The Beach Boys are headlining the Lancaster Festival this year, performing with the Lancaster Festival Orchestra on July 29. (

Fun, Fun, Fun Even Minus the T-Bird: the 2017 Lancaster Festival July 19-29

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On the evening of Thursday, July 20, the Lancaster Festival Orchestra will play a soul-stirring set of songs in St. Mary’s Church to celebrate their 30 years of involvement with the Lancaster Festival.

“The atmosphere of the church lends itself to the orchestra’s music – this big, cavernous space filled with sound,” said Ken Culver, the executive director of the Lancaster Festival, which is kicking off Wednesday, July 19 and running through July 29. “Our conductor, Gary Sheldon, has picked some of the best loved pieces that the orchestra has played in the past for the performance.”

2017 marks the 33rd Lancaster Festival; a sprawling, two-week art-centric affair that features everything from intimate musical performances to ventriloquist acts to art classes for kids to a performance by the one and only Beach Boys.

Culver said that the return of the Beach Boys (who also played the festival in 2011) corresponds directly with the festival’s intention to look back on the past 33 years of its existence.

“In honor of the orchestra’s 30th anniversary, we decided to look back through some favorite (musical acts) from the past,” he said. “And clearly, the Beach Boys were the biggest one, and when we reached out to them, they agreed. They’re the only group that we’ve ever had back.”

The Lancaster Festival is marked by a number of large concerts, which take place throughout the two weeks of festivities, but principally on the festival’s two Saturday nights. This year the festival welcomes the Beach Boys and The Mavericks (an eclectic act that pulls from the sonic traditions of rockabilly and Tex-Mex and everything in between,) for those two big weekend performances.

Culver said that every year the festival books a cover band of some type – a spot which is being filled this year by Fleetwood Mac tribute act Tusk; who will perform at the festival on Wednesday, July 26.

The bands are always accompanied by the orchestra for their performances, and for the Mavericks and Tusk, that’s a first.

Although live music is most certainly a draw to the enormous celebration of the arts in southeast Ohio, the festival is jam-packed with just about every type of art one could imagine.

“There is a lot going on; 11 days filled with about 60 events,” said Culver. “And most of those events are free.”

For a detailed list of events at this year’s festival, check out this link.