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2016-05-01 / Features

10 Reasons to Get Excited for the 10th Annual Summer’s Best Music Fest

Sabrina Evans


This year marks the anniversary of a decade-old warm-weather tradition in State College. In June, Summer’s Best Music Fest is pulling out all the stops. There are so many reasons to be excited for the 10th annual downtown event — here are 10.

01 Two Days for Twice the Fun
This year for the first time, the Downtown Improvement District will be hosting its epic summer music festival for two days — June 3 and 4 — instead of one. “Our two-day schedule means we’re still offering as much or more free music as we ever have,” says Shannon Bishop, the chair of the festival. With 23 national and local acts signed on to perform, the lineup is worth the extended stay for festival fans.

02 Out-Of-Town Appeal
Attendance at Summer’s Best is expected to increase this year — up to 6-8,000 from 4-5,000 in past years — and for good reason. “With the increased number of nationally recognized acts and two-day schedule, people are coming from all over to make a weekend out of it,” says Executive Director of the Downtown State College Improvement District George Arnold. The weekend is set to shatter festival records and contribute to Centre County’s reputation as an outdoor event hot spot. “Ticket sales so far have been 50 percent local and 50 percent out of town, some people coming from over two or three hours away.”

03 Tickets that Won't Break the Bank
“Going to a ticketed model means we’re able to bring the talent level way up on the Garner stages,” Bishop says. “We think music lovers will be delighted.” Top-notch acts are a guarantee at this summer’s event, for which you can purchase single-day tickets for $20-$30 and a weekend pass for $40. “If you were going to see any one of these national-level artists, it would cost you the same amount or more,” Arnold says.

04 Free Local Acts
Summer’s Best Music Fest has worked with the Downtown Improvement District over the years to help boost the local economy and spotlight the local arts scene by making it a can’t-miss showcase of the season featuring favorite local performers. In addition to the ticketed Garner Main Stage, the remaining three stages on Locust Lane, Calder and in the Locust Lot will host free performances by local artists. There’s something for everyone, like acoustic tunes from singer-songwriter Eric Ian Farmer, the classic blues of the Jive Bombers and the rocking soul of Jackie Brown & the Gill Street Band, to name a few.

05 Headliner: Doyle Bramhall Jr.
Bramhall’s skills as an artist have caught the attention of greats like Eric Clapton, whom Bramhall has collaborated with for more than a decade, and now he’s headed for State College to share his talents with the local music community. An in-demand vocalist, guitarist, composer and producer, Bramhall has worked with Sheryl Crow, Elton John and Gregg Allman in addition to numerous others to spotlight his signature bluesy rock & roll sound. Catch him starting at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Garner Main Stage.

06 Headliner: Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds
Having shared a stage with bands like Counting Crows and The Avett Brothers, the New York hard soul collective Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds will be headlining the Garner Main Stage on Friday night. The LA Times described the band’s sound as “fiery brass- and gospel-infused funk,” which should get Garner rocking starting at 8 p.m.

07 Introducing Summer's Best ... BEER GARDEN!
New this year is a curated beer garden that will include brews from at least one local craft beer distributor and other national brands. Patrons can enjoy their libations while strolling among four of the festival’s five stages. In addition to the 40 eateries within walking distance of the festival, says Arnold, the beer garden is a perfect topper to a fun and food-filled weekend.

08 I Scream, You Scream, Ice Cream Festival
An oldie but a goodie, the State College Downtown Rotary will host an Ice Cream Festival from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday as part of the weekend’s warm-weather lineup. The Ice Cream Festival will be located on Calder Way near the Calder Acoustic Stage and will remain alcohol free and family friendly. Ticket sales from the event — $5 will allow you access to frozen treats from creameries across the state — will go towards organizations serving youth in the State College community.

09 National Ticketed Acts
With a boost from ticket sales and two days’ worth of spots to fill with headlining acts, the Garner Main Stage will host 10 nationally touring acts on this year’s bill, as opposed to just one last year. “These are up-and-coming artists,” Arnold says. “Most of these bands are going to be at festivals across the United States this summer and have new albums coming out.” If there are 10 reasons to stop by the festival, Arnold says, each of the bands on the lineup should be reason enough.

10 Taking It to the Top
“This is our 10th anniversary, and it’s a momentous year for us,” Bishop says. “We are thrilled to be at this point and to share our excitement with the State College community and beyond.” After a decade of successfully shining a spotlight on State College’s music scene, Arnold says he expects this year’s event to stand out next to local events like Fourth Fest and Arts Fest. Pairing with Lucky Dog Management, a Johnstown-based company with a reputation for serving up some of Pennsylvania’s best music festivals, Summer’s Best is getting a much-anticipated facelift that will make it a “boutique” festival experience for all ages, says Arnold. •SCM

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