Entertainment diversity has been the hallmark of the annual Somerfest celebration, and the 35th edition of the popular festival should not disappoint.
The festival is spread out over the grounds of the Philip Dressler Center for the Arts at 214 S. Harrison Ave., Somerset.
The event features entertainment on two stages, food vendors, crafts, art and a special children’s area.
The arts festival opens at 7 p.m. Friday with a parade on Main Street. Festivities continue through July 21.
Michael Oliver, Laurel Arts executive director, said that a blend of local and national entertainment has made the festival a success over the years.
“This is one of the most highly anticipated weekends in Somerset because many people use Somerfest as a pseudo-homecoming of sorts,” Oliver said. “People return and see people they have not seen all year to rekindle old friendships.”
Oliver said Somerfest adopts a different theme each year, and the 2013 edition will have a Wild West flair.
Festival hours are 7 p.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. July 21.
Organizers expect as many as 10,000 people to attend over the three days.
Admission to Somerfest is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for children ages 5 to 12. Those younger than 5 are admitted free.
Parking will be available at Somerset Area High School, 645 S. Columbia Ave. Shuttles will be available to Somerfest.
“The shuttle runs about every 15 to 20 minutes and is free,” Oliver said.
The first evening’s big opening, the Somerfest parade, feature EMS and fire company equipment and personnel, marching bands, floats, civic groups, church organizations, Scout troops, twirlers and more.
“It takes about one hour to get all the units through the parade,” Oliver said.
The near-continuous music will begin Friday evening with folk singer Randy Myers, the rock of Split Resistance and the classic rock sounds of Nixon Pit Crew.
“We have a mix of styles,” Oliver said. “We pride ourselves on our variety, and the schedule is jam-packed with live entertainment.”
Highlighting Saturday’s lineup are area groups such as The Cash Review, a Johnny Cash tribute band; D’Verse, a Celtic group; and the Corn Liquor Saints String Band.
“Corn Liquor Saints String Band play what they call new grass music,” Oliver said. “The best way to describe it is a blend of classic rock, country rock, gospel and modern country.”
Other bands performing during the evening will be Crew of the Half Moon, an indie/folk band; and Painted by Millions, a rock band. Tuesday’s Gone, a North Carolina-based Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band, will perform at 9 p.m. under the main tent.
“These guys look, sound and act just like Lynyrd Skynyrd,” Oliver said. “They are spot-on in their tribute to the great Southern rock band.”
Entertainment for July 21 will feature the Youth Musician Showcase from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. The event is an opportunity for youngsters to demonstrate their talent.
“Participants, whether a solo act or a group, must sign up, perform and be judged,” Oliver said.
“The judges will then select a winner, who will perform on the tent stage prior to the grand finale later that evening.”
The final act at 7 p.m. will feature the Gizmo Guys, a comedy juggling show.
“This is a great variety act that audiences of all ages can relate to and enjoy,” Oliver said. “It truly is wholesome family entertainment.”
Vendors will be selling a wide variety of festival foods such as corn dogs, hot sausage sandwiches and pizza.
“Some of the most popular foods are the barbecued pulled pork and Thai food,” Oliver said.
“Our Thai vendor has been with us for more than 20 years. But no matter what people choose, they get a good value for their food dollar.”
The children’s area will be open Saturday and July 21 with free activities.
Little buckaroos will be able to have their photos taken while standing behind Western-style cutouts, as well as enjoying traditional activities such as arts, crafts, face painting and finger painting.
“They also will have a chance to see Ramblin’ Ray’s Wild West Show, which will feature singing, dancing, storytelling and comedy,” Oliver said.
Fun and food
What: 35th annual Somerfest.
Where: Philip Dressler Center for the Arts, 214 S. Harrison Ave., Somerset.
When: 7 p.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. July 21.
Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and $2 for children.
Information: 443-2433 or www.laurelarts.org.