STORY WRITTEN BY LOIS PUGLIONESI
For Digital First Media
HAVERFORD >> After a successful debut in May 2014, the Haverford Spring Fest Music and Arts Festival returns to rock the streets of Havertown Sunday.
Spring Fest runs noon-7 p.m., on Brookline Boulevard and Darby Road.
Fans can expect an even bigger and better event, featuring continuous live music, food vendors, beer gardens, crafts by local artisans, children’s activities, informational booths highlighting community organizations, and more.
Produced by Kelly Music for Life, the festival celebrates the arrival of spring, as well as “the blossoming music, arts and cultural identity of Haverford Township,” said Tom Kelly, festival director and Music for Life founder.
With momentum from last year and a lineup of quality acts, Spring Fest attendance is projected to reach 10,000, Kelly said. Last year’s festival drew 8,500. To accommodate larger audiences, the stage will be located farther back on the boulevard. Additionally, a new VIP area will be set up in front of the stage, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The area will provide seating and standing room for 150-200 people, and a private bar sponsored by Victory Beer. Admission is $10 per person. Space is limited.
Also the founder of iRadioPhilly, Kelly drew upon his extensive knowledge and connectedness to the Philadelphia music scene to put together a diverse musical program. Diversity exposes listeners to new things, and ensures there’s “something for everyone,” Kelly said.
The show opens at noon with a performance by the Haverford High School Jazz Ensemble, followed by Cat’s Pajamas, a group that’s sure to engage younger audiences with stories, dance, puppets, props, and a high-octane blend of “kid-rock.”
On stage at 1:20 p.m., Cabin Dogs combines American country roots with a 1970s vibe. Founded by Rich and Bob Kwait, the band has played Newport Folk Festival and Appel Farm Festival.
Folks in their 50s and older will remember rock ’n’ roll pioneer Charlie Gracie, who takes the stage at 2 p.m. The South Philadelphia native topped the American and British music charts with his hit song, “Butterfly,” in 1957. Gracie frequently appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.” Now 78, Gracie continues to perform in the United States and abroad. He recently published an autobiography, “Rock & Roll’s Hidden Giant: The Story of Rock Pioneer Charlie Gracie.”
Following Gracie will be End of America, a band Brendon Thomas, James Downs and Trevor Leonard formed in 2010. This Philadelphia-based trio blends three-part harmony with rock and Americana.
Kuf Knotz, a young alternative artist, will bring his unique brand of hip-hop, indie, reggae and soul to the stage at 3:30 p.m. Knotz’ albums include “Boombox Logic,” released in 2010, and the more recent “A Positive Light.”
Also performing will be Philadelphia rock ’n’ roller Tommy Conwell, and Ashley Leone, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter.
The show closes with David Uosikkinen’s band, In the Pocket, an all-star group featuring original members and music of the Hooters, The A’s, Soul Survivors, Beru Revue, Smash Palace and more.
Attendees will find equally varied culinary styles to choose from. Chinese, Mexican, Italian and American cuisine will be offered by vendors stationed along Brookline Boulevard, including Twenty9 Restaurant and Bar, JD McGillicuddy’s, Sampan Inn, Vida Taqueria & BYOB, P&S Ravioli, Meat Wagon BBQ, Janos Pizza, Street Side BBQ and Kettle Restaurant. Beer and wine stations will be available at various locations. Also on Brookline Boulevard is Centrella’s Deli, Testa’s Bakery, Ivy Inn and Koffmeyer’s Cookies.
A children’s Fun Zone, located in the Brookline Municipal parking lot, will offer supervised inflatable activities, face painting and more. For $10, attendees can purchase an “all-day/all-you-can-play” Fun Zone pass.
The Philadelphia Section PGA will be on hand, too, with a “PGA Growing the Game Interactivity Area.” Staffed by PGA professionals, this station will introduce children to golf with an inflatable “Golfzilla” challenge. Donations will support festival beneficiaries.
Kelly said he founded Music for Life in 2013 for the express purpose of funding school and community music programs.
Beneficiaries include the Haverford High School Jazz Ensemble, Haverford Township Free Library, Grange Estate, MusicWorks and more.
“We believe music is important at different levels. For students, it’s a discipline that has many benefits. Like sports, it involves commitment, practice, self-discipline. Unfortunately, music programs tend to be the first things to get cut,” Kelly said. “Music can move people in a very positive way.”
Events like Spring Fest “bring the community together” and contribute to a sense of cultural identity, he added.
Spring Fest complements the larger Haverford Music Festival, a fall event held annually since 2011 in the Oakmont section of the township.
Said Kelly, “We wanted to create a second event, at another time of year and in another section of Havertown that would raise more awareness for what Haverford Township has to offer, give people another reason to come here, spend money, and maybe move here, because it’s becoming a much cooler place to live.”
Spring Fest will be held rain or shine. Due to limited parking, attendees are encouraged to use mass transit, walk or bike if possible. Free bicycle valet parking will be available at Brookline Boulevard and Beverly Road, courtesy of Friends of Haverford Trails.
Attendees 21 or older may purchase beer and carry it in the festival area in special-edition Haverford Spring Fest collector cups. Proper ID will be required. Cups containing liquid may not be carried out of the festival area. Outdoor beer taps close at 6 p.m. Attendees are not permitted to bring alcoholic beverages, glass containers, weapons, explosives or fireworks into the event. All bags, backpacks and coolers will be inspected at entry points.
Haverford Spring Fest will be streamed live on iRadioPhilly.com. For more information, visit www.haverfordspringfest.com. Follow the Fest on Facebook at Haverford Spring Fest, Twitter at @HaverfordSpring and Instagram at @haverfordspringfest2015 for updates.
IF YOU GO
The Haverford Spring Fest Music and Arts Festival runs noon-7 p.m. Sunday on Brookline Boulevard, between Darby and Beverly roads, Havertown. Admission is $2 minimum donation requested at entry.
Festival gates open 11 a.m.
Noon — HHS Jazz Ensemble
12:40 p.m. — Cat’s Pajamas
1:20 p.m. — Cabin Dogs
2 p.m. — Charlie Gracie
2:50 p.m. — The End of America
3:30 p.m. — Kuf Knotz
4:20 p.m. — Ashley Leone
5 p.m. — In the Pocket
All times subject to change