BLOOMSBURG — Bloomsburg is known for its popular fair which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Now some people are hoping to make it a destination for music festival lovers as well.
The first FarmFest Bloomsburg on Saturday will feature a range of national and regional groups, as well as craft and food vendors and camping opportunities.
Festival coordinator Dave Cerreta said it was the perfect location for an outdoor music festival, being in the geographic middle of some popular music venues like the Briggs Farm Blues Festival in Nescopeck and the Spyglass Ridge Winery at Sunbury.
“There’s no big festival here,” Cerreta said. “We thought we would try to chart a course and create one.”
Ceretta teamed up with his friend, John Berger, who owns the farm property not far from the popular Bloomsburg City Park. Specifically, this property contains two large barns, both over 100 years old. The largest has been transformed into an event hall. The 40-by-30-foot, two-and-a-half-storey barn at the rear of the property will be used for the music festival. Ceretta said Berger, who is good at building things, built a 40-foot stage on the side of the barn.
“The whole center of the barn that used to be the wall is convertible and lifts up to become the roof,” Ceretta explained. The scene itself continues another 12 feet into the barn, and the side of the barn even has a mural painted on it.
“The property itself is truly stunning,” he said. “There is a large spacious lawn, river frontage and it is bordered by 110 acres of farmland.”
Ceretta said they had spoken several times about organizing a festival. While Berger’s expertise was in making this possible on the facilities side, Ceretta’s was on the entertainment side.
For many years Ceretta from Berwick has been part of a local band called Clove and has had the opportunity to get to know and hear many of the musicians and bands performing on Saturday.
He said that in general the bands will all play American music, with a mix of pop, country and classic rock.
Headliners for the festival will be Dustin Douglas & The Electric Gentleman, and Bret Alexander of The Badlees fame will perform with two different acts during the event. Bret Alexander & Friends will perform, and Alexander will support a Stevie Nicks Tribute that features Kate Hearity, also known as K8, and Jen Cerreta, wife of Dave Cerreta who was also part of Clove.
“I always like playing with those guys,” Alexander said. “Plus Jen and I are going back so it should be fun too!”
Alexander has lived in the area for over 10 years and says he still often works in the area.
“I love these people,” he said. “Lots of good memories here and a great team.”
Alexander said he’s also given solo shows, as well as performances with The Badlees, who are working on new music they plan to release at the end of the year.
Hearity said she was thrilled to perform at the festival. Ever since she was little, she says she loves to play music. At 21, she discovered the group Clove and immediately fell in love with it.
“I went to every show I could, soaking up whatever I could learn from them,” she said. “I studied their vocals, put together their setlists, headed to a few shows and followed them to the studio.”
She eventually started playing keyboards and singing background vocals for them. She formed a special musical bond with Jen Ceretta, and even after striking out on her own — which included writing and recording her own albums and even singing a national commercial jingle for Days Inn — they are stayed close. She said they were moonlit as an acoustic duo called Mighty Aphrodite, which will also perform as part of Saturday’s lineup.
K8 calls Jen Ceretta their “vocal soulmate”.
“From the very first harmony to today, it always felt like our voices were meant to blend and harmonize with each other,” she said.
In addition to his wife performing at the festival, Dave Ceretta said their son, Leonardo Ceretta, is “The Crooner Kid”, who will perform a Frank Sinatra number.
Dave Ceretta said he was okay putting aside his performing days to now sit back and enjoy the acts while being on the promotional side for them.
Saturday’s lineup will also include a tribute to ZZ Top, Wells River Band, Tim Johnson, The Mountain Grove Outlaws, The Mighty Susquehannas, Vine Street, The Eagle Rockers with The Crooner Kid, Plunder & Lightning and Jerk & Twitch.
The event will feature food trucks, as well as a cellar vendor and a brewery vendor. Many craftsmen will also be on site. Overnight camping is available along the river. Dave Ceretta wants this to be an annual event that people look forward to.
“I think that’s what it’s all about – getting everyone together to throw away their cares for the day, being outside, listening to music and having fun,” he said.
Dave Ceretta said one of the goals of the event is to support the community, and one way to do that is to donate a portion of ticket sales to the Berwick Farmers’ Market.
“We all love where we live,” he said, “and we want it to be a nicer place.”