Mars New Year Festival 2023

MARS NEW YEAR Plans for Out-Of-This-World Festival

NASA Contributes to the Event with a Passion for Mars

June 9, 5-10 p.m. and June 10, 12-10 p.m.,

Downtown Mars, PA

The event features STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) educational activities for all ages, as well as entertainment, food, community vendors and more. The Mars New Year Festival is a community event held on the streets of Mars, PA that celebrates our fascination and curiosity with outer space, and humankind’s journey to the moon, Mars, and beyond.

Throughout the family-friendly festival, a variety of highly esteemed professionals from NASA will share their passion for space and the planet Mars. NASA is bringing a variety of artifacts including an 8-wheeled Mars rover, sample tubes, rock cores, and graphic novels, among other interesting space-related items. Speakers will also have the opportunity to share topics related to space and the planet Mars. 

“The festival will get attendees fired up and inspired about the journey to Mars. Come and meet the people and their creations that are helping to make this happen,” says John Donehoo, Chairperson of the Mars New Year Committee. 


  • Airforce
  • Armstrong
  • Armstrong Comfort Solutions
  • Carnegie Science Center
  • CCA – Techworks (Commonwealth Charter Academy)
  • City of Asylum
  • Civil Air Patrol, Pennsylvania Wing
  • Coherent
  • Drone Addiction
  • Girl-on-the-Hill STEAM Builders
  • Karski-Spokane Orthodontics
  • Mars Historical Society
  • Mars Robotics
  • Military Community Support Project 
  • Moonshot Museum
  • NASA
  • PA Army National Guard
  • Pittsburgh-Butler Regional Aiport and AirQuest Aviation
  • Pittsburgh Glass Center
  • Pittsburgh Space Command #473
  • PPG
  • Society of Women Engineers
  • U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting


  • Hot Shot Dogs
  • Lori Donehoo 
  • Global Street Foods
  • Mazzotta Winery
  • Mobile Chef Boardwalk
  • Mobile Chef International
  • Mobile Chef World Fusion 
  • Nostalgia Concessions
  • Stick City Brewing 
  • The Snowman


  • Armstrong
  • Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau
  • First Energy Foundation
  • Grable Foundation
  • Planet Mart

  • Advance Community Church
  • Airquest Aviation
  • Butler County Chamber of Commerce
  • Butler County Community College
  • Butler / Cranberry Eagle
  • Coherent
  • Consolidated
  • Fire Safety & Alliance
  • Fleming Insurance
  • Mars Area Public Library
  • Mars Bank
  • Mars Historical Society
  • Mars Robotics
  • Pittsburgh-Butler Regional Airport
  • Quality Gardens
  • Regional Learning Alliance
  • Rich-Mar Rotary
  • St. John Specialty Care Center 
  • Tepco
  • Vogel Disposal Service


Additional Information

Park & Ride Shuttle

Park at the Mars High School on Route 228 and ride the shuttle directly to the festival entrance, on Marshall Way and Grand Avenue. The shuttle will run from 4:30-11 on Friday, and 11:30-11 on Saturday.

Lego Challenge

Go from scattered parts to launch-ready! Form a team of up to 6 individuals and build a pre-selected LEGO set with the fastest time to win the CASH PRIZE! Age groups: 6 yrs. and younger, 7 to 15 yrs., 16 and older. Register your team at this link. 


NASA involvement:

Throughout the festival, a variety of highly esteemed professionals (bios linked here) from NASA will share their passion for space and the planet Mars. NASA is bringing a variety of artifacts including an 8-wheeled Mars rover, sample tubes, rock cores, and more. Speakers will share about topics related to space and the planet Mars. 

“Journey to Mars” Immersive Exhibit:

Thanks to NASA, the festival will feature an immersive exhibit where attendees can hear and see all about the planet Mars. Did you know sound works differently on Mars than it does on Earth? Mars has a different atmosphere than Earth, so sounds on the Red Planet would sound a bit different and be more muffled. Hear the Sounds Of Mars, navigate and Explore with Perseverance, and learn about the Artemis Generation and the Technologies NASA is Advancing to Send Humans to Mars.

Highlighted STEAM Exhibitors:

Try out the U.S. Airforce virtual reality flight simulator obstacle course. Make an electronic greeting card with the Society of Women Engineers, learn about evaporation with Armstrong Comfort Solutions, or create stomp rockets with the Carnegie Science Center. Sit in the Civil Air Patrol’s mini jet, learn about coatings from PPG, or check out the Girl on the Hill Makerspace.


Art Components:

Artwork from Mars Area and Washington County high schools will be on display in a space-themed art gallery for guests to peruse. First Edition Mars New Year comic books, created by a group of students, will be on display and available for purchase. The “Cosmic Books” tent will feature, among others, Jasmine Warga, Author of “A Rover’s Story,” and Elaine Kachala, Author of “Superpower? The Wearable-Tech Revolution”. 


  • Carnegie Science Center’s “Build it to Blastoff,” Science on the Road Show will be presented twice on Friday evening in the auditorium of Advance Church in Mars. The show, sponsored by NASA, covers the Artemis missions and, ultimately, humanity’s return to the moon then onward to Mars.
  • Hot Wheels from Pittsburgh Glass Center consists of artists that conduct glassblowing demonstrations and talk about the art and science of glassmaking.
  • Friday night’s band, Velveeta
  • Saturday night’s band, Time Tested – Since 2009 these guys have been playing popular venues in Western PA, Erie and Ohio. Johnnie Kovack (Lead guitar) and Jeff Lancaster (Bass) are neighbors in Mars PA. Mark A Salamacha (drums) harmonizes with his son Mark B Salamacha (guitar, lead vocals). The Salamacha’s reside in the North Hills. The band plays classic rock favorites that have survived the test of time. These are the men of TIME TESTED. 
  • Drone shows on both Friday and Saturday nights at 10PM


Costume Contest:

Best dressed Martian or space themed participant wins! First prize is $100, second prize is $50, and third takes home a Mars New Year prize pack. Age categories are 0-12 years old and 13+ years old, and new for this year- the pet category! 


Kids Zone

Mayor Gregg Hartung and community-member Mary Snow have both agreed to sit in the dunk tank at the Kids Zone, and will be dunked if $1000 is raised for their charities of choice. Especially for the littles, the space themed soft play is a great space for toddlers to enjoy the festival. Additionally, the inflatable UFO is bound to be out of this world! 


STEAM Challenge:

Students (grades 3-12) had to answer the question, ‘you and 99 others have been sent to live on the planet Mars, you must contribute to your new community, how will you best use your talents? Will you help the colonists survive or thrive?’ A number of students will be at the festival presenting their projects and the awards will be announced on the stage. 


Food and Drinks:

Food vendors from Mars and throughout the region will be on site selling food. Drink vendors include Stick City Brewing and Mazzotta Winery. “Water from Mars,” canned water will be on sale during the festival. 


JeepFest Collaboration:

It’s going to be a fun-filled weekend in Butler County, PA! Not only is it the Mars New Year Festival, but it’s Jeepfest, too! Butler is the Birthplace of the Jeep®, and Jeep-enthusiasts will gather for all things Jeep throughout the weekend. One of the activities of JeepFest is Jeep & Seek, and our festival is a destination. 

Jeep & Seek participants will snap a photo of/with the Mars drone or the Mars Spaceship. Celebrate the birthplace of the Jeep all the way from MARS while you’re in town. Make sure to see Diehl’s EV Jeep that will be on display at the festival, and snag an alien rubber duck, too!