A Bear’s Picnic

HUGHESVILLE – The eighth annual Bear’s Picnic Music Festival will be held Aug. 1 through 5 at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds.

Festival promoter Ed Ehrsam bills A Bear’s Picnic as “a family-oriented music festival featuring a variety of local and national bands, arts, crafts, camping, children’s activities, and much more.”

“[It] will be certain to whet the palate and soothe the soul,” said Ehrsam.

Partners Ben Ehrsam, Ed Ehrsam (Ben’s father), and Sean O’Leary started A Bear’s Picnic in 2006 after years of “attending, working and promoting festivals across the country,” Ed Ehrsam explained. The three men learned from the promoters they worked with, gleaning “what worked, and what did not,” Ehrsam said, adding “we had a desire to produce a family event that included meaningful music, a relaxing atmosphere, and a safe environment for everyone.”

The first Bear’s Picnic music festival was held at Friendship Park in Milton, and returned in 2007. After only two years, it became obvious that the event was outgrowing its venue, so it was moved to Lincoln Park in Laurelton (west of Lewisburg) where it remained for a total of five years.

This year marks the first time the festival will be held at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds. Ehrsam said the administrative staff behind the fairgrounds “has been very accommodating” and that he and his fellow promoters “look forward to a productive relationship for [themselves] and the community in the years to come.”

In addition to his fellow promoters, Ehrsam credits the success of the festival in part to “all of our families, a lot of good friends, good staff and good volunteers.”

A music festival wouldn’t last eight years, however, without good music. “The event showcases a variety of music genres to enjoy including jam, blues, rock, country, folk, funk, bluegrass, jazz, and reggae,” said Ehrsam.

This year’s lineup includes acts like Willie Jack & the Northern Light, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Cabinet, The Kind Buds, and Lumpy Gravy, all of whom have played each of the seven previous Bear’s Picnic music festivals. Artists like singer-songwriter David Gans, MiZ, Stackabones, Mystery Fyre, Dark Star Orchestra, Viral Sound, Citizens Band Radio, Still Hand String Band and Backwoods Experiment will make a return appearance, and the following artists will be new to “A Bear’s Picnic” stage this year: The Wailers, John K. Band, George Porter Jr. & Running Pardners, Mark Karans Buds, The Fall Risk, Goosepimp Orchestra, Mark Diomede and the Juggling Suns Project, The Bullbuckers, Rumpke Mountain Boys, and Sam Cutler. “Even more acts will be announced soon,” said Ehrsam.

“In addition to the great music, the festival atmosphere brings with it a wide array of food, art, live painting and craft vendors,” said Ehrsam. New to 2013’s festival will be a morning yoga workshop, multiple instrumental workshops and “The Grateful Gallery Tour,” “a rock ‘n’ roll art gallery featuring art from the early ’60s to present day, which will display a lot of rare originals and prints from artists such as Jerri Garcia, Micky Hart, Billy Kreutzman, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, John Warner, Richard Biffle and Mike Dubois,” Ehrsam said.

For younger attendees, there’s the “Bear Cub Den,” a children’s activity area led by Mike Turk, a certified teacher in Vermont for ten years, and Kathleen Ehrsam, who has been a pastor for thirteen years. “In store is arts, crafts, an art contest, scavenger hunt, storytelling, face painting, a drum circle, daily music lessons, a children’s parade, and an onstage performance on Sunday,” said Ed Ehrsam.

Something else that Ehrsam said has been popular during past Bear’s Picnic festivals is the circulation of various artists for “impromptu performances, jamming with [attendees], and signing [autographs] at merch booths.”

2013’s festival will also host Strangers Helping Strangers, a food drive to benefit a local food bank. Festival-goers can get involved by simply bringing canned or non-perishable items, toiletries, personal hygiene or baby products to the merch booths. Anyone who brings 15 canned or non-perishable items will receive an event poster free, while supplies last.

Tickets may be bought online at, or at Old School Pizza in Williamsport, Jasmine-Aire Boutique in Sunbury, or at AshWorx in Lock Haven. Camping is on a first come, first serve basis. Anyone under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The eighth annual A Bear’s Picnic music festival will be held from Aug. 1 through Aug. 5 at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds. For more information about the festival, including directions to the fairgrounds and ticket pricing, go to