Local folk: Familiar faces make Taste a treat

By on May 18, 2016
Jeff Bragg (left) and Matt Wenger perform on East Main Street during a Second Friday last summer. Wenger, and possibly Bragg, will be performing at Taste of Lititz Friday, June 3. Photo by Stephen Seeber

Jeff Bragg (left) and Matt Wenger perform on East Main Street during a Second Friday last summer. Wenger, and possibly Bragg, will be performing at Taste of Lititz Friday, June 3. Photo by Stephen Seeber

Excitement is building for Taste of Lititz. The downtown celebration of local food, art, and music is a mere two weeks away.

Among the local musicians performing June 3 is Matt Wenger. He’s been a familiar face during Second Fridays and at the Lititz Farmers Market (he’ll be playing opening day for the market this Saturday), and he often partners with his friend Jeff Bragg. Both are 2015 grads, Bragg from Warwick and Wenger was homeschooled.

Wenger recently returned from his second semester at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, where he’s been following his passion for traditional music.

“Goddard’s low-residency college program is based on independent learning and has allowed me to study a wide range of subjects, all related to my main focus of American folk music,” he said. “Beyond that, I’ve just been gigging like usual and tryin’ to get out and see what there is to see while I’m still able to see it.”

Many in Lititz have compared him to Bob Dylan, but he steers clear of lofty correlations.

“I mean, I’d say people hear what they wanna hear, so let them hear what they wanna hear,” is his broad acceptance of such notions. As a young busker, he’s attracted to the uncertainties of performing on the street.

“Playing for townfolks can sort of be either hit or miss, but in certain places like Lititz there is usually always someone who comes up and starts singing along or something like that,” he said. “And me and my buddy Jeff Bragg have played around Lititz enough that a lot of people know us now, beyond just our friends.”

And that’s the intention of Taste of Lititz, a gathering of friends and neighbors amid the talents of friends and neighbors. It’s a Main Street party with more than 20 local restaurants selling tastes of their specialties, local wine and craft beers on the street, local artists exhibiting their work, and plenty of live music from rock bands to classical to barbershop quartets to drum circles.

Add to that mix street entertainers meandering through the crowd, fun games for all ages like street bowling and pretzel toss, and a silent auction, and you’ve got a downtown brimming with good cheer.

This is a pay as you go event. Food and beverages will be reasonably priced and in small quantities so people and sample a bit of everything, and tickets for games are $1 each. And all proceeds benefit Venture Lititz’s ongoing effort to enhance the downtown and greater Lititz experience for locals and tourists alike.

Oh, and expect a few surprises when you come to Taste of Lititz.

The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m., and is sponsored by Moravian Manor and Warwick Woodlands.

As for Wenger, and maybe Bragg, you can count on them to add their unique personalities to the festival.

“I know I’ll be there making some music somewhere, and it should be a nice day to be outside,” he said. “The craziest, most exciting things happen when you’re with or around other people.”

Some Wenger’s musical influences include Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Jerry Garcia, and the Grateful Dead.

Stephen Seeber is the associate editor of the Record Express, and a member of the Taste of Lititz event committee.

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