23 years ago, the Rec Park Music Fest was born. The budget was small in 1996, but the City of Binghamton, as well as local musicians and food vendors, were able to offer up some financial support and the event was such a success that organizers decided to give it a try again. And again. And as they say, "the rest is history."

The Rec Park Music Fest has been a West Side of Binghamton staple for nearly 25 years and is an event that Harper Stantz and her family attended almost every year of her life. Little did the Stantz family know that the 2018 festival would be Harper's last. On March 13, 2019, 16-year-old Harper lost her life after being hit by a drugged driver on Beethoven Street following an afternoon of playing tennis at Rec Park.

Jim Reyen, a local musician has fond memories of the times Harper and her family spent at the Rec Park Music Fest, "For as long as I can recall, The Stantz Family has been there, often in the front dancing, supporting the event and enjoying the music. It has also become tradition to toast the event, afterwards at Abel's, immediately following the takedown."

This year, to honor the light and the life of Harper, the Rec Park Music Fest will be renamed in her memory. According to Reyen, "The 23rd Annual Rec Park Music Fest will now be renamed The 1st Annual Harper M. Stantz Rec Park Music Fest! It brings me great joy to know that this Labor of Love will now honor the memory of such a wonderful person. The fest will help carry on Harper's message of light, love, hope, community, family, music appreciation, and adventure! The westside will certainly turn on their love light for a fun day of music this July!"

Rec Park Music Festival is a free and family-friendly event where you can grab a bite to eat and listen to music while the kids ride the carousel or play on the playground and will take place on Sunday, July 14th from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Interested in going? See the lineup for this year's Rec Park Music Fest here.

[via The Rec Park Music Fest Friends & Family/Jim Reyen]