With the decline in Pennsylvania’s rich European cultural heritage, the disappearance of the social clubs that once brought pride to our cultural roots, and most recently the reports that one of the last radio stations in the area that caters to Polka fans is planning on straying from this programming, there is something new coming to the all but forgotten heritage of the Lehigh Valley.
Pennsylvania Music Preservation Society, a newly formed non-profit organization, has plans to preserve this rich heritage. Its mission is to promote Pennsylvania’s musical heritage and historic culture that is all too quickly fading away and being forgotten about. Organizers intend on doing this through festivals, dances, and other events. These events will be open to all ages of the general public, with the idea of bringing this important common bond to new folks to enjoy and keep alive for generations to come.
“Some say that this can’t be done, with the older folks passing on and the younger generation’s lack of interest in their heritage and the culture of their European ancestors. Our plan is to prove these naysayers wrong,” says Society Founder & President, Mark Merkel. “Pennsylvania is rich in the cultural heritage that our European ancestors brought with them from Germany, Ireland, & Poland, just to name a few, music being a big part of that heritage. This isn’t just about the music; it’s about the cultural roots, the food, the dancing, & other activities. We can either let it disappear forever or try to preserve it through the types of events we’re planning for both young & old to experience & enjoy,” says Merkel.
The Society’s first event, SPRINGFEST, is set for Sunday May 17th, 2015 from 2:00PM to 8:00pm at The Allentown Fairgrounds’ Maingate Nightclub, tapping into the old Lehigh Valley tradition of Sunday being Polka day. “It’s based on the traditional German festival celebrating the arrival of spring, Maifest. Grammy nominee & Lehigh Valley native Alex Meixner is the featured performer with special guest appearances we’re keeping under wraps for now,” Merkel added. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door, 12 & under are free.
SPRINGFEST organizers are currently seeking other non-profit organizations to serve as food and craft vendors as well as cultural education exhibitors. Our experience is these non-profit organizations such as churches can provide quality food prepared from recipes handed down through the generations at a reasonable price. According to Merkel, “We’re also looking for organizations to help arrange for a maypole dance exhibition or contest. It all promises to be a lot of fun.”
In the next few weeks the Society also plans on announcing a second and much larger event being planned for November.
Advanced ticket sales are available at the Maingate Ticket Outlet located in the Fairgrounds Hotel which is adjacent to the Maingate Tuesday through Saturday noon until 8:00PM.
Information Provided By:
Mark Merkel – President
Pennsylvania Music Preservation Society