Lifefest 07/07/2005 - Sunnyview Fairgrounds - Oshkosh, WI
Being this is a review of the Lifest festival than the actual talent playing there, I'll stay away from reviewing the acts that performed during the four days. Not to take away from headliners such as Tobymac or up and coming bands like Disciple though, as they put on great concerts and are all top notch entertainers.
First off, this festival is huge. The four day event pulled in 70,000 people from 47 different states and Canada! That's a lot of people. And if Lifest continues to grow like they have, they should really consider holding it at a different location. The current grounds in Oshkosh are adequate, but barely with that many people coming through the gate. This isn't Summerfest, but if growth trends continue they'll need to grow with it.
Lifest is a jack of all trades - master of none music festival. There are a total of seven different stages, which were host to over 150 acts. The only common theme running throughout the diverse line-up is their Christian message. From praise and worship, to contemporary, to rock and rap. It was many different voices with many different ways of expressing their one goal: sharing their faith in Jesus Christ. The festival seems to take pride in the fact that they have something for everyone, and they come pretty close to accomplishing that.
One area they are sorely lacking in would be entertainment for the 30+ attendees. Sure, there's the contemporary music such as Steven Curtis Chapman, but there's a pretty big void from CCM to the current sounding bands that kids today listen to. Some classic rock and country bands next year will open this festival up to a more mature audience, who will naturally bring their family with. The kid zone for the children was nice, but small. This is another area where they need to grow with their attendance. But for teenagers, Lifest pulled out all the stops. Picture church camp where your family can attend and music being the common theme.
Life promotions also relies heavily on the 1,300 volunteers that help them run the festival. A novel idea, and one that works well for them. Again, as this festival continues to grow, they will need to have more paid personnel on grounds (planning for growth is a reoccurring theme). There seemed to be some miscommunication behind the scenes, and I'm sure that's because the actual employees of Life promotions were pulled thin working with the volunteers. This shouldn't be too hard to correct.
The best thing about the festival was the people. From the Lifest staff, to the volunteers, to the attendees. You could feel it in the air, and see it on their faces. Here's hoping that Lifest continues it's trend, making a difference in people's lives while entertaining them.