Middletown's 3rd Annual Rocktoberfest, a battle of bands, returns to Middletown Saturday singing a new tune thanks to improvements and changes being implemented this year.
Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roxane Ferguson said that this year's RocktoberFest will be the best one yet.
"We looked at what worked and what didn't over the last two years and decided to capitalize on the areas that worked best," Ferguson said. "I think everyone—from visitors to the bands—will be pleased with this year."
One aspect of the event that has not worked out well in previous years has been the band schedule, which would stretch out over two days. Last year, torrential downpours kept visitors away on the second day meaning that bands scheduled on Sunday were affected.
"The more we thought about it, the more it just made sense to plan it as a one-day event," Ferguson said. "I think it will be easier on everybody, but especially the bands who won't have to make travel arrangements for two days. It will also be easier for the bands to convince their fans to come out and support them for one day."
Nine bands are competing this year, including Harmonaris, Church, 3 Sheets, Parallel Dreams, the Josh West Experience, YGMH, The Terribles and The Remnants, who replaced Sixth Vengeance and Rob Henderson.
The band competition will also feature two divisions this year to accommodate both adolescent bands and bar-age bands (21 years old and older). They each get their own prize package this year as well. The winner of the older division will get a professional song demo video by PJ Video, a professional television interview through Positive Promotions, a CKuz Guitars gift certificate, custom guitar picks and a future gig at Sully's Tavern. The younger band that wins will play at next year's Peach Festival. It will also get the song demo video, the television interview and the gift certificate to CKuz Guitars.
"In the past, there was a cash prize but the feedback we got from the bands was that while cash is nice, it doesn't really help them," Ferguson said. "So, we're giving them ways to promote themselves now with future gigs, the video that they'll be able to show to venue owners and the custom guitar picks."
This year, the winner will also be decided entirely by Rocktoberfest visitors, rather than by judges. More than that, fanatics will also be able to buy extra ballots for $2 each this year.
"The first year we had judges," Ferguson said. "But, we found that the bands respond best to the fans."
This year, the event will also feature a corn hole tournament and a car show.
The corn hole tournament will begin at 3 p.m. for two-person teams. Registration will cost teams $20. The winner will get that money—and then some—back, though, since half of the registration fees collected will go to the champions.
The Brandywine Car Club is hosting the car club and Ferguson said that everything from hot rods to classics will be able to participate. Participation ($15 in advance; $18 at the event) includes a wristband and a beer ticket.
Proceeds from the event benefit local programs like Music on Main and MACC scholarships.
"The coolest thing about this year is the diversity we have in the bands," Ferguson said. "There's rock, classic rock, reggae, church music, rap and some acoustic music. There's really something for everybody this year.