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Festival of faith is growing

What began as a booming one-day Christian music festival in Veterans Park 10 years ago has evolved into a days-long worship festival. Bracketed by tent revivals on the front end and an all-city church service Saturday the morning after, Wood City Worship Festival is the centerpiece of five days of opportunities "for people to meet Jesus," said Lee Harris, of Kingdom Builders Ministries, the non-denominational non-profit Christian organization that organizes the free annual event.

Tent revivals began Wednesday night at Veterans Park and continued Thursday from 6-8 p.m. each evening. They move to Kingdom Builders' Common Ground Coffee Bar & Deli on Avenue C and Broadway Friday night, before the big event on Saturday.

Then, Wood City Worship Festival returns to Cloquet's Veterans Park from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12.

The free Christian music festival features a wide range of musical styles, and musical acts include local and nationally known bands, including headliner We Are Messengers. Harris said they've been trying to book the band for several years, but this is the first time the band from Monaghan, Ireland, has been available during the second Saturday in August.

"They're pretty up there in the world of Christian music," he said.

Other bands Saturday include local worship bands at 11:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m., Presence Music (3 p.m.), Tru-Serva (4:15 p.m.), Trampolines (5:30 p.m.) and Brent Taylor (6:45 p.m.). We Are Messengers starts at 8:30 p.m.

While music takes center stage, there is also a large children's play area along with lots of tasty offerings from local food trucks, including Room at the Table, Holy Smokes, Ma and Pa's Fry Shack. People are welcome to bring their own food too.

Harris explained that Kingdom Builders decided to pivot from mainstream Christian music to a more worship style of music after the pandemic. The numbers didn't drop and the music festival remains very popular with locals and others who come from out of town for the fun. Harris said the children's play area keeps growing too, with bubbles and bouncies and other free fun for kids. They'll have a prayer tent and baptism tanks as well.

"The goal is to bring people that don't even know Christ, so it's evangelical in that sense," Harris said. "That's part of all the fun, to bring families so they can experience it. Christianity is not an unpleasant life - it's a blast. We're drawing people to God."

The weekend ends Sunday with an 11 a.m. all-city church service at Veterans Park. Harris is counting on good weather.

"I guess I'll just depend on God to make it not rain," he said Tuesday. "It's for him, so he's gotta make it work."

Find out more at woodcityworshipfest.com or just head down to Veterans Park on Saturday.

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