Downtown Erie’s summer showcase of music, food, culture and art is back.
After being shuttered in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CelebrateErie is poised for a grand return to downtown Erie Friday through Sunday.
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The multi-day festival will go off rain or shine, featuring Erie-area vendors, musicians, performers, chalk artists and nationally-known musical acts.
CelebrateErie typically brings more than 200,000 people downtown over its three days.
All festivities are free and take place within a downtown footprint centered around State Street, between Fourth and Ninth streets.
Mayor Joe Schember said that Aaron Loncki — the city of Erie's marketing strategist and a key organizer of CelebrateErie — and other festival organizers “have been working hard to provide (attendees) a wonderful, memorable experience.”
Loncki said the festival will be a "diverse showcase of all things Erie … Food, family, art, music, business, and culture. Because it’s all about us.”
CelebrateErie features some new elements this year.
They include "Jam Sesh," a walk-up musical space for musicians of various backgrounds; a youth basketball tournament affiliated with the city's Police Athletic League; "walk-up" three-point basketball and cornhole contests; and a drum circle showcase.
If you’re planning to attend, here are some important things to know about the three-day festival.
For more information about the festival, including times and locations for specific performances/events, visit celebrateerie.com.
Food, art, vendors and more: Where are the CelebrateErie hot spots?
The Food District will be located in West Perry Square. Local local food trucks and food and beverage vendors will serve a diverse mix of meals and treats — from barbecue and tortillas to grilled sandwiches and ice cream — all day long.
What's there to eat?: CelebrateErie food vendors spread from Perry Square to North Park Row and upper State
The VNET Fiber Family District will be in East Perry Square, with the Metro T-Mobile Family Stage featuring dance and gymnastics acts, story time, children’s yoga, Erie Playhouse performances and other entertainment/activities.
The Marquette Savings Bank Chalk Walk, one of CelebrateErie's most popular attractions, will showcase nearly 30 vibrant chalk drawings created by local artists spanning a city block. Chalk Walk is located along State Street between Eighth and Ninth streets.
The Erie Insurance Marketplace is also along State Street, between South Park Row and Eighth Street. That's where you'll find vendors selling jewelry, hand-crafted glass and lots of other items; displays by artists and small businesses; and more.
The festival will also feature a number of artists crafting their works live, on the street at various locations and an artist gallery, curated by City Gallery, displaying works/talents of artists from throughout the Erie region.
There will also be various vendors set up throughout Perry Square.
Further, the Jefferson Educational Society will also offer a series of educational lectures and events at CelebrateErie, including a walking tour led by Erie Downtown Development Corp. CEO John Persinger; presentations on the history of lower State Street, Erie's new American population, Erie politics, Lake Erie/environmental protection and freshwater fishing.
Those presentations are at Erie City Hall, 626 State St. For more information, visit jeserie.org.
And if you need a haircut, CelebrateErie's got you.
A unique, on-the-street barbershop, coordinated by local barber Michael Hooks, will be set up between South Park Row and East Seventh Street, with a number of Erie-area barbers offering free haircuts to anyone who needs one — including students heading back to school soon.
Haircuts will be available Friday and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
Who’s rockin’ the Northwest Bank Main Stage?
CelebrateErie:Main stage headliners announced
Pop rock band X Ambassadors, hip-hop artists Ja Rule and Mýa, and rising country music star Jimmie Allen are the CelebrateErie headliners.
The festival’s main stage is located on State Street between Fourth and Fifth streets.
Hailing from Ithaca, New York, X Ambassadors take the festival’s main stage Friday night. The band’s hits include “Renegades” and “Unsteady” from their certified platinum album “VHS,” released in 2015. The group’s third full-length album, “The Beautiful Liar,” was released in 2021.
Renowned New York City rapper Ja Rule, whose debut album “Venni Vetti Vecci” dropped in 1999 featuring the single “Holla Holla,” performs at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Grammy Award-winning R&B singer Mya goes on before Ja Rule at 7:15 p.m.
Ja Rule has sold more than 30 million records worldwide and is a four-time Grammy nominee. His other hits include the “I’m Real” remix with Jennifer Lopez and “Always on Time” with Ashanti.
Mya is best known for the singles “Ghetto Superstar,” “Take Me There” and “Free,” as well as the Billboard Hot 100 topping, 2001 “Lady Marmalade” remake with Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Pink and Missy Elliot.
The song, featured in the movie “Moulin Rouge,” became the most successful airplay-only single in history and won the 2002 Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
Rising country music star Jimmie Allen will perform on the main stage Sunday at 8 p.m. during CelebrateErie’s final night.
Allen, nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy in 2022, released his debut album “Mercury Lane” in 2018 and became the first Black artist to launch a career with two consecutive No. 1 hits on country radio: the hits “Best Shot” and “Make Me Want To.” He also had a hit single this past spring with “Down Home.”
In addition to Celebrate Erie's main stage, the festival will feature four "district stages" downtown showcasing musical acts and performing artists from throughout the Erie area.
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What about parking?
City officials suggest several public parking locations within walking distance to the event since a number of streets in the festival footprint will be closed to vehicle traffic:
The Peach Street parking garage, 712 Peach St.
The Erie Parking Authority Garage B, 24 E. Eighth St.
The East 10th Street parking garage at 25 E. 10th St.
The West Ninth Street parking garage at 120 W Ninth St.
Handicapped-accessible parking is also available on the north side of West Seventh Street between State and Peach streets. Further, parking will be available on various side streets adjacent to the event.
Leave it home
Due to expected large crowds, city officials advise against bringing dogs or other pets unless the pet is a certified service animal. Main stage concerts are standing-room only, so people should not bring chairs. Bicycles, hoverboards, and skateboards are also not permitted in the main festival areas.
Main Stage acts
Six Year Stretch, 5:30 p.m.
First To Eleven, 6:30 p.m.
X Ambassadors, 8 p.m.
CEE Brown Experience, 5:30 p.m.
Mya, 7:15 p.m.
Ja Rule, 8:30 p.m.
Refuge, 5:30 p.m.
Brenna Bone, 6:30 p.m.
Jimmie Allen, 8 p.m.
Some CelebrateErie highlights
Chalk Walk: Located along State Street between Eighth and Ninth streets
Food District: Located in West Perry Square
VNET Fiber Family District: Located in East Perry Square, with the Metro T-Mobile Family Stage featuring various types of entertainment/activities
Erie Insurance Marketplace: Located along State Street, between South Park Row and Eighth Street, featuring various vendors, artists and small businesses
This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Celebrate Erie 2022 festival guide: Food, art, music, culture and more