Aug. 13, 1997: Rain didn’t stop close to 17,000 people from attending the hottest concert of the summer at Montage Mountain — the Lilith Fair.
Singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan conceived the fair, which showcased female singers and performers. Sheryl Crow, Jewel, the Indigo Girls, Lisa Loeb, Shawn Colvin and Suzanne Vega joined her on the Montage Mountain Performing Arts Center that day.
As the women continued to rock on stage, the rain continued to fall.
“Who cares if it’s raining?” concert-goer Cheryl Meier of New Jersey told The Scranton Times. “It’s not like any of us are going to care what our hair looks like, now are we?”
In addition to the music, the fair featured an artisans area where guests could buy jewelry, hand-woven clothing and art. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club were on hand to talk to the thousands of attendees as well.
This marked only the second time the Pavilion was sold out for an event, following the Lollapalooza tour in 1992.
With a sellout crowd, Montage officials also encouraged people to carpool to the venue and warned those without a ticket to not come up the mountain.
Despite the suggestions, traffic to the venue was snarled because of the volume of people trying to reach the concert in the late afternoon. It was reported that some attendees were stuck on the Moosic exit ramp off of Interstate 81 for two hours.
Prior to the start of the day of music, McLachlan presented Women’s Resource Center director Peggy Ruddy with a check for $15,500. At each of the stops on the Lilith Fair tour, the fair gave a local women’s charity a portion of its ticket sales. Since the start of the fair in July, the organizers had donated more than $600,000.
The Lilith Fair continued in the summers of 1998 and 1999. In 2010, a revival of the Fair was put together, but it was not as successful as the original. Several of the early tour stops were canceled, and numerous headliners, including Kelly Clarkson and Norah Jones, left the tour.
In 2017, McLachlan spoke to Rolling Stone for an article marking the fair’s 20th anniversary. She said of the 2010 tour that “our intentions, in hindsight, weren’t really pure. It’s like, ‘Oh, this would be great to do this again. I’ve got a new record out and it worked last time.’ We didn’t look at how all those women who came to the shows in the ’90s now have children and jobs and mortgages.”
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Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 14 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He once won a chili cook-off with a kielbasa and three pepper chili, and he competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast