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Saturday in the park with Valor Ministries Festival at Fairgrounds

July 16, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • The Smithsburg Valley Baptist Church praise team performed Saturday afternoon at Hagerstown's Fairgrounds Park during the open-air Christian music festival. Left to right are members Lee Price on bass, Curtis Miller vocals, Tom Vanderford acoustic guitar, Jered Youngbar lead guitar, and Eric Deal on drums.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

Christian music mingled with the normal weekend-afternoon sounds of cracking bats and squealing children at Fairgrounds Park Saturday as Valor Ministries hosted its first Festival at Fairgrounds open-air music festival.

The free-admission event ran from 1 to 8 p.m. at the south end of the park, nearest to Cannon Avenue, and featured Christian bands and speakers along with vendors, concession stands, and children's games and activities.

Organizer Lori Wriston said Valor Ministries put on the event because its members "wanted to bless the community and just bring a message of hope and healing, and let people know about Jesus Christ."

Valor Ministries is a nonprofit Christian charity that offers educational, resource and support services that empower people to transform their lives, according to an organization brochure.

Many concert-goers brought blankets or folding chairs and umbrellas and spread out in the field around the stage, while others sat at a nearby picnic pavilion or browsed the rows of canopied vendors.

Some didn't know about the concert, but joined in the festivities when they spotted the crowd at the park.

"We just happened to come here by chance, and we saw they were having a music festival," said Paul Britten of Hagerstown, who brought his 7-year-old daughter.

"It's been a relaxing, fun afternoon," Sherry Cunningham of Hagerstown said as the band Souled Out set up on stage.

"The worship has been awesome," she added.

One of the speakers at the event was Ken Harris, pastor at New Life Christian Ministries, who spoke of his belief that some Christian outreach efforts are falling short of what they ought to accomplish.

"I think sometimes, we're getting so caught up in how to bring (people) in that we're forgetting what we're supposed to be bringing them into when we get them here," Harris said.

He ensured Saturday's event would not suffer the same shortcoming by delivering a talk about his own journey to God and five points he felt were important to a true understanding of the gospel.

Wriston said she was happy with the turnout and hoped to make the festival an annual event.

"We've been praying for about a month now that God would bring who He wants to these grounds, and so even if there was just one person here, we'd still be happy to be here," she said.

Wriston estimated there were at least 200 people at the festival in its first hour, and said she was hoping to see about 500 by the end of the night.

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