Reading, PA and the Berks Jazz Fest

For many years, I traveled to Reading, PA on business regularly to visit a supplier to the company for whom I worked.  At that time, the Vanity Fair factories were closed but the VF Outlets were still going strong.  They were true outlets, not like the present ones that are basic company stores.  The business I called upon was Arrow International which was formed from Rockwell International’s subsidiary, Arrow Products Division .  Arrow had made knitting needles/accessories for the garment industry in town but they were going to close when VF was downsizing.  Fortunately, four horsemen, in the form of management, came to the rescue and formed Arrow International.  Their goal was to transform the company into a medical device supplier focused on catheters.  They were wildly successful.  One of the owners was my friend, Jerry Holleran.  This was a true American success story of people taking a risk and becoming successful.

Recently Brenda and I travelled to Reading, PA to visit our friends whom we had not seen in many years — Jerry and Carolyn Holleran.  We discovered that their newish home was a work of art in and of itself.  In addition to being beautiful, it was awarded LEAD Gold designation. It includes a cistern for capturing and using rain water, solar panels, floors and counters that are renewable, and multiple energy saving concepts including the landscaping which Carolyn referred to during the winter as her Moonscape.  Here is a picture of their beautiful home.

Holleran home

Many years ago we had visited with Jerry and Carolyn to attend the Berks Jazz Fest which now covers two full weeks in April.  What a wonderful event!  This year we were treated to Keiko Matsui, classic jazz pianist,


( and Rick Braun, jazz trumpet, who provided a tribute to Chet Baker (

Rick Braun

According to the Reading Eagle, this year’s program brought in more than 40,000 attendees.  The hotels were full and restaurants packed with visitors.  The Eagle reported that the festival began in 1991 as a way to draw tourists into the region during a typically slow period for local hotels. It started as just a weekend, but in 2000 organizers decided to extend the event over 10 days in celebration of the 10th anniversary.

A local was quoted in the paper as saying, “People talk negatively about Reading, but visitors come here and they love it. They love how they’re treated — the spirit of this area, the people here and the real positive vibes they experience.””  We definitely agree!

So, for those of you who love all forms of jazz, mark you calendar for the 28th annual Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest to be held April 6-15, 2018.  The lineup and schedule will be announced in November.  Be sure to save the dates and plan ahead.


For those of you who love art, you must be sure to check out Goggle Works ( during your Reading stay.

The facility is a 145,000 sq.ft former industrial center in downtown Reading that has been converted into an artist center complete with a café bistro, artist store, exhibition galleries, demonstration studios, rental space for artists, etc.  Reportedly, there are occasions when you can witness a piece of art glass being formed while bidding on it during the process. The name Goggle Works comes from the facility’s former use as a manufacturing site for goggles, lens, and other safety equipment.




Reading is also home to some very nice dining options, including one of my old favorites in Green Hills — Dans.  On business trips to Reading, I always enjoyed dining at what was then called Green Hills.  It is now relocated, but is still know for its quality.

Dans at Green Hills signTheir website points to the long-standing history of this establishment. “Opened in 1989, Dans Restaurant has been well know as one of the best restaurants in Reading, PA. Now located at 2444 Morgantown Road, Dans at Green Hills serves a contemporary American cuisine with a French influence.”



So, when you visit Reading, enjoy the jazz, the art, and the good food and tell them that Russell sent you.

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Having decided to "retire", I am embarking on a new venture focused on travel, trips, history, wonderful food and wine, and fun. Hopefully you will be entertained, enlightened, and enriched with my posts from the mid-atlantic to overseas.

2 thoughts on “Reading, PA and the Berks Jazz Fest”

  1. Great blog! We will keep Reading in mind as we travel. Last week we went to Lake City, SC for the. Art Fields Festival. Had a great time. Did you ever attend?


    1. We never attended, unfortunately. Did go to the one new Bluffton (near Hilton Head) one time. Hope you guys are doing well. My golf game is deteriorating.


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