Central PA 4th Fest Returning to Medlar Field – Statecollege.com

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Fireworks light up the sky over Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on July 4, 2021. Central PA 4th Fest will return to Medlar Field with a ticketed event for 2022. Photo by Ben Jones | StateCollege.com
Central PA 4th Fest is returning to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in 2022 with a ticketed event to celebrate Independence Day, the organization announced on Wednesday.
The festival, starting at 4 p.m. on July 4, will include live music from three bands, including Jersey rock veterans Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes, as well as the “Human Cannonball” David Smith Jr., kids activities, food and beverage options and, of course, the Fourth of July fireworks show.
Parking will be included in the cost of tickets. For those without 4th Fest tickets, parking will be available after 7 p.m. for $10 per vehicle (free with a Penn State parking pass) in designated lots near the stadium where spectators can watch the fireworks display. No tailgating will be permitted, and music for the fireworks show will not be simulcast on the radio as it had been in past years.
After canceling in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 4th Fest returned last year in a modified form, partnering with the State College Spikes for a postgame fireworks show. There’s no Spikes game this year — though the team does play at home on July 3 with an appearance by the Human Cannonball and postgame fireworks — so Medlar Field will be dedicated to festival activities on July 4.
The all-day event of past years with vendors and entertainment on the streets and lots around Beaver Stadium and Medlar Field will not be happening again — and is unlikely to return in the future, 4th Fest President Kurt Weibel told StateCollege.com. There will be no downtown parade or 4k race as in years prior to 2020, but those may well be back in the coming years.
“The event is not an all-day event,” Weibel said. “We don’t have the 4k race back this year quite yet. We don’t have the parade back quite yet. We are looking for volunteers for the parade in order to bring that back. As far as the 4k race it just wasn’t sustainable yet this year to bring that back.”
4th Fest is a volunteer organization, and Weibel said the declining number of volunteers has played a critical role in the changes to the annual event.
“Unfortunately the world has changed and people have moved on from the organization,” Weibel said. “Thirty-plus years we had people in the organization that said ‘Hey you know what? I don’t want to do this anymore. I’ve been doing it for 30 years; I want to pass the torch on.’ Those things have happened in the organization and the volunteer base has shrunk quite a bit because, well, you try go find people to work; you pay them and you can’t find them to work.”
So the organization decided it had to take a different approach.
“What we looked at it is to streamline it… make it a very easy process in order to have it in the same proximity and give people a seat, restrooms, food and beverage inside the stadium and also have entertainment that they can come and see,” Weibel said.
In addition to Southside Johnny, popular local acts Jackie Brown and the Gill Street Band and Velveeta will perform during 4th Fest.
The fireworks show to cap off the night will run about 30 minutes, the same as last year, but will be a bigger display.
“The shell sizes, the amount of shells will be doubled from what it was,” Weibel said.
Tickets start at $15 per person, with four-packs available starting at $40. Larger groups can purchase 10-person picnic pavilion packages for $100, and air-conditioned luxury suites also will be available. Tickets can be purchased at statecollegespikes.com, by calling 814-272-1711 or by visiting the Medlar Field ticket office during regular business hours.
“We cannot wait to welcome Happy Valley to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the exclusive viewing location for the Central PA 4th Fest fireworks show,” Spikes President and General Manager Scott Walker said in a statement. “Our friends at 4th Fest have assembled a fantastic lineup of entertainment for fans all the way through the night, and we are sure that there will be something for everybody to celebrate at the ballpark.”
Weibel said he is looking forward to the future of 4th Fest as it continues to evolve.
“The best way to describe it is you’re looking in the rearview mirror as you’re driving the vehicle and what do you see? A very small sliver of the past,” he said. “And the past is something that we’re going to put behind us and we’re going to move into the future. We have this wide windshield in front of us and we have all the opportunity to move forward.”
He added that the organization appreciates the support it receives from the community and endeavors to provide an event that matches that support.
“We appreciate everything the community gives us and we put the show on that the community supports,” he said. “The community that supports us, we put that show on. Has it changed? It sure has changed but all our lives have changed. There’s nothing the same. So please come and enjoy it. Come up, come into the stadium. There’s going to be like 5,500 seats available, food and beverage, entertainment for the kids. How can you go wrong?”
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