When the Summer Mixtape Festival was announced on April 16, the news was met with screams and squeals.
“I flipped out,” said Tabatha Pelletier of East Pennsboro Twp. “I started yelling and ran upstairs telling everyone that I had to go to this concert. I was like a little child.”
Held in Hersheypark Stadium Friday and Saturday, the festival features a selection of the who’s who of pop worlds, past and present. For Pelletier, the lineup was a dream come true. Her favorite groups, Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees and The Wanted were together for one weekend, and practically next door.
“I was not expecting Hershey to put on something this crazy,” she said. “We usually have good concerts, but I think this is really awesome.”
She isn’t the only one. New Kids on the Block fans Abbey Fisher of York County and Amy Sharpe of Palmyra were shocked.
“I couldn’t believe that they picked Hershey of all places,” Fisher said.
Sharpe agreed. “It was like, ‘that’s ridiculous,’” she said. A big New Kids on the Block fan, she heard the news via their fan club. “It was like God put them in my backyard,” she said.
“Chocolate and hot guys — it’s the perfect event,” Tomlinson said. “Everyone should be there, it’s going to be amazing.”
From the looks of it, people are heeding Tomlinson’s words. Fans are coming from across the United States and the Atlantic Ocean. A call on Twitter for Mixtape attendees revealed people from London and Germany, as well as California and Texas.
What’s drawing them? Partly the lineup, which includes, aside from the aforementioned boy bands, Kelly Clarkson, LL Cool J, The Fray and Carly Rae Jepsen of “Call Me Maybe” fame. There’s also the exclusivity of it — it’s the only North American concert for NKOTBSB (that’s the New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boy super-group) and the first reunion performance for 98 Degrees.
The reaction to the concert has been so positive that the two groups of VIP tickets, priced at $750 and $500, have sold out. The VIP tickets had such perks as after-parties with the bands, meet-and-greets and up-close and personal seats to the shows.
One of those tickets went to Amy Sharpe of Palmyra.
“A lot of people are just like, ‘That’s an insane amount of money,’” she said. “But I told them that I lucked out; this year I was in a place where I had the ability to pay for this, and I worked my butt off to pay for it.
“And … it is a lot of money,” she said. “But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
Pelletier also has VIP tickets, which made her “broke for months.”
She says a lot of people asked her why she would spend so much money. Her reply was always the same.
“This is something that, personally, to me, is worth it,” she said. “Everyone has their one huge thing for summer. Well, this is my one huge thing. I felt like this would be worth it for the experience.”
For Tammy Caccavo of Quakertown, a massive New Kids on the Block fan, the VIP splurge was a way to celebrate a big event — she and her husband’s 10-year wedding anniversary.
“I said, ‘Listen, it’s our 10th wedding anniversary; this is for us. Let’s just go big or go home,’” Caccavo said.
The festival is going to be more for Caccavo than her husband.
“I wouldn’t say he’s a fan [of New Kids on the Block],” she said. “But he’s my best friend. He’ll do anything to make me happy.”
The main appeal for him, she said, is seeing her transform into her teenager self. “He loves that,” she said. “He just eats it up.”
Caccavo is not the only one who turns into a screaming mess when a boy band takes the stage. Pelletier remembers crying during last year’s NKOTBSB concert when Backstreet Boy Nick Carter walked by. “
I lost it like a little girl,” she said. “My sister just looked at me like, ‘Really?’”
Sharon Doran of Lebanon had a similar reaction to seeing Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on the Block perform.
“I’m as big of a fan today as I was when I was 13,” the 37-year-old said. “Except now I don’t have my mom screaming at me to turn the stereo down.”