Sunny skies provided the perfect backdrop for the second annual Spirit Summer Festival that took place Saturday at Studevan Field in Darby Township and was attended by an estimated 3,000.
Presented by The Spirit newspaper and co-sponsored by a group of local corporations and businesses, the day’s events included vendors, a host of rides and amusements for children and adults, a variety of delicious foods, and musical acts, culminating with a performance by Russell Thompkins, Jr. and The New Stylistics.
“This is what I came to see,” said Davonna Breckinridge referring to the internationally-known recording stars. “I cannot believe how great they sound. They still got it, that’s for sure.”
And “got it” they did.
Dressed in matching red casual suits, the group performed classic hits such as “Betcha By Golly Wow,” “You’re a Big Girl Now,” “People Make the World Go Round,” “Stop, Look, Listen,” “You are Everything,” “I’m Stone in Love with You,” and, of course, “You Make Me Feel Brand New.”
Grammy nominee Thompkins’ clearly recognizable falsetto voice brought concert goers back to the 1970’s when the popular group had a string of number one hits. They have recorded worldwide sales in excess of $100 million.
“I close my eyes and I’m right back in high school,” said Margie Newman. “I loved them then and I love them now. That fabulous voice hasn’t faded one single bit.”
Local resident Chrystal Bell was grateful to be able to see the group. At the end of the concert she expressed her appreciation.
“I thank your newspaper for bringing this to our community,” said Bell to a Spirit reporter. “I enjoyed myself so much. This was just great.”
The festival, which debuted in 2015, is the brainchild of Spirit Publisher/Editor Paul A. Bennett. With assistance from a specially-formed committee and direct involvement from Darby Township and Sharon Hill officials, the event came off as planned.
Sharon Hill Mayor Harry Dunfee served as master of ceremonies throughout the day and said he was delighted at the turnout.
“I think it was a fantastic day,” Dunfee said. “Everybody had a great time. The rides went over well and the music was phenomenal. The family atmosphere was super and the festival promoted a sense of strong community.”
In addition to a plethora of inflatable rides, children enjoyed a climbing wall, pedal powered car racing, and a petting zoo provided by Lucky Farms. There was also a 50/50 raffle and $100 giveaway contest.
Monica Townsend was having a good time at the festival with her children and especially liked the variety of food.
“There is a lot to pick from as far as food is concerned,” said Townsend., “a little something for everybody. And, my kids are having a blast.”
Food trucks that served specialty foods such as macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, oxtail, a variety of fish, chicken, and other delicacies were available throughout the day.
Also available were traditional foods such as hot dogs, popcorn and water ice.
In addition to Russell Thompkins, Jr. and the New Stylistics, musical entertainment was provided by the Urban Guerrilla Orchestra and J. Wes Project.
Sponsors included Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, Gateway Health, SEPTA, The World Threadquarters, Crozer-Keystone Health System, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, NHS Human Services, Wells Fargo, Keystone First, PA529College Fund and Health Partners Plans.