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Bath ‘spuds’ festival will take place with new name

The 2023 Bath Spuds and Suds summer festival, to be held June 24, will include some changes, prompting a renaming to the Spuds Lite Festival.

The first Spuds and Suds event was in 2016 and included a mix of music, good food and numerous vendors. Its success set the stage for an annual festival.

Spuds and Suds was held at the intersection of Chestnut and Northampton streets around the third Saturday in August, with parts of the streets closed for the day. Patrons jammed the two streets to eat, drink, listen to music and socialize with neighbors and friends.

The purpose of the celebration is to honor the long-standing local potato industry in and around Bath.

Potato farming began about 8,000 years ago in the South American Andes Mountains. Potatoes were brought to Europe in the 1500s, where they spread north and west, later reaching North America. The first potato patches were established around 1720 in New Hampshire. From there, the crop spread all over the American colonies and into Northampton County.

In 2021, the festival was canceled by a 4-3 vote of council due to safety concerns during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Greater Bath Area Chamber of Commerce, an arm of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, local business leaders and interested citizens lobbied to hold the event in 2021 - to no avail.

During 2022, Bath put together what was called Old Home Week, where residents and former residents were invited back to the borough for a weeklong celebration, culminating with the Spuds and Suds festival. The basis of Old Home Week was archived information from about 100 years ago when Bath leaders held the original Old Home Week.

Not to be denied in 2023, the popular festival has to get past another hurdle. Borough Manager Bradley Flynn said Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is expected to be working in the area of Chestnut and Northampton streets in August, which will take away that space for the festival in 2023 and possibly 2024.

Flynn said the event - renamed the Spuds Lite festival - will be relocated and is set for 1-6 p.m. June 24 at the Ciff Cowling Field on West Barber Street.

In other business at the March 6 Bath Borough Council meeting, the personnel, finance and administration committee reported on the number of Right to Know requests and their costs. This is now a monthly report from council. Flynn noted, the state Open Records Office agreed to limit unreasonable, lengthy Right to Know requests that are not specific and cover a number of years in Bath Borough.

Mayor Fiorella Reginelli-Mirabito noted Pennsylvania State Police Troop M, Bethlehem, Commander Lt. James W. Thomas Jr. will attend next month’s council meeting to address attendees and answer any questions residents have.

A number of residents attended this meeting, and last month’s council meeting, asking about the police services provided by the state police. The upset is a result of the discharge of a firearm Feb. 3 that damaged cars and reportedly sent bullets into a house. The state police are investigating.

Several residents requested a reassembling of the former borough department that was disbanded in the 1990s when council contracted with Colonial Regional Police Department. In 2018, Bath left CRPD due to unsustainable costs and contracted with the state police.

Flynn noted the state police evaluation was promised at the five-year mark of services in the borough. Flynn said he expects the Pennsylvania Department of Economic and Community Development will be evaluating the police services and issue a report.

At a recent council meeting, Seth Kelly, former state police commander, said he believed Bath has the best police services in the nation.

The next council meeting is 6 p.m. April 3 at borough hall, 121 S. Walnut St. It is a hybrid meeting, with both in-person and virtual options. Visit bathborough.org for the virtual meeting access codes.