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March 2014 News

Easterfest focussing on love and community

  • Written by  Ian Anderson
Organisers hope to create a greater sense of community at this years Easterfest Photo: Josh Woning

Financial pressure may be casting doubt over the future of Easterfest, but this uncertainty has resulted in a refocus of the festival vision. 

“It’s been a tough year financially,” said event director Dave Schenk. “So if you decide to go again you really want to know why you do what you do.”

Dave said that as the team reflected on the purpose of Easterfest, they developed a surprising vision statement. 

“It doesn’t even mention the word festival,” he said. “It’s all about creating an environment where people encounter God’s crazy love.”

‘Crazy Love’ was the theme for last years festival, and again this year, the theme is ‘Love Changes Everything’. 

“If people have a real encounter with God – not just a festival experience but a God experience – that will really make a difference. That changes people,” said Dave.

“At Easterfest, you don’t see that so much in alter calls. A lot of that stuff happens around a campsite with an acoustic guitar at one o’clock  in the morning as people unpack the things they’ve heard or questions that have come up during the day,” said Dave.

“So it really happens in community.” 

It is this sense of community that Easterfest are wanting to foster this year.

“We’re not just talking about shallow community, that sense of a bunch of people in the same place at the same time. We’re talking about a real depth of community, with a group of people in the same place who have a similar world view.”

This year, the team have been intentional about doing things that they believe will build community.

“We have totally reinvented our cafe venue as the village green this year,” said Dave. “It will be a place where the community comes together. It will be vibey, creative and a place where you can come and just hang out with people.”

They are also exploring the  possibility of having a large camp fire as part of the festival.

“Whether it’s an actual camp fire or a virtual camp fire, we are trying to recreate the vibe of 10 people sitting around a fire with an acoustic guitar, but on-mass. It will be big enough for a couple of thousand people, but that same camp fire vibe.”

They are also hoping to make meal times a place to encourage community. 

“One of the best ways to build community is to eat together. A lot of our venues will shut down over lunch each day. The things that happen over that time will focus on getting people to eat together.” 

An example of this will be ‘Lunch with Switchfoot’ at the Palace venue on Easter Saturday. 

“It will be a Q&A, but it’s about eating together, building relationship, and discovering them as people, not rock stars.”

Having Switchfoot, one of the biggest rock bands in the world, headline the festival is no guarantee that this year will be a financial success.

“The natural of what we do has always been terrifying,” said Dave. “For us, the vast majority of income we receive for the whole year comes in about a month, and a whole chunk of that comes in three days.”

Dave said it is normal by Easter Thursday to need hundreds of thousands of dollars before they even break even. 

“The challenge this year is that we face those same circumstances with absolutely no financial buffer whatsoever after the challenges we had last year.”

“At the end of the day, we are on our knees trusting God like we have had to every other year. If He has got a future for Easterfest then He will provide for it.”

For the full line up of artists, what's happening and to purchase tickets, go to www.easterfest.com

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