Growing Mayfair: Festival builds on success in second year at Cedar Crest College
A newly-invigorated Mayfair returns to Cedar Crest College for its second year with twice as many artists and food vendors, expanded hours and some new faces.
After more than 22,000 filled the Allentown campus for the three-day festival last year, Lauren Condon, director of Student Union and Engagement for Cedar Crest, says organizers were “empowered” to move ahead with this year’s festival.
“The feedback was overwhelmingly positive about bringing back this beloved tradition to our beautiful campus,” she says. “We are hoping to build on last year’s numbers.”
Returning will be multiple stages featuring continuous music by popular local and regional bands, an artists’ market, children’s activities, food stands and beer and wine to herald the unofficial start of summer on Memorial Day weekend.
Mayfair hours are 4 p.m. - 10 p.m. May 24 and noon - 10 p.m. May 25 and 26. Admission is free. Free parking is available on campus.
This year, there are more than 50 artists in The Artists Market outside and inside Lees Hall on the campus. Artists located on one side of the campus are now interspersed throughout the festival grounds.
“We got feedback that people wanted the artists where the food and music was,” Condon says.
Artists’ displays and demonstrations include pottery, sculpture, painting and photography. You can even get your hands decorated with henna designs.
There are more than 30 performances during festival hours.
“There are a lot of really great Lehigh Valley names coming to Mayfair,” she says. “It is important to us to stay local.”
The festival has two stages: a main stage off College Drive and a bandstand stage at the Blaney Hall circle. There will be a strolling performer: Little Brass Band.
Main stage performers include Irish pub band Rogue Diplomats, funk dance band Lucky 7, 1960s’ band The Large Flowerheads, pop rock band Shake3X, the blues of BC Combo, and dance band Philadelphia Funk Authority.
Popular blues-rock harmonica player James Supra and vocalist Sarah Ayers headline May 25. The 1980s’ tribute band Rubix Cube headlines May 26.
Bandstand performers include Old Town Wake, Stoney Run Group, Rebels of Grundy City, Ophelia (Dina Hall and Beth Sherby), Tap Ties, Cedar Crest’s Danceworks and Maggie Spike. May 24 features Allentown music scene performers, including Fitted Kub, SDK, Sunny George and Quin Jayne.
Cedar Crest emphasizes education at Mayfair by having artists-in-action workshops and holding tours of the college’s William F. Curtis Arboretum, a nationally-registered arboretum with more than 150 species of trees from around the world.
Workshops May 25 and 26 include origami by Lehigh Valley Origami Enthusiasts and Great Philadelphia Paper Pholders, papermaking with Jill Odegaard, and making a miniature fairy garden with Wee Folk Gardens.
Free arboretum walking tours are at 11 a.m. May 25 and 26. Tours are limited to the first 50 people registered per day.
To register: cedarcrest.edu/arboretum
Condon says more than 20 food vendors offer “a ton of food for every taste bud.”
Vendors, including Cactus Blue, The Little Sicilian, Cone Appetit, Take-a-Taco, Bananarama, Kona Ice and Grumpy’s BBQ, offer funnel cakes, burgers, hot dogs, pierogis, tacos, barbecue, fajitas, gyros, fried Oreos, ice cream and banana whip.
Banko Beverages and It’s Miller Time Lehigh Valley will have beer for those age 21 and older. Franklin Hills Vineyards will have a selection of wines for sale.
Franki’s Fun Zone, named for college mascot Franki the Falcon and featuring inflatables, face-painting, pony rides, a rock wall, and activities for children, will be spread thoughout festival grounds.
Baum School of Art will host a children’s art tent offering free art projects, 2 - 5 p.m. May 25 and 26.
Condon says hosting the festival is a perfect fit for Cedar Crest, which wants to bring people to its 84-acre tree-lined campus.
Though Cedar Crest College, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2017, is well-established in the Lehigh Valley, many have never been to the campus.
“This is an opportunity to invite the community to our campus,” she says.
Cedar Crest College came to Mayfair’s rescue last year after the annual Allentown music and arts festival was canceled in 2017 after nearly three decades.
Mayfair was founded 32 years ago as a free arts and music festival in Cedar Beach Park and Union Terrace, a successor to center city Allentown’s Celebration festival and Super Sunday.
Although initially attracting thousands of people, Mayfair was plagued by bad weather and struggled financially.
In 2005, the festival put up gates and started charging admission, but still faced the uncertainties of the weather.
In 2013, Mayfair moved to the Agri-Plex at the Allentown Fairgrounds, where it had indoor and outdoor venues. Admission continued to be charged. The festival was canceled in 2017.
After last year’s successful Mayfair, Condon says organizers are excited and just “hoping for great weather.”
Mayfair Information: cedarcrest.edu/mayfair