Happy Valley Music Fest won’t be back this summer, but organizers of the State College summer music festival are making plans to return with a bigger and better event in 2022.
Like most everything else, the festival did not take place last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Todd Wagner, whose Lucky Dog Management took over organizing the event in 2018, initially hoped it could be held this year.
But uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and related restrictions until very recently meant there simply wasn’t enough time to do all that needed to be done for a multi-act festival.
“With the downtown really being shut down until the end of May and not being able to have any events until right around this time, or even to be able to apply and go through [the process], time had just run out on us,” Wagner said, adding that the festival would also have to plan for additional logistical challenges because of the pandemic.
“Being downtown, it’s so hard to flip it all together that quickly anyway by shutting down streets and all of that. We really didn’t have any options. We did go looking for some other options and, regretfully, time just wasn’t on our side, both with landing another venue as well as wrapping up sponsorship and making sure we could come out best foot forward.”
Lucky Dog Management was awarded $30,000 tourism grant for the event this year from the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, but Wagner said he elected not to take the funds as the pandemic situation remained uncertain. Happy Valley Music Fest applied again for this year’s tourism grants, which are expected to be announced sometime this month.
“We put our sights to 2022,” Wagner said. “We feel we have some big things on the rise and we’ll have the right amount of time to flesh out some of those things… like securing the proper venue, being able to grow our sponsorship and hopefully come out with a bigger and broader festival and one that’s sustainable.”
Started in 2006 as Summer’s Best Music Fest by the Downtown State College Improvement District, the festival has grown over the years into a two-day event with local acts and national headliners in various outdoor locations around downtown State College.
When it was last held in 2019, Happy Valley Music Fest featured a dozen acts, including headliners 10,000 Maniacs and JJ Grey & Mofro, as well as food trucks and a beer garden.
While a number of artists are eager to play shows this summer, Wagner said that the return of full tours next year will provide more availability and options.
“I would expect in 2022 you’re going to see the big tours out and then that gives a lot more opportunity for a lot of the acts we are looking at,” he said. “We do expect to see it coming back in 2022 strong as it’s already starting to ramp up here in 2021.”
Wagner anticipates preliminary details on the 2022 festival to be announced later this summer.
“We’ll work hard with this additional time and expect bigger things to come,” he said.