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Hope Fest to bring family fun to DL

Hope Fest is set for Thursday, Aug. 21 and runs through Saturday, Aug. 23. Christian rock bands are a big hit at the annual festival, which this year will feature performers Lightswitch, Neverclaim and Josh Wilson. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

Hope Fest in Detroit Lakes may technically be a fundraiser for the area’s men’s homeless shelter, the Refuge, but its purpose goes far beyond that.

Its mission is right in the name.

“It’s about hope,” said Mel Manning, president of the Refuge and organizer of Hope Fest. “It’s so much different from the world’s view of entertainment. We’re ministering hope and healing and health and love, instead of all the other things going on in the world today.”

Manning says the event, which is scheduled for Aug. 21-23 on the outskirts of Detroit Lakes, is an event that brings together families and area churches to work for a common goal.

“I feel in my heart like never before, this is a time that Christian people need to stand up and be heard and stand together in unity, and that’s what Hope Fest is about,” said Manning.

Volunteers are now busy pulling everything together for the event that takes place in a big, open field near the intersection of Richwood and Tower roads.

Some of those volunteers are building a stage for the musical acts making their way to Detroit Lakes.

On Thursday, the festival goes from 6-10 p.m. and features the four-man Christian rock band, Lightswitch.

Friday’s fest also goes from 6-10 p.m., and Christian contemporary rock band Neverclaim hits the stage.

Saturday’s celebration kicks off at high noon and goes all day, through 10 p.m.

Josh Wilson will be the featured headliner that night.

“He’s really popular…has a lot of hits out right now,” said Manning of the Christian musician. “He has a song out called ‘Push Out the Dark,’ and that’s just what we need right now — to get some light into this dark world.”

Although Hope Fest is only in its fourth year, Manning says he expects, or at least “hopes” it will be bigger than ever. In fact, event organizers were able to take some funds from last year’s festival profits to enhance the event going into the future.

That includes the building of an actual stage that will allow performers to be up and outdoors instead of inside the tents.

“I think as people come out and see what we’re about, it’ll continue to grow,” said Manning, adding that last year there were anywhere from 600 to 800 people at the event on the busiest day, Saturday.

Although event coordinators are obviously hoping for good weather, Manning says they are literally covered, either way.

“We have a big tent that we can set up that seats 600, so the concerts will go on rain or shine,” he said.

Reverend Elisha Sohan from New Jersey will be on hand as a speaker at the festival.

Adding to the family-friendly party will be several arts and crafts booths, horse-drawn hay rides for the kids, little train rides and much more.

Tickets for Hope Fest are $8 a day or $20 for all three days if purchased in advance (at the Refuge in Detroit Lakes) or at the gate for $10 for day and $25 for all three days.

Children 12 years old and under are admitted free of charge.

Although Manning says he’s hoping to raise some money for the Refuge, the event is really more about coming together as families, as churches and as Christians.

“Our sign (at the Refuge) says, ‘We feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty and provide ministry to the broken hearted,’ and  that’s what this is — good clean music that has a good message and a good, safe place for people to come together,” said Manning.

Hope Fest coordinators are still looking for volunteers to help get things set up for the festival; Manning estimates it will take roughly 100 volunteers to do it all.

They are also still looking for arts and crafts vendors and home based business vendors interested in setting up a spot at Hope Fest.

The number to call is 218-847-1982.