Lecrae / photo

If you go

› What: JFest

› Where: Tennessee Riverpark, 4301 Amnicola Highway

› When: Noon-11 p.m. Saturday, May 18

› Admission: $25 ages 12 and up, $10 ages 5-11

› For more information:


Noon. The Young Escape

1:15 p.m. Riley Clemmons

2:30 p.m. Ryan Stevenson

3:45 p.m. Building 429

5:15 p.m. Tauren Wells

6:45 p.m. Matthew West

8:30 p.m. Lecrae

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Matthew West / photo

There's a fresh, new excitement about JFest this weekend.

The Christian music festival returns for its 21st year Saturday, May 18, in a new location, with its biggest lineup to date and its most spectacular fireworks finale done by Pyro Shows.

After 20 years at Camp Jordan, JFest was drawing crowds of anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 fans. The festival simply outgrew the East Ridge recreation park. After considering a half-dozen venues, organizers agreed the Tennessee Riverpark offered the space needed to continue its growth.

"Inside the festival site we will have more room. There will be a new Hangout Zone for teens. We have a Kids World and more food vendors this year," says Ted Gocke of sponsoring J103 Radio.

Among exhibitors at the festival will be Chattanooga Football Club, bringing its portable soccer field, and Sleep in Heavenly Peace ministry, which builds beds for children who don't have them. The nonprofit will have a build site for festivalgoers to wield some hammers and help build beds.

"Not only do we have a new space, we doubled our artist budget," Gocke says.

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Tauren Wells / photo

That's obvious in the stellar lineup: headliner Lecrae, Matthew West, Tauren Wells (who toured with Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey last year), Building 429 (who has played more JFests than any other act), Ryan Stevenson, Riley Clemmons and The Young Escape.

Lecrae Devaughn Moore is a Christian hip-hop recording artist, songwriter, producer and actor. Lecrae's third album, "Rebel," released in 2008, became the first Christian hip-hop album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Gospel chart. After an appearance on the 2011 BET Hip-Hop Awards, his music started attracting mainstream attention.

His 2012 album, "Gravity," won the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Gospel Album, marking the first time a hip-hop artist received that award. His latest album, 2018's "Let the Trap Say Amen," is a collaborative project with Zaytoven.

Lecrae received nominations for Artist of the Year four consecutive years at the Gospel Music Awards, winning on the fourth nomination at the 46th GMA. He also won the 2015 BET Award for Best Gospel Artist, the first rap artist to do so.

Ryan Stevenson's single "With Lifted Hands" is currently in the Top 20 on Billboard's Hot Christian Singles chart, where Tauren Wells is No. 24 with "God's Not Done With You."

Wells dominated the 2018 Dove Awards with four wins: New Artist of the Year, Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year, pop/contemporary album for "Hills and Valleys" and best rap hip-hop song for "War Cry."

Gocke says plenty of free parking will be available on the campus of Chattanooga State Community College.

"It's not that far of a walk to the Riverpark. But the folks at Cowboy Church of LaFayette have generously offered to bring a variety of trucks to shuttle folks," says Gocke.

Buy tickets online at Kids World is included within the ticket price for children 5-11.

Bring your proof of purchase — a printout or ticket receipt on your cellphone — to the festival. It will be scanned at the gate and exchanged for a wristband for festival admission. Also bring a chair or blanket for seating.

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.


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