HJ/EDApril 24, 2006

Higher Ground hopes to double in size this year

By Ryan Gueningsman
Correspondent

Families enjoyed last year’s inaugural Higher Ground Christian Music Festival, and organizers are looking to promote the same family atmosphere at this year’s event, adding even more entertainers.

If every person who attended the festival in Winsted last year comes again this year – and brings one person with them – the festival will be a success, according to festival chairman Terry Fasching.

While attendance at last year’s inaugural festival wasn’t quite what organizers had hoped for, Fasching is remaining optimistic about this year’s festival – and is looking forward to tweaking the weekend to make it an even better experience for those who attend Friday and Saturday, Aug. 18 and 19.

“We have added a second stage this year, and we are going to have some local bands, more youth oriented bands, and probably a speaker Saturday night,” Fasching said. “It’ll be a good mix for everybody, so that’s one of our big things for this year – probably the biggest thing.”

He felt people enjoyed the festival last year, but noted there was a considerable amount of downtime between acts.

Fasching said the two-stage schedule will run similar to how Winstock runs its schedule, alternating back and forth between the two stages. The second stage is being paid for through a sponsorship opportunity with Refuge Radio, Pizza Ranch’s corporate office, and Rise Ministries of Iowa.

Other features from last year, including the sports pavilion and inflatable village for children, will be back this year. Fasching said more vendors are likely to be added, as well. One suggestion received after last year’s festival was to have a camping area for tents separate from other recreational vehicle camping. Fasching said, this year, there will be a separate tent-only camping area.

“We’re trying to fine tune it a little bit from last year – see what worked and what didn’t work,” Fasching said. “Some things that work for Winstock don’t necessarily work for us, just because it’s a different crowd. But, overall, I think it’ll be fairly similar to last year.”

Fasching added that last year, the committee received many compliments about how the event was more “family-oriented,” and said he hopes that is something that the festival tries to gear toward.

“We really want to stay focused on keeping it a family event,” he said. “That’s why we wanted to keep the ‘10-and-unders’ free. Last year, we had about 400 to 500 of those, so obviously, it’s getting the families out there, and that’s what we want to focus on, and try to keep the same.”

Who’s going to perform

Headliners for Higher Ground 2006 are powerhouse bands MercyMe and Jars of Clay.

Jars of Clay, Friday evening’s headliner, is a pop/rock/Christian band that has been on the music scene for many years. Their music portrays an ancient message that “never goes out of style.”

Performing Friday will be Bebo Norman, Denver and the Mile High Orchestra, Joy Williams, and Krystal Meyers.

“Denver and the Mile High Orchestra is pretty well-known in the Twin Cities market, and we hope that’ll bring in some people for that day,” Fasching said.

Saturday evening’s headliner will be MercyMe, which will release a new CD this week called “Coming Up To Surface,” which contains songs that go deeper than the band has ventured before.

Hitting the stage Saturday night along with MercyMe will be Mark Schultz, Natalie Grant, Monk and Neagle, and Olivia the Band.

“The guy that did our purchasing of the bands did a really good job of getting a real mix. MercyMe is more adult contemporary, while Jars of Clay is a little more youth-oriented and gets that college crowd.”

Northwestern Book Stores has signed on to be Higher Ground’s main stage presenting sponsor again this year, Fasching added.

For tickets or more info.

Ticket prices for the weekend are $45 until June 1, $52 after June 1, and $60 at the gate. One-day passes are also available this year at a cost of $30 in advance or $35 at the gate.

Fasching said ticket sales are comparable to this time of the year last year, and said tickets went on sale about a month earlier this year than last year.

“I think we’ll see a big spike in sales in May and June just before the earlybird deadline June 1,” he said.

Tickets are available via phone at 866-821-5151, in person at any Northwestern Book Store, or online at www.hgmusicfest.com.


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