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Hot temps, cool music defined OneEarth ReggaeFest at SteelStacks

Phil Gianficaro
Cheezy McNasty and The Crackers kicked off the third annual OneEarth ReggaeFest at SteelStacks in Bethlehem on Saturday. The free festival was held from noon to midnight and featured Jamaican-inspired food and eclectic vendors.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — The only thing that wasn’t incredibly cool about the third annual One Earth ReggaeFest at SteelStacks on Saturday was the temperature.

Feel-good music, a variety of delicious food, an assortment of vendors and a welcome feeling of togetherness defined the 12-hour music event on a day when oppressive heat rose into the mid-90s.

Jim and Debbie Fenimore of Coopersburg arrived dressed for the occasion, fashioning tie-dye T-shirts.

Each bobbed their head to the beat as the New Jersey-based reggae band, Cheezy and The Crackers, kicked off the live music just after noon outside the ArtsQuest Center.

One Earth ReggaeFest 2024

“Reggae music has such a fun vibe to it, a happy vibe,” Jim said.

Added Debbie: “This music creates such a relaxed environment. You can’t help but be happy when you’re listening to it.”

Reggae is a style of music that combines native styles with elements of rock and soul music and is performed at moderate tempos with the accent on the offbeat, which traces its origins back to the 50s and 60s in Jamaica.

reggae tiedye.jpg
Phil Gianficaro
Jim and Debbie Fenimore of Coopersburg came dressed for the occasion with tie-dye attire at the third annual OneEarth ReggaeFest at SteelStacks on Saturday.

Presented by Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley, in partnership with Movement Moves Media, the free festival featured eclectic vendors, authentic Jamaican food and fun for all.

“This music creates such a relaxed environment. You can’t help but be happy when you’re listening to it.”
Debbie Fenimore, Coopersburg

Folks were entertained by a dozen reggae and related musical acts on two outdoor stages at Levitt Pavilion and Air Products Town Square.

“This type of music brings you to a place where you can't always get to,” said Cheezy McNasty, frontman of the seven-member band, The Crackers. “It has a nice island vibe. This music transports us there.

“I grew up a big Bob Marley fan. But what we do is take some pop songs and other genres and give them a nice Caribbean vibe, just to give people the spice of the beach wherever they are.”

The day-long event featured reggae, ska, dancehall and soca music from such artists as Cultivated Mind, The Tabernacle, SunDub, Mighty Mystic, F.Y.A.H., Marrissa Joy, and Ras Jem & Unity Vibration.

The intoxicating aroma from many food vendors transported festival-goers directly to the blue water and gentle breezes of a Caribbean beach.

For Sophia Young, Saturday offered a feeling of home.

Young is co-owner of D&S Caribbean Kitchen in Bethlehem with her sister, Debbie Aldred.

Phil Gianficaro
Sisters Sophia Young and Debbie Aldred served up Jamaican fare from their D&S Caribbean Kitchen tent.

Young’s food tent was doing brisk business on Saturday, with many customers opting for her delectable jerk chicken.

While she shared a story of growing up in Jamaica more than 40 years ago, and shared a story of learning to cook at her mama’s side, and shared a smile warmer than a Caribbean summer, she had her limits.

“I can’t share the recipe,” Young said, grinning. “It’s a family recipe. Can’t do it.”

Phil Gianficaro
Jose Indalecio and daughter, Aliyah, 7, of Whitehall enjoying the cool music vibes at the OneEarth ReggaeFest at SteelStacks on Saturday.

The Bob Marley and the Wailers’ classic, “All in One,” blared on the sound system between live music performances.

Wearing a green Bob Marley Rebel Music T-shirt, Dominican-born Jose Indalecio of Whitehall extended his arms outward.

“Look,” he said, “I have goosebumps. I just love this music. It is so uplifting.

Seven-year-old daughter, Aliyah, echoed her father’s sentiments — with an addendum.

“I love this music — right after the Beatles,” she said.

Folks strolled the walkway between vendor tents and sat at tables beneath tents sipping cold drinks and enjoying Jamaican food.

The Bezak family of Narberth, Montgomery County even embraced the picnic-type atmosphere by having a picnic lunch on a blanket.

Phil Gianficaro
The Bezak family of Montgomery County enjoying a picnic lunch at the third annual OneEarth ReggaeFest at SteelStacks on Saturday.

The food vendors offered fare to satisfy every palate: Cubano X-Press, Island Noodles, Kona Ice of Allentown, Kou Kitchen, Movement Moves Media, Slabs and Crabs, The Taste Smokers, The Udder Bar, Travelin’ Tom’s Coffee of Lehigh Co. in addition to D&S Caribbean Kitchen.

Chip and Barbara Holcomb of New Jersey enjoyed fare from Slabs and Crabs.

“Free music and great food,” Barbara said. “Life doesn’t get much better than this.”