Jfest marks 20th an­niver­sary with 10 Chris­tian mu­sic acts tak­ing the stage at Camp Jor­dan Arena. SATUR­DAY


Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - FRONT PAGE - STAFF WRITER BY SU­SAN PIERCE

Ted Gocke was at the first Jfest when it launched 20 years ago at Camp Jor­dan Arena. Sev­eral hun­dred folks turned out to see what the new Chris­tian mu­sic fes­ti­val that ra­dio sta­tion J103 was launch­ing was all about.

Over two decades, Jfest has grown to be­come the largest Chris­tian mu­sic fes­ti­val and longest-run­ning in this re­gion, says Gocke, now J103’s morn­ing show host, mu­sic di­rec­tor and pro­mo­tions di­rec­tor. Last year’s event drew nearly 8,000 vis­i­tors; its big­gest year saw close to 10,000 pass through the gates.

“The mu­sic has be­come more di­verse. Chris­tian mu­sic has evolved and now there are all the dif- fer­ent Chris­tian gen­res: rap, hip- hop, rock, con­tem­po­rary Chris­tian,” says Gocke. “But one thing hasn’t changed about Jfest: the mis­sion to evan­ge­lize and to give peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to sit down with their fam­i­lies and spend time to­gether lis­ten­ing to a va­ri­ety of mu­sic.”

Jfest marks i ts 20th an­niver­sary on Satur­day, May 19. Gates open at 9:30 a. m., when the first of 10 Chris­tian mu­sic acts takes the stage.

As has be­come tra­di­tion, Jfest will end the day with fire­works, but a dou­ble- dose ex­trav­a­ganza is planned this year.

“Last year was the first time in 19 years where we had a bad storm come in,” says Gocke. “It sat on us be­fore the head­liner and fire­works. We had to end the show and we lost both of those. So the fire­works this year will be twice as long.”

This year’s head­lin­ers are Britt Ni­cole, whose cur­rent sin­gle is “Be the Change,” and Tenth Av­enue North, three- time Dove Award win­ner.

Gocke says or­ga­niz­ers have tried to book Tenth Av­enue North for years, but schedul­ing never worked out. The band’s cur­rent sin­gle is “Con­trol,” which Gocke says has been the No. 1 song for sev­eral weeks in Chris­tian mu­sic.

Tori Par­ris of Gads­den, Ala., will open Jfest. Per­form­ing the re­main­der of the day will be The Young Es­cape, Un­spo­ken, The Color, Mal­lory Hope, Find­ing Favour and Call­ing Glory. Britt Ni­cole will come on about 6: 15 p. m. and Tenth Av­enue North about 7:45.

New this year is the ad­di­tion of an af­ter-party, says Gocke. Chris­tian hiphop artist Aaron Cole will en­ter­tain.

“Aaron is one of TobyMac’s pro­teges and is on TobyMac’s record la­bel. Aaron will be on­stage im­me­di­ately af­ter the fire­works,” he says.

Also new this year: Ven­dors will ac­cept cash.

“Nor­mally, peo­ple have ex­changed cur­rency for J Bucks. This year, ven­dors will take cash. As a re­sult of that, we’ve got­ten more di­verse ven­dors,” says Gocke.

The early morn­ing Run For God Jfest 5K is still part of the event, how­ever this year the fes­ti­val is part­ner­ing with Vol­un­teers in Medicine for the run. VIM will be the race pre­sen­ter and ben­e­fi­ciary.

Race regis­tra­tion starts at 7:30 a.m. The en­try fee is $ 40, which in­cludes a Jfest ticket.

For more in­for­ma­tion: jfest.com.


Tenth Av­enue North has played River­bend, but Satur­day’s show at Jfest marks its first ap­pear­ance at that fes­ti­val.

Britt Ni­cole’s new sin­gle is the ti­tle track from al­bum “Be the Change.”

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