BY TOM LAVIS
AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival, a three-day celebration of American roots music, is about to attract thousands of enthusiastic music fans to Peoples Natural Gas Park in downtown Johnstown.
It’s a busy time for the officials at the Johnstown Area Heritage Association who have been working long and hard to bring the region top-notch acts from across the country.
The festival will feature four stages during the musical extravaganza Friday through Aug. 4. It will encompass the park at 90 Johns St. as well as two expansive parking lots along Walnut Street.
“All vendors will be located throughout the festival site,” said Shelley Johansson, JAHA’s director of communications and marketing.
“They will be scattered throughout the stage areas, including being adjacent to the Atlantic Broadband Oilhouse Stage and the Polacek Pavilion.”
Walnut Street will be closed to traffic during the festival except for emergency vehicles and local deliveries.
“People will be able to walk the street from one venue to another,” she said.
Organizers say the biggest change in the 2013 edition of the festival is the earlier starting time of performances on the opening day and the earlier completion on the last day of the festival.
“We will be opening much earlier with a 1 p.m. start,” Johansson said.
The last show on Aug. 4 will conclude by 10 p.m.
“We have found that most people want to get home earlier on Sunday,” Johansson said.
But for those who want to party a little longer, the festival will feature late-night jams Friday and Saturday.
“After the last headliner acts finish playing Friday and Saturday, we will feature high-energy, late night bands each night at the Oilhouse Stage,” Johansson said.
It’s for people who aren’t ready to go home and be with others who feel the same way.
“It has been enormously successful and we will be bringing in two nationally known bands to help us make a big splash each of those evenings,” Johansson said.
Headliner acts will play the Bud Light Stage given the venue’s larger seating capacity.
“It’s our biggest area,” Johansson said.
Other acts will be taking to the Subaru Stage, which is under tent.
Two other stages, the Polacek Pavilion and the Oilhouse, will be used inside the park.
Because of the close proximity of the park stages to one another, no two shows will be presented simultaneously.
“When there is a performance on the Polacek Pavilion Stage, the folks in the Oilhouse VIP section can enjoy listening from there,” Johansson said.
“For those people coming to town who have been to the festival before, they will discover that the park’s footprint hasn’t changed much.”
Admission gates will be located at Johns Street across from Point Stadium and Walnut Street near the Prospect Viaduct.
The music festival will feature more than a dozen vendors that will offer festivalgoers a selection of foods ranging from ethnic foods to tasty desserts.
JAHA offers a varied menu with ample selections to satisfy most everyone’s taste and with little or no duplication.
Johansson said part of that variety will include more vegan and vegetarian dishes.
“We also will have some hand-churned, organic ice cream from Island Cow Ice Cream,” she said.
David Sapolich, owner of the Phoenix Tavern at 200 Broad St. in Johnstown, will sell one of his most popular dishes – the chicken ball.
“No matter where we go, people always like to come up and have their photo taken with our sign offering chicken balls,” he said.
Sapolich has no qualms about sharing his recipe. He combines oven-roasted chicken with homemade stuffing.
“We form the mixture into balls about the size of a baseball,” he said. “We then dip them into beer batter and deep fry them.”
Once cooked, it is placed over mashed potatoes and topped with chicken gravy.
Another favorite served by the Phoenix will be Sapolich’s Jacked-Up barbecue sandwich.
“It’s a pulled pork with Jack Daniel’s barbecue sauce,” he said.
Oakwood Restaurant at Laurel View, near Davidsville, will offer grilled turkey bacon Swiss sandwiches, grilled Reuben on marble bread, haluski, soft pretzels and gobs.
“I believe our pricing is in line with most festival pricing with nothing on our menu costing more than $8,” said Tim Leighty, front-of-the-house manager at Oakwood. “We are a nonprofit and participate because it gives us some recognition in the community.”
Returning for its fourth festival will be Clem’s Cafe Hardwood BBQ on Route 22 East in Blairsville.
“Another staple at the festival is the Crabcake Lady (Sherri’s Crabcakes of Camp Hill, Cumberland County), and people would be disappointed if they weren’t at the festival,” Johansson said.
Johansson said vendors also will offer traditional festival favorites such as hamburgers, hot dogs and fries.
For ethnic food lovers, there will be Greek selections, jumbo pierogi, stuffed cabbage, haluski, and more.
Exotic foods include a vendor who brings Thai food, such as red curry chicken, dumplings and spring rolls.
“The food is grand and fun, but the stars of the festival are the performers,” Johansson said.
A tented dining area will be located at Johns and Walnut streets.
Organizers are discouraging people from bringing their own lawn chairs.
Only certified service dogs will be permitted on the festival grounds.