Weekender

'Let’s make some music lemonade': Millheim festival rises from Karoondinha’s ashes

Kate Twoey of Pure Cane Sugar performs during Elk-Ha Fest in July 2017 at the Millheim Fire Company Grounds. The festival, which started as a local replacement to the canceled Karoondinha music festival, will be called The Millheim Ramble and take place on Saturday.
Kate Twoey of Pure Cane Sugar performs during Elk-Ha Fest in July 2017 at the Millheim Fire Company Grounds. The festival, which started as a local replacement to the canceled Karoondinha music festival, will be called The Millheim Ramble and take place on Saturday. Centre Daily Times, file

In the aftermath of the Karoondinha music festival fallout last year, a new festival has been born.

Last July, A-list names such as Chance the Rapper and John Legend were supposed to perform at Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park in Centre Hall, alongside local artists for the three-day event.

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A barn along 192 last year promoted Karoondinha, a music festival that was abruptly canceled. Abby Drey Centre Daily Times, file

But when the festival was abruptly canceled, the community did not give up on the idea of bringing people together through music. Tim Bowser, the owner of Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks, and local musicians banded together to put on an impromptu concert called “Elk-Ha” to celebrate the arts in the local community.

A year later, Elk Creek hopes to start a tradition.

Now dubbed The Millheim Ramble, the festival will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Millheim Fire Company Grounds.

With Karoondinha’s tickets originally selling around $300 for a weekend pass, tickets for The Millheim Ramble can be purchased for $25.

The festival’s lineup contains a wide variety of musicians. Mulebone, which specializes in traditional blues, rock ‘n’ roll group Ted McCloskey & the HiFi’s, soulful Pure Cane Sugar, folk artist Eric Ian Farmer and American roots-inspired band The Crooked Line are set to perform.

Farmer had been slated to perform at Karoondinha, and said he felt let down when he first heard that it had been canceled.

“I think I was like several others who were excited about the energy around Karoondinha,” he said. “Excited about all these big music names here in Central Pa. at the same time, to be part of that roster ... wow.”

Bowser, who was supposed to sell his craft beer at Karoondinha, realized that most of the local artists were scheduled to play on that Sunday, so he decided to create a festival in its place.

“I was glad that the Elk Creek folks came up. I’m appreciative of that,” Farmer said. “Here we have all these music lemons, let’s make some music lemonade.”

Despite taking a risk to put on a full festival three weeks in advance, Bowser was impressed with the response it got. When Elk-Ha was over, Kate Twoey, a singer for Pure Cane Sugar, announced from the stage that they were going to put on the festival next year, according to Bowser.

“So it kind of took a life on its own at that point,” Bowser said.

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Kate Twoey of Pure Cane Sugar performs during Elk-Ha Fest in July 2017 at the Millheim Fire Company Grounds. The festival, which started as a local replacement to the canceled Karoondinha music festival, will be called The Millheim Ramble and take place on Saturday. Phoebe Sheehan Centre Daily Times, file

In addition to live music, the Millheim Ramble will feature craft beer and local food from places such as EcoVents and Brazillian Munchies. Some of the profits made from the craft beer will go toward funding the Millheim Fire Company, according to Bowser.

“Elk Creek has been about the community since day one,” Bowser said.

As for the possibility of a Karoondinha 2.0, the idea is not off the table yet.

Despite 2017 being “one of the worst and most tragic years for live events,” Karoondinha festival creator Kaleena Rallis said in a recent email to the CDT, she remains “optimistic about the future potential to host a unique destination experience” in the Centre Region.

Formal studies are currently in the process of being completed, according to Rallis, that will help provide “the best guidance for all future plans.”

“We look forward to bringing something positive to this region and we will be making further announcements in the near future,” Rallis said.

If you go

What: The Millheim Ramble

When: 1-8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Millheim Fire Company Grounds, 103 N. St., Millheim

Info: www.elkcreekcafe.com

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