band plays on stage with people and Christmas tree in the crowd

Somerset counts down to 2023 with popular New Year festival

Light Up 2023 Bash features Prop Drop, food vendors, live music and new entertainment

Ring­ing in the new year on Foun­tain Square has quick­ly become a Som­er­set tra­di­tion, and 2023 brings more to love about this com­mu­ni­ty fes­ti­val. 

The Light Up 2023 Bash begins at 6 p.m. Sat­ur­day, Dec. 31 at Foun­tain Square and will include every­thing thou­sands of atten­dees have come to expect — local food trucks, spir­its ven­dors, a Prop Drop count­down, local music, and a dance par­ty to wel­come the new year.

The Com­pa­ny Band, a high-ener­gy ensem­ble that hails from Chica­go, has led this dance par­ty the last two fes­ti­vals, but mem­bers had a con­flict this year. Thank­ful­ly, they had an equal­ly excit­ing alter­na­tive wait­ing when See Som­er­set Tourism Direc­tor Leslie Ikerd came call­ing.

“We’re so excit­ed to wel­come The Next Lev­el Band of Char­lotte to our Light Up Bash this year,” Ikerd said. “They’ll per­form pop­u­lar songs from the decades that I know will keep us all danc­ing until the prop drops at mid­night.”

The Som­er­set Big Band — fea­tur­ing musi­cians from around the Lake Cum­ber­land area who per­form the big band era stylings of Frank Sina­tra, Judy Gar­land, Nat King Cole and more — kicks off the Light Up 2023 Bash at 6 p.m. They are fol­lowed by duo Hei­di and Ryan at 8 p.m., a Som­er­set cou­ple who per­forms every­thing from blue­grass to gospel to coun­try.

The Next Lev­el Band of Char­lotte will take the Lake Cum­ber­land Tourism stage at 10 p.m. and car­ry the crowd through the new year. This year’s fes­ti­val will be emceed by Kevin Wil­son with Som­er­set 106.

The music isn’t the only thing to keep fes­ti­val­go­ers occu­pied — while corn­hole is a Som­er­set fes­ti­val favorite and will be avail­able again for the Light Up Bash, the event will also fea­ture a new activ­i­ty: axe throw­ing.

“East Ken­tucky Axes will join us this year, bring­ing axes and a trail­er of four tar­gets for peo­ple who want to have fun test­ing their aim,” Ikerd said. “This activ­i­ty is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­i­ty, and I’m thrilled this local group has signed on to pro­vide enter­tain­ment at all of our fes­ti­vals in 2023.”

Foun­tain Square will be sur­round­ed by local food, drink and spir­its ven­dors, Ikerd said, and a large tent with tables and seat­ing will be avail­able for any­one who wants to escape the ele­ments. Fes­ti­val­go­ers are encour­aged to bring their own chairs and blan­kets.

Those who want to pur­chase alco­holic bev­er­ages must first pur­chase a $5 spir­it wrist­band, which be avail­able at any of the festival’s three entrance gates. Entrances are locat­ed at Judi­cial Cen­ter Plaza, the inter­sec­tion of Maple and East Mt. Ver­non streets, and the inter­sec­tion of North Main and Colum­bia streets.

“As always, safe­ty is our No. 1 pri­or­i­ty,” Ikerd said. “We are ded­i­cat­ed to ensur­ing every­one who con­sumes alco­holic bev­er­ages at our fes­ti­val does so safe­ly and legal­ly. Please drink respon­si­bly and make sure you have a safe ride home, and don’t for­get your ID.”

Safe rides to and from the Light Up 2023 Bash are spon­sored by The Law Office of Jere­my A. Bart­ley and pro­vid­ed by You Ride, We Dri­ve. Fes­ti­val­go­ers who live local­ly can pre-book trans­porta­tion by call­ing (262) 484‑6365. A dri­ver will be sched­uled to pick up cus­tomers from their loca­tion and take them to the fes­ti­val, with a return ride home at the time they choose.

Those who dri­ve to the fes­ti­val but feel they need a ride home also have that option. Just call the same num­ber, (262) 484‑6365, to sched­ule a ride. You Ride, We Dri­ve will be sta­tioned behind the fes­ti­val stage at the inter­sec­tion of Vine and West Mt. Ver­non streets to pick up those who’ve sched­uled a ride home.

Road clo­sures

Streets in the fes­ti­val area will close at 9 a.m. Sat­ur­day, Dec. 31 to ensure motorist and par­tic­i­pant safe­ty. Any­one who needs to do busi­ness on or near the square on New Year’s Eve should be aware and locate anoth­er route to access the area, Ikerd said.

All roads lead­ing into Foun­tain Square (East and West Mount Ver­non, North and South Main) will be closed around the square, as well as North and South Maple from the inter­sec­tion at Colum­bia Street to the Judi­cial Cen­ter park­ing lot. These roads will remain closed until the fes­ti­val is over, all bar­ri­cades are removed, and fes­ti­val area streets swept.

North and South Cen­tral Avenue will remain open for thru traf­fic. The fol­low­ing road­ways may be use­ful for detour­ing the fes­ti­val area: Cen­tral Avenue, Lime­stone Avenue, Oak Street, Vine Street, Craw­ford Avenue, South Richard­son Dri­ve, Mur­phy Avenue, Jarvis Avenue, Col­lege Street and Bar­nett Street.

Som­er­set May­or Alan Keck said he looks for­ward to wel­com­ing peo­ple down­town and cel­e­brat­ing the way the com­mu­ni­ty has come togeth­er to light up Som­er­set.

“When we set off on this jour­ney to tell our community’s sto­ry four years ago, we said we would light up Som­er­set, allow­ing it to shine by mak­ing the impos­si­ble pos­si­ble,” Keck said. “We’ve done that through so many com­mu­ni­ty projects. Our New Year’s Eve event is called the Light Up Bash as a sym­bol of that goal. I can’t wait to keep mak­ing that light shine as we enter the new year and work to make Som­er­set an even bet­ter place to live.”

Click here more infor­ma­tion about the Light Up 2023 Bash or fol­low @SeeSomersetKy on Face­book.

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