfest 2015 are the result of a series of planning meetings between the City, County and ArtsQuest during the past year. Since the conclusion of Musikfest 2014, the City of Bethlehem; Bethlehem Police, Fire and EMS Departments; Northampton County Emergency Management Services and ArtsQuest have met regularly to discuss options for enhancing patron safety and the guest experience at the festival.
During Musikfest 2015, ArtsQuest and Bethlehem police, fire and emergency medical services personnel will meet daily to provide updates on festival operations, logistics and communications, allowing them to make any adjustments in services when and where needed. The City, County and ArtsQuest also held joint training exercises earlier this year to review and update emergency preparedness and response plans for the festival and other large-scale events held at SteelStacks throughout the year.
“Our top priority when we plan for Musikfest every year is always the safety of everyone who attends the event, including our vendors, performers, volunteers and guests,” says ArtsQuest President and CEO Kassie Hilgert. “Working closely with the City and all of its agencies helps everyone prepare to respond quickly and efficiently in the event an emergency situation may arise. In addition, the protocols, procedures and additional safety measures, such as the newly-installed security cameras, are all things that will benefit the City, its merchants and residents throughout the year, not just during the 10 days of Musikfest.”
Musikfest hours, including on Main Street, will be 5-11 p.m. Aug. 7 and noon-11 p.m. Aug. 8-16. This year’s festival will feature nearly 350 performers on 16 stages over 10 days, most in the event’s history. For more information on Musikfest 2015, visit www.musikfest.org.
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