JFest, the largest Christian music festival in the Tennessee Valley, returns to Camp Jordan on Saturday.
This year's music lineup of more than 15 artists will be headlined by Francesca Battistelli, the Dove Awards' reigning Artist of the Year and two-time Female Vocalist of the Year. She will be joined by other big marquee acts, including Salvador and Big Daddy Weave, both of whom were past JFest headliners.
Booking Battistelli was a major coup for JFest, which is expected to draw 6,000 to 7,000, said festival director Ted Gocke.
"She's only been a mainstream, Christian artist for two years, and her music really connects with people," he said.
Gocke said JFest was founded in 1998 as a means of ministering to families and generating revenue for the station during the summer slump. The first event was headlined by three-time Grammy Award winner Michael W. Smith.
• What: JFest 2011.
• When: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: Camp Jordan, Fred Pruett Parkway, East Ridge.
• Admission: $10 in advance, $15 day of.
• Additional charges: $5 charge for use of children's inflatables and RVs/primitive camping.
• Phone: 892-1200.
• Website: www.jfest.com.
8 a.m. Battle for Christ finals
9:30 a.m. Tom Coverly
9:30 a.m. Jeff Bodley (2010 Battle for Christ champion)
10 a.m. Run for God Awards
10 a.m. The Museum
10:50 a.m. Team Impact
11 a.m. Among the Thirsty
12:10 p.m. Tom Coverly
12:20 p.m. Addison Road
1:20 p.m. Team Impact
1:40 p.m. Bebo Norman
2:50 p.m. Love Offering
3 p.m. Salvador
4:10 p.m. Tom Coverly
4:20 p.m. Francesca Battistelli
5:20 p.m. Team Impact
6:40 p.m. Big Daddy Weave
8 p.m. Newworldson
JFest has been held at Camp Jordan annually, except in 2009, when it relocated to Abba's House. It was at that event that the festival doubled its stages to two, a trend that will continue this year, Gocke said.
"A lot of times at music festivals, there's only one stage, and the band that just got done playing has to strike, and then you have to bring on everything for the next band," Gocke said. "With two stages, it allows us to have more artists and less down time, so you have more music."
New additions this year include a partnership with Run for God, a 12-week ministerial fitness program culminating in a 5K race/graduation. A Run for God race at 8 a.m. will mark the start of the festival. As of last week, 200 participants had signed up, including Big Daddy Weave singer/songwriter Mike Weaver, Gocke said.
After the start of the race, the festival will host the semifinals of Battle for Christ, a battle of the bands for contemporary Christian artists. The competition will feature four finalists from other regional events, and the winner will be offered a guaranteed slot at JFest next year as well as a slot at the Ichthus Music Festival in Willmore, Ky., June 15-18.
Last year's inaugural Battle for Christ winner, Jeff Bodley, will perform before this year's winner is announced, Gocke said.
In addition to the musical entertainment, the festival will include performances by Christian illusionist Tom Coverly and Team Impact, a group of Texas-based Christian athletes who perform feats of strength as a part of their ministerial outreach.
"Team Impact has learned that if you can get a person's attention, they will listen to what you have to say," reads a statement on the team's website. "And Team Impact has found a way to get people's attention."
"The appeal is nearly irresistible, especially for those who would normally never attend church. While the method may be different, the message remains the same - salvation through grace through faith in Jesus Christ."
This year's Kids World children's attractions have also been blown out and will include, for an extra charge, a trip on a 300-foot inflatable slide, the largest in the area, Gocke said.
Contact Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205.