Goshen News, Goshen, IN

June 22, 2013

Friend Fest festival underway at Amish Acres

By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS

NAPPANEE — Matt Yoder of Goshen looked forward to finally using one of the gifts he received at Christmas.

His gift?

Tickets for the second annual WFRN Friend Fest at Amish Acres in Nappanee.

“I’m excited for the good music,” Yoder, 18, said, and being able to listen to two of his favorite Christian recording artists — For King and Country and Chris August.

Yoder attended Friday’s session and planned to go back to Amish Acres for part of the event today, which was set to conclude with a concert by TobyMac.

More than a 1,000 concert-goers, from young to old, filled the main stage seating area Friday afternoon, bringing their own lawn chairs, folding chairs and blankets to sit on during the concerts. They carried and pulled coolers filled with food and drinks. Some people pulled wagons filled with their personal items for the event.

Debra and Alton Johns of Peru sat on a blanket on the ground with their backs leaning against a cooler.

“This is our first time (at Friend Fest),” Alton said. “We heard about it last year but weren’t able to go. We had the opportunity this year and took advantage of it.”

The couple ordered their tickets in January to make sure they had them.

“It’s like a little taste of heaven here, praising God and being around other Christians,” Debra said, smiling. “The wind is a real blessing and it’s a beautiful day. We’re here for the whole weekend. We have a room at a bed and breakfast and making a weekend of it.”

Her husband nodded in agreement.

“I’m really looking forward to this. This is Woodstock for Jesus,” Alton said. “We minister every Friday night on a street in Peru, so we are being ministered here, too. He’s an awesome, awesome God.”

Eleven-year-old Kaylee Pries sat on the ground, holding an umbrella for shade. She said it was the second time she attended the event. “It’s a lot of fun,” Kaylee said. “I like the music and the jumpy house.”

Her mother, Cynthia Pries of Peru, attended last year as well.

“It’s wonderful and we had a good time last year,” Pries said. “We are just more prepared this year. It rained last year and we had no rain gear and we had no blankets.”

Standing near the mainstage, Emily Molden of Bremen sang along with the Rhett Walker Band, one of the 22 artists performing during the event.

“This is my first time here, but I’ve been to the Pulse Festival (held in South Bend in August). It’s the same atmosphere,” Molden said. “This is all the music I listen to and I know all the songs. It’s like a weird feeling seeing the bands (here). It’s a whole new experience to see them in person and they are so much better in person. It’s definitely worthwhile coming.”