Beatlemania to return to downtown State College

The Cast of Beatlemania performs on the Old Main lawn in August 2013.
The Cast of Beatlemania performs on the Old Main lawn in August 2013. Centre Daily Times, file

The Cast of Beatlemania will return to the Old Main lawn on Aug. 9, for a show that fans have been flocking to for more than a decade.

The event is hosted by the Downtown State College Improvement District, with the goal of providing something fun, free and memorable for the community at large.

“Beatlemania has been running for 11 years,” said George Arnold, executive director of the DSCID. “You don’t need tickets, just show up. We will accept donations, but it’s about people enjoying the show.”

The concert has become a longstanding tradition in Happy Valley, attended by larger crowds every year.

“There’s no doubt, the Beatles are one of those classic groups that so many people have enjoyed their music,” Arnold said. “Their music has inspired so many. We’ve looked at, as an improvement district, ‘what do we do? Is this concert getting old?’ But we see Old Main lawn fill up when we bring Beatlemania back every year.”

Fans of the Fab Four have come to rely on the annual solid performance by The Cast of Beatlemania.

“Yeah, we’re definitely planning to go again,” said local Beatles fan and perennial Beatlemania attendee Chip Elliott. “I guess for us baby boomers, it’s kind of a trip down memory lane.”

Audiences from around the globe have always been captivated by the Beatles’ music, whether they’ve seen the original band perform or not. In October, Paul McCartney played the Bryce Jordan Center to a packed house, showing that the music of the Beatles is timeless and unifying down through each new generation.

“I didn’t get to see McCartney when he was here,” Elliott said. “(The Beatles) were responsible for a certain transformation to the music era that helped to define my generation.”

The DSCID has been hard at work prepping for Tuesday’s show while also providing lots of other events and services for the folks of Happy Valley.

“We kicked the summer off with our Summer’s Best Music Fest,” Arnold said. “That’s our largest event. We’re looking to develop that into a destination boutique music festival. We have a lot more events that go into the fall. Things are a bit slower in the summer, so we’re trying to bring something for the people.”

First Friday is one of the ways the DSCID looks to wake up a sleepy town. On Aug. 5, the theme is the “dog days of summer,” and people are encouraged to bring their dogs for activities that include an obstacle course on the lawn of the Faith United Church of Christ and a 7 p.m. pet parade.

Events like First Friday and the Sidewalk Sale on Aug. 6 all lead up to Beatlemania on Tuesday, Arnold said.

“If you’ve never seen the Beatles before, and some people laugh about goodness how old must this band be, it’s a little bit perhaps more of a replica of seeing a modern day Beatles. If the Beatles were all still together and touring together, they’d look a bit aged, right?,” Arnold said, laughing. “This group is very authentic in its representation. The instruments, the costumes, everything. They do three different costume changes and they play a good long show.”

In addition to summer events, Arnold said the DSCID tries to better the community all year long.

“The Downtown Improvement District exists to help promote and improve downtown State College,” Arnold said. “One of our goals is keeping downtown clean, so we have a team of three guys that go through starting around 4 a.m. on the weekends and 5 a.m. on the weekdays picking up trash, debris, vomit, things like that from the night before. Events are another major thing we do, like this Beatlemania concert, to help bring people into downtown State College and keep it fun and the place to be.”

Beatlemania is free to the public and requires no tickets for admission.

“I’m excited,” added Elliott. “It’s really entertaining. I’m thankful it’s something that you just show up and go to, and enjoy the lawn seating. We love it, every year.”