New Kensington Community Days gives crowds, performers a chance to see revamped Memorial Park
New Kensington's Community Days celebration isn't just a favorite with those in the Alle-Kiski Valley. Take it from Jack Hunt, better known as Johnny Angel.
“As an entertainer, we have special gigs that just bring out the best in us. New Ken is one of them,” says the lead singer of the popular oldies band, Johnny Angel and the Halos.
“We always look forward to coming back to New Ken, it's fun to see all of our old friends. We have a lot of fond memories of the New Ken area and the beautiful people of the area.”
Those at Community Days will have the chance to see Johnny Angel and the Halos perform June 22 at the festival at Memorial Park.
Other performances at the three-day festival include Jimbo and the Soupbones, Sourmash, Ovation School of Dance and Jeff Jimerson and Airborne.
Community Days takes place from June 21 to 23. Admission is $2, and proceeds benefit the New Kensington Volunteer Fire Department.
The three-day event has a wide appeal, Hunt says. That includes rides for kids, food booths, crafts and vendors and, of course, music.
“We have been performing now for nearly 50 years and have seen and performed at communities all over the state. The New Ken fest is still one of our favorites,” says the North Side resident.
Hunt says he and his band will showcase new material, and play some of their traditional songs and plenty of fan favorites. All will share something in common — the ability to play to a spirit of community.
“Music has always been a part of festival success ever since the beginning of our great nation,” Hunt says. “Music has a way of bringing everyone together, always has and always will.”
James “Jimbo” Jackson — of Jimbo and the Soupbones, which will be the featured entertainment on opening night (June 21) — considers the band fortunate to have so many great musicians in the area from whom to learn the ins and outs of the business.
“We absolutely enjoy having an opportunity to play for a crowd of family and friends. Most of us were born and bred in this valley,” he says.
According to festival co-chair B.J. Kersey, this year's event offers the same favorite attractions, just more of them, as it continues to grow.
“This is, by far, the biggest event in our area, even in the tri-city area,” he says. “It's a nice family atmosphere, so everybody can come down and enjoy.”
Kersey credits the city park with helping to create a welcoming weekend of family fun. “I don't think there's too many places around here that offer that kind of atmosphere,” he says.
He notes that the park, too, has been seeing progress. Those advances lend themselves to a successful festival.
“This year, there's been a lot of work done on the park,” he says, noting the bridge, pavilion and restrooms, which have been replaced.
“Everything's back in there, and it's started to shape back up. The city officials have managed to get a lot done down there, and it's really helped us and helped the park.”
The event, now in its second decade, started out as a fireman's carnival in downtown New Kensington. It is also a fundraiser for the many community organizations that set up as food vendors at Community Days.
“It's mostly all homemade food, made right there,” Kersey says. “We've got a great, big selection. In the past years, they've really increased in number.”
For Community Days newcomer Jeff Jimerson, known for singing the national anthem at Pittsburgh Penguins home games, the opportunity to play at the festival with his band, Airborne, is a welcome one.
“I'm looking forward to it,” the Wexford musician says. “I actually made a conscious effort to do more outdoor events.”
He and his band will perform June 23, offering up a mix of today's music, '80s and '90s tunes and Motown hits.
As with the entire festival, he says Airborne's set should offer something for the whole family. He even plans on bringing his 9-year-old son Colin.
“You can have a little 6-year-old upfront dancing away and you can have their grandparents in the back,” he says. “It's really neat when you get to do gigs like this.”
Julie Martin is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates notebook: Kang settling in to comfort zone
- Subway suspends ties with spokesman after raid at home
- Homestead man wanted on child sex trafficking charges nabbed in Mississippi
- Uber lowers fares in Pittsburgh
- Starkey: Burnett writing incredible final chapter
- Broad-based tax increases off-limits, GOP leaders tell Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf
- Mother of Wilkinsburg toddler found dead in ravine charged with her murder
- Policy to suspend employees with felony charges does not apply to Kane
- ACLU asks Butler County developer to drop fracking-related lawsuit
- Penn-Trafford summer camps focus on specific topics
- Alvarez’s walk-off single lifts Pirates over Padres