Goshen News, Goshen, IN

June 16, 2013

Christian music festival returns to Nappanee

By DENISE FEDOROW
THE GOSHEN NEWS

— NAPPANEE — For the second year in a row, Amish Acres is the host site for WFRN Radio’s Friend Fest, scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

This year’s line-up includes TobyMac, Matthew West, Building 429, Peter Furler Band, Kari Jobe, Jamie Grace, Big Daddy Weave, Chris August, For King and Country, Rhett Walker Band, Moriah Peters, Finding Favour, Hyland, OBB, Carrollton (formerly known as “Mosteller”), 1 Girl Nation, Jason Dunn (Former Lead Singer of Hawk Nelson), An Epic No Less, Josh Reardon, Ryan Corn, Marie Miller, Seth Moorman and Loftland).

There will be three stages and every ticket to WFRN Friend Fest provides all access to Main Stage, Coffee House Stage, artist breakout sessions, Kid Zone and  the exhibitor tent. Artist breakout sessions will feature question-and-answer sessions and instruction periods with artists including Peter Furler, Kari Jobe and Big Daddy Weave. The Kid Zone includes a bouncy houses, slides and activities, plus a children’s entertainment stage.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to experience the “Splat Experience” watching the work of a Christian artist appear before their eyes. The Splat Experience will take place before the Matthew West performance Friday and again before the Toby Mac concert Saturday.

Parking is free and attendees are invited to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages. Concessions will also be available on-site.

Learning curve

Richard Pletcher, owner of Amish Acres, described last year’s event as a learning experience.

The weather was a big challenge during the event, according to Pletcher, with pretty severe conditions, tornado warnings, very hot temperatures and humidity. Some minor adjustments had to be made to the stage and to the schedule.

However, Pletcher said, “What we learned is this site is perfect for an event like this.”

Amish Acres is host to a major art festival annually and Pletcher said that experience came in handy when planning Friend Fest with WFRN organizers. But he said his staff learned there were definitely differences between the two events that will be improved for this year’s event.

One area was food service — during the art festival people are visiting concessions throughout, but during the concerts everyone was coming at one time during breaks. Pletcher said the traffic flow for Friend Fest is different, too. He also said more campground sites will be added this year.

Pletcher and organizers from WFRN have been putting heads together to improve over their first year’s event. Deb Millin of WFRN said better organizing of volunteers is a change that will be made.

“We started early with volunteer applications online and feel we have a better system of fitting volunteer’s skills and talents in the right places,” Millin said.  Millin said the handicapped-accessible area was also changed to be closer to the food and restrooms.

Pletcher said Amish Acres’ staff received “nothing but extreme compliments from the artists and this year’s line-up is just as solid, if not better.”

He also said he wouldn’t be surprised if attendance really grew this year, in part because of the end of a Christian music festival in Wilmore, KY called ICTHUS Festival. The ICTHUS Festival began in 1970 and has been the largest, longes-running outdoor Christian music festival. In December 2012 the announcement came that it was ending.

A recent announcement on the ICTHUS website indicated the festival will resume in 2014 and will be a fall rather than a summer festival.

Millin said what she is most looking forward to this year is for more people to be introduced to the Gospel.

“That’s our main goal at WFRN,” said. “And of course, I want to see Toby Mac rock out on stage—all the lights, camera and action ...”

Festival attendees have the choice to camp out during the whole festival, or to come and go as they please.

For complete event details, visit WFRNfriendfest.com.  Tickets and information available online at the website or by calling 800-426-2898 until Monday. After that date, general admission tickets will be available at the gate. General admission attendees should plan to providetheir own chairs or blankets.

Schedule

On Friday gates open at 2 p.m. and music begins at 3 p.m. Main stage line-up on Friday includes:

• Carrolton (formerly known as Mosteller) — 3-3:30 p.m.

• Rhett Walker Band — 3:50-4:40 p.m.

• For King and Country — 5-6:00 p.m.

• Big Daddy Weave — 6:25.-7:25 p.m.

• Building 429 — 7:50-9:05 p.m.

• Splat Experience

• Matthew West — 9:30-11 p.m.

On Saturday, gates open at 10 a.m. and music begins at 11:30  a.m. Main Stage line-up includes:

• OBB — 11:30 a.m.-noon

• Hyland — 12:20-1 p.m.

• Moriah Peters — 1:20-2 p.m.

• Finding Favour — 2:20-3 p.m.

• Chris August — 3:20-4  p.m.

• Kari Jobe — 4:30-5 p.m.

• (Speaker) Phil Joel  (5 -5:30 p.m.

•  Kari Jobe — 5:30-6 p.m.

•  Jamie Grace — 6:25-7:20 p.m.

• Peter Furler Band including Phil Joel — 7:50-9:05 p.m.

• Splat Experience

• Toby Mac — 9:30-11 p.m.