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Family Jam 'party in park' is next Sunday

Since 2004, Detroit Lakes has played host every summer to a unique "party in the park" known as Family Jam.

Billed as a "concert and fun in the light of the Son," this Christian-themed, family-oriented summer event has been growing steadily in popularity.

So much so, in fact, that parking for the Family Jam has been expanded from the lot next to the City Park (where the event is located) to include the lot at Detroit Lakes High School, which is just a block away.

"We're expecting even more people this year," explained Kathy Nelson, Family Jam committee member and marketing chair.

From 11:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 8, park visitors will be treated to a wide range of live entertainment, as well as a presentation from inspirational speaker Joel Sonnenberg.

"He's (Sonnenberg) a burn victim," Nelson said.

Or perhaps, a better term might be, "burn survivor."

"When he was two years old, (Sonnenberg) was in a terrible automobile accident, and survived beyond all odds," Nelson explained. "He's about 30 years old today, and he believes his accident was really a gift from God because of the message of hope he gives to people. He's really an inspiration."

But at the same time, Nelson explained, "He makes people feel very comfortable with his situation -- he really has a ton of personality."

Sonnenberg is scheduled to speak at 6 p.m.

Also scheduled to take center stage is the San Diego-based professional skate team, Boarders for Christ.

"Boarders for Christ actually called us to see if they could perform at Family Jam," Nelson said, adding that the professional skate team has been touring the East Coast, and approached Family Jam organizers about appearing there on their way home to California.

"That was really neat," Nelson said.

The skate team will be bringing their extreme sports show, mixed with an inspirational gospel message, to the stage at 3:30 p.m.

Prior to their performance, the Twin Cities-based Christian rap group Agape will perform at 2:30 p.m. Led by David Scharer, this group uses rhythmic American poetry, also known as rap, to reach out to audiences young and old.

Also expected to perform are several familiar favorites from past Family Jams, such as Kathie Brekke & the Apostle Blues Band (11:30 a.m.), Holy Mackerel (12:30 p.m.) and the Manning Family (1:30 p.m.).

"They're so good, and they just really enjoy being a part of it (Family Jam)," Nelson said. "It's really neat to have them back."

Also scheduled to perform at 4:30 p.m. is nationally recognized singer-song writer Scott Krippayne, who is best known for his hit single, 'I'm Not Cool." Another popular recording artist, Bebo Norman, will be the final performer of the evening, taking the stage at 7:30 p.m.

"We feel the mix of performers we have really gives something for everyone that might come, from all different age groups," Nelson said, summarizing this year's lineup.

The Family Jam has traditionally been held in August, but was moved up to July this year due to the fact that the DL Pavilion is booked through most of the summer.

"The concerts are free and will be held outdoors in the city park," said Nelson. However, "if we get rain, we will move indoors to the Pavilion."

In addition to the stage performers and speakers, Games to Go will be proving activities for children big and small in the city park. Wristbands are $5 for the whole day, Nelson noted. Food is also a big part of Family Jam. Eight area churches are providing food booths at this year's Family Jam gathering, with offerings including everything from pizza to pork chops on a stick, sub sandwiches to slushies, pie and ice cream, and yes, even pickles on a stick.

"All concerts and performances are free -- food and games are extra," Nelson noted.

Without the support of the community, however, staging so many performances free of charge would most likely not be possible, she added. "The community has been so responsive and helpful in putting this event on. If it weren't for them, the individuals and businesses who have contributed to make this possible, it wouldn't happen. That's huge."

For more information or a schedule of events, see the official Family Jam Web site at, or call Kathy Nelson at 218-841-5880.

The Lakes Area Ministerial Association sponsors the event.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454