2nd Annual River Rock Music Festival
By Elizabeth Filipe
This is what I want in Heaven…for words to become notes and for conversations to be symphonies. – Tina Turner
Bethel, ME – The countryside explodes with woodsy life during the early summer months. Towering pines emerge from the frigid Maine winter with tiny needles touched by a fresh coat of green. Sugar maples sway in pleasant mountain breezes, their delicate new leaves gaining strength with each day.
Securely nestled between some of Maine’s tallest mountains to the north and the more than one thousand miles of the White Mountain National Forest to the west, the town of Bethel is home to the Sunday River Resort. This world-class vacation destination welcomes visitors into a pristine and pastoral environment, ideal for a wide array of enjoyable outdoor activities. The town’s motto: “Maine’s Most Beautiful Mountain Village,” is not an empty boast. Bethel’s quaint charm and majestic natural beauty beckons to people eager for an adventure. Now, for the second year in a row, the Sunday River Resort will partner with Lighthouse Events (a Christian event organization) to offer a two day musical extravaganza featuring Christian music’s most talented artists.
In the heart of the Mountain and Lakes region lies the Sunday River Resort, just six miles away from Bethel. It is here that the annual River Rock Music Festival, a faith-focused extravaganza that intertwines Christian music and speakers, will take place for the second time on Friday and Saturday, the 1st and 2nd of July.
Last year, Jeff and Gail Wall, founders of The Lighthouse Events, launched the festival. Gail Wall writes, “Maine has some of the most beautiful spots around and we wanted to pair it with great Christian music to make for an amazing and memorable time.”
The Sunday River Resort, a gorgeous venue offering a mixture of comfortable lodging and enjoyable outdoor activities, provides a consummate backdrop for the festival’s amazing musical line-up to awaken, refresh, and encourage the souls of parents, children, and singles. After entering the resort, visitors will separate to find their rooms in one of the three lodging options at the Sunday River Resort: the Grand Summit, Snow Cap Inn, or the Jordan Grand. Set just inside the entrance of the resort, the Grand Summit Hotel offers families a modern hotel experience within a breathtaking mountain setting. The entire experience will astound visitors who will be happily surprised to find that a hotel can include fresh Maine air, a close-up view of a mountain range, adventurous outdoor activities and the refreshment Christian music.
The cottage-styled Snow Cap Inn, situated in the heart of the mountain resort, provides access to the entire resort, maintains comfortable family rooms. In addition, the Snow Cap Inn is just a short walk away from lift rides and zip lines which will remind both adults and children that the exhilaration of flight can be achieved without even boarding a plane. At the Jordan Grand Hotel, visitors can wake to peer at a spectacular view of the mountain. For mother’s seeking a little rest and relaxation, the Jordan Spa will not disappoint. For anyone hoping to get in a little workout before heading over to hear Tenth Avenue North, the hotel offers a state-of-the-art health club along with a steam room and sauna. “Families love that they can stay right on site,” says Gail Wall. “The lodging at Sunday River Resort allows families to spend quality time, with fun activities and comfortable rooms.” For
more adventurous groups there’s
plenty of camping in the area
including KOA campgrounds and
State and National Parks.
The River Rock Music Festival team works hard to welcome guests into safe, fun, and beautiful lodging. Guests need to know that they are valued, worthy of a comfortable bed and beautiful rooms, for God’s love, like the soaring strains of a chorus, is uplifting and extravagant. The hope is that this attention to detail will free guest’s minds and hearts of unnecessary practical worries, enabling them to begin to listen to the festival’s soul: a celebration of faith featuring Christian music’s top artists.
“We choose most of the artists based on two criteria,” says Jeff. “Stylistically, do we personally like them? Second, we like to partner with people who have an authentic faith and sing about what they believe.” Jeff and Gail Wall aggregate high quality artists and powerful speakers whose renown comes not only from their skill as performers and speakers, but an engaging and powerful presentation of the Gospel that comes from their own deeply held faith.
Just before 10 o’clock on Friday morning, July 1st, the event opens to the public. Event-goers can expect time to visit some outdoor activities before the first artist takes the stage. The entire family can spend the morning mountain biking, rock climbing, or riding the Chondola up Sunday River’s North Peak to glimpse a panoramic view of the Sunday River Valley and Mahoosuc Mountain Range.
At 1 o’clock on Friday, the band Love and The Outcome will kick off the festivities. After that, the festival gains energy and does not stop.
On Friday, the contemporary Christian bands Love & The Outcome, Stars Go Dim, Finding Favour, Unspoken, Sidewalk Prophets, Tenth Avenue North, and MercyMe will take the stage. Their performances will stretch from one o’clock to nine o’clock, with breaks in between for families to visit, eat, swish down a zipline, or take a few bounces on a bungee trampoline. Then, beginning at 2:15 on Saturday, Exit 244, We Are Messenger’s, Matt Hammitt, Meredith, Andrews, and the Newsboys will fill the mountain air with praise and worship music.
“Every artist we have coming has worked with us in the past and seen how hard we work and how important this ministry is to us,” Jeff Wall says. “We are very excited about this amazing lineup we have. [The artists] are very complimentary of our ministry and they continue to come back and work with us.”
For parents who hope to once again capture the hearts of their teens, the festival offers a Gospel-centered atmosphere without confrontation, a place where musicians, not parents, share the piercing honesty and unshakeable allure of Jesus’s love. Gail Wall reassures, “The style of Christian music we will have at River Rock is relevant for teenagers and the message from the artists about their relationship with God will be attractive to those teens looking for God.” Mothers and fathers of younger ones can rest easy as well–earplugs can stay at home on the kitchen counter. “This is a safe and fun environment for kids. Since it is outdoors there should be no need for earplugs. There will be plenty of space to sit where it is comfortable.”
In addition to a spectacular musical selection, the River Rock Music Festival also invites engaging speakers to address the guests. “We also have 2 speakers for the weekend,” shares Jeff. “They will be former NFL football player Jeff Kemp…and Reid Saunders from the Luis Palau Association.”On Friday, Jeff Kemp, whose professional football career came to a sudden end, will speak about faith, family, and overcoming from a deeply personal angle. Now the vice president of the marriage and family advocacy group, FamilyLife, Jeff Kemp uses his unique life story as a platform from which to assure others that, with Christ, hope and healing will emerge from failure. On Saturday, Reid Saunders will speak about Jesus Christ and His critical role in evangelism and the Christian life.
When asked why people from out of state should consider traveling to the event, Jeff Wall responds, “I believe it is worth driving from all distances because our festival has so much to offer people. The beautiful atmosphere, the great music line-up offered, the hotel accommodations and the relaxed schedule makes for an all-around amazing time for everyone.”
When it’s time to tune expectantly back into the soulful and foot-tapping artistry of Christianity’s preeminent bands, guests can look forward to experiencing God’s presence in a fresh way through the music at Rive Rock Music Festival. As our friends in Tenth Avenue North like to tell us, “there’s freedom waiting in the sound.”
Learn more or buy tickets for the 2nd Annual River Rock Music Festival at riverrockfestival.com