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'A very positive, fun, amazing weekend': Hope Fest set for July 20-22 in Detroit Lakes

Nashville-based Christian singing group, Anthem Lights, will be one of the headliners at this year's Hope Fest. The group will perform on Saturday, July 21 at 9 p.m. Promotional photo1 / 3
We Are Vessel will perform twice at Hope Fest: first on Friday at 7 p.m., and then again on Saturday at 5. Promotional photo2 / 3
Citizen Way will headline on Friday, July 20, with a performance starting at 9 p.m. Promotional photo3 / 3

Hope Fest is returning for another round of family-friendly, faith-based entertainment in Detroit Lakes.

In its eighth year, the three-day music festival runs Friday through Sunday, July 20-22. The dates were pushed back into July this year, after last year's June event suffered from bitter cold and rain.

"Everybody was out there with blankets and was buying hot chocolate," recalls Aleisa Jopp, a leading organizer of Hope Fest. "So they changed it to July in hopes that it would be warmer."

Hope Fest was originated by Mel and Shirley Manning, the same pair who founded The Refuge Christian Outreach Center of Detroit Lakes. The festival's mix of Christian music, fair-style food, family activities and kids' games is designed to bring people together in an environment of hope and good times.

"It's a very positive, fun, amazing weekend," Jopp says. "The message of Hope Fest is that, with everything going on in the world right now...we've got this beautiful world and this beautiful God, and things are going to get better. We want to bring people together and share that — give 'em some hope."

At its height, Hope Fest pulled in about 14,000 people. Jopp says the event was scaled back a few years ago in order to remain affordable and appealing for families, yet it continues to draw in a crowd of thousands.

This year, as always, the festival is sure to please Christian music fans. The lineup is a 50-50 mix of favorite local and national acts. Headliners Anthem Lights, Citizen Way and We Are Vessel will play their popular Christian radio hits, sharing the stage with local acts like the dynamic Firestarters, out of Ottertail, or the soulful Doug Newman, of Detroit Lakes.

In all, there are 10 acts booked to play more than a dozen shows over the three-day weekend. In addition to those already mentioned, Christian hip hop artists Kaboose and Nehemiah will perform, as will singer Abbigail Potts, the Lakes Area Vineyard, and Alesha Flynn with PURE.

Jopp says she visited area schools and followed people's Facebook pages to come up with ideas for this year's lineup. She talked to kids to find out what they wanted to hear, in terms of Christian music, and also sought suggestions through social media.

"Anthem Lights is a big one — people are looking forward to them," she says of the groups that sparked the most interest. "But actually there's a little more hype about our local people."

In addition to the music, Hope Fest will feature arts and crafts vendors, bouncy houses, face painting and "crazy hair," hayrides, trolley rides, a baby goat petting zoo and other family activities.

When it comes to food, "all the fair favorites" will be served, according to Jopp, including hamburgers, french fries, fry bread tacos (only available in the evenings), cheese curds, taco in a bag, corn dogs, salads and more. Iced coffees, fresh smoothies and frozen treats will also be sold.

Advance Hope Fest tickets are $49 for a three-day pass, and are buy one, get one free for adults (kids under 12 get in for free). Otherwise, day passes may be purchased at the gate for $29 each. There is also a $5 parking fee.

As a special deal for those who support The Refuge's Helping Hand Thrift Store, a three-day pass will be given away free to anyone who buys at least $15 worth of items at the store (good through Thursday, July 19 at 5 p.m.)

"We want to see people who can't normally afford to go to things like this, come and experience this," Jopp says.

Hope Fest is a fundraiser for The Refuge, but it's also a way for The Refuge to reach out to those in need in the community. Anyone who wants to attend the festival and can't afford it is encouraged to call The Refuge for tickets.

For everyone else, advance tickets may be purchased online at, at The Refuge, at Helping Hands Thrift Store or at the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The concert site is outdoors, at 26697 North Tower Road in Detroit Lakes. Primitive camping is available. The gate will open at 9 a.m. on Friday morning for campers and vendors, and will remain open through Sunday afternoon. Music will kick off Friday at 5 p.m. People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, and to dress for the weather.

"The land where it's held, it's just beautiful out there," says Jopp. "The grounds are beautiful. It's perfect for a festival."

To volunteer, make a last-minute vendor request, inquire about tickets, or get any other information, visit or call Jopp at 218-847-1982.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune as a reporter and magazine editor in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in Detroit Lakes with her husband, Dan, their 3-year-old son and baby daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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