Friday, June 20, 2014

The 2014 Pocono Raceway Festival

The Sherman Theater held their 6th Annual Pocono Raceway Festival throughout the town of Stroudsburg, PA on Saturday June 7th to celebrate the approach of the upcoming Pocono 400 NASCAR Race which is part of their Sprint Cup Series.  The event was sponsored by Kalahari Resorts and Conventions of the Poconos which is a resort designed to reflect the flavor of African Plains that will be locating their operation in the Monroe County, PA area in 2015. Activities were plentiful throughout the day and were focused throughout the Main Street area of the town which was blocked off from automobile traffic and was filled with pedestrians, vendors, musicians, and a carnival that included a Ferris wheel and other rides.

I arrived in town an hour or two before the festival began and gained the opportunity to explore the wonders found in the produce and other offerings presented at the weekly Farmers’ market held around the Courthouse Square area of the town. The market is operational every Saturday morning featuring items from local farmers, bakeries, and businesses including The Daily Bakeshop from Mountainhome, PA, Pocono Limited Winery from Stroudsburg, PA, and The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resorts in Shawnee on Delaware, PA who were there to share their wares and provide delicious samplings of their culinary delights while children played among the statuesque cannons created to memorialize the citizens of the area who have fallen in wars past.

After my visit to the market, I spotted Airbrush Artist Peter Ambush who was standing outside The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center creating an image upon a canvas. He was one of the center’s featured artists for the month of June and the Artists’ Reception focusing upon their work was scheduled to take place later that day. The artists sharing the galley with Mr. Ambush for its June exhibition  are Christine Medley and Ralph White and the winners of the 2014 PoconoArts Members’ Exhibition. I wasn’t sure if the plentiful events of the day would allow me to attend the reception so I ventured inside the gallery to view the work. The work proved to be as captivating as it was varied and I recommend visiting the center to experience the work as many of the pieces presented touches the soul of those who peer into its depth. The exhibition will continue to be on display until June 30th.

I eventually left The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center and made my way to the festival. I didn’t have far to walk as I was immediately met with a plethora of sound coming from the abundance of bands preparing to perform their sets upon the many stages placed throughout Stroudsburg, PA’s Main Street area. While I saw few of what might be considered “Race cars,” I did manage to spy a number of cars whose sporty featured created an interest from those who peeked through their windshields to imagine themselves in their interiors. I, myself, envisioned an excursion along a scenic vista somewhere along the Californian coast with a decadent woman indigenous to the region’s hedonistic culture moving auspiciously toward me while seated wantonly by my side. But, I digress.

I moved from the cars that were on display to partake the sight of sculpted Elephants stationarily roaming the streets as passerbys stopped to have their picture taken by staff members from Kalahari Resorts who were dressed in safari gear. The Pachydermian pleasure embodied in the countenance of those who posed for images to be shared with their friends and family members whom they could relay tales of their jungle adventures with some photographic validity brought a smile to many of the faces belonging to the spectators who viewed the joyful stampede of dreamers. I reluctantly moved from the spot to explore the many offerings presented by the merchants who had set up shop for the day.

These merchants included Dead Head Gifts from Luzerne, PA who offered a variety of Tie Dyed apparel along with incense and jewelry reminiscent of the 1960s. Beside their tent, Jazz Saxophonist Adam Neiwood and Percussionist Blake Flemming set up their instruments and began to play an extended improvised composition that flooded the thoughts of those who passed by with a series of extraneous measures filled with notes designed to heighten their perceptions of reality through their confused associations. It was one of those wow experiences that proved to be prevalent during the day.

Other merchants who were present that day included Zuzu Confectionery whose prize winning chocolate and fruitful delight pleased the palates of all who partook of their delectable morsels, The Saw Creek Soap Company who offer a variety of scented soaps made with natural ingredients, and Master’s Gutter Shield Systems who offers ways to make maintaining a home easier. While many more merchants set up booths throughout the festival grounds, other partook of a certain mobility in order to gain more contact with festival goers. These businesses included Ahh…Sheri Empanadas whose stuffed pastries are made from Artisan Flours with no GMO, Servo’s Computer Doctors who offer a number of services in repairing or maintaining computers to they’ll operation at their maximum capacity.

Art groups also shared their endeavors during the festival. These included The Theater Studio who are associated with The School of Visual and Performing Arts who will premier their new art gallery on Saturday June 21st with their exhibition titled, “An Artistic Movement,” The Pocono Black Box Theater who presents a variety of concerts and theatrical productions, The Altar who provide those who are seeking to enhance their for with body art an opportunity to do so, and Rockn Willys’ Tea and Hookah Lounge (aka The Happy Pipe) who provides those who enters their domain an opportunity to enjoy the art of relaxation. There were also a number of non profit organizations who encouraged those who attended the festival to reveal their better natures in providing aid in their worth while endeavors.

These non profit organizations included The Pocono Parents of Down Syndrome (PPODS) who serves as a support group for families and intervals who are living with the condition. They also work to reveal the abilities individuals with Down Syndrome have and how they can contribute their skills in ways that are meaningful to both the community and themselves. Their 6th Annual Buddy Walk/Family Fun Day is scheduled to take place on Saturday September 27th during the 2nd Annual Buddy Ride at The Dansburry park in East Stroudsburg, PA.  The group meets at The DES office the 4th Thursday of the month. Please explore their Facebook Page at for more information.

Along with the offerings from merchants, artists, and non profit organizations, there was music. The festival provided three stages upon which musicians filled every conceivable musical need a festivalgoer could have. The first stage was located near the corner of the town’s 6th and Main Street. It featured Randy Bigness and Friends which included Forbidden Dreams Except for the hard core earth shaking sounds of Forbidden Dreams that moved their audience deeper into the multilayered echoes embodied in every note they played, the majority of the performances reflected the bluesy ballsiness commonly associated with the qualities found in Mr. Bigness’ performances. This kick ass I don’t give a shit style delighted the crowd who lived each day to share the sentiments Mr. Bigness and his friends emanated throughout the day.

The second stage of the festival was located between the town’s 6th and 7th Streets in the alley where the Music in The Park Series takes place. A number of bands and musicians performed throughout the day but, unfortunately, I was unable to experience them all. These included The Juggernaut String Band and Brian Xander However, I did manage to catch the straight forward performance given by Kenny Scharlett of some simple country songs, the superbly crafted compositions rendered by the extraordinary Christian Porter, and Woodrow who is a duet consisting of Theresa Ratliff on vocals and Brian Bramkamp on vocals and guitar and has performed in a variety of venues include The Sherman Theater’s Living Room during their weekly Open Mic Nites which are held on Sunday evenings.

The third stage was located in Front of the Sherman Theater near the 5th street intersection. Again, I was unable to catch all of the performances that day which included Mike Miz and High Strung but I did experience The Ryan Alan Band whose kick ass country music pleased the crowd, The Quimby Mountain Band who also thrilled the audience with their no nonsense approach to their straight forward tunes, Joey and the T-Birds whose memorable melodies brought a newness to the nostalgic elements of the songs they composed so long ago, and Bruce in The USA who is a Bruce Springsteen tribute band that capture all the magic the famous musician and his E Street band became loved for.

In addition to the music and other happenings taking place during the festival, a carnival offering rides to children of all ages was present throughout the day. Many screams were heard as thrill seekers grew closer to their hysterical destinations while being swung into the air or being placed in horizontal orbits at dizzying speeds. Damn, it was fun. You’ll find more photographs taken during my day at the festival in the Pocono Raceway Festival 2014 Gallery at

The 2014 Annual Pocono Raceway Festival was presented as a tribute to the late Doctor Joseph Mattioli who was the founder of The Pocono Raceway which is located in Long Pond, PA.  The Raceway began in 1968 as a three-quarter mile track and later expanded in 1971 to a two and one-half mile track which accommodated 500 mile races such as the one presently presented by NASCAR. Due to many mistakes in its construction which led to some very serious financial difficulties, the raceway was closed but was later reconstructed during the 1990s. In spite of the current energy crisis in which oil and gasoline continues to be depleted at alarming levels, the Raceway continues to entreat automobile racing fans throughout the area and beyond. You can learn more about The Pocono Raceway by exploring their Facebook Page at

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