Second annual Niles Jesus Fest returns July 6

Published 6:30 pm Friday, June 30, 2023

NILES — The Niles Jesus Fest is returning to downtown next week.

The second annual festival – organized by Niles area churches will take place from Thursday, July 6 to Sunday, July 9, with the festival kicking off at 4 p.m. Thursday at Riverfront Park. The festival will feature Christian music from a variety of genres including gospel, bluegrass, rap, hip-hop, rock and more. In addition, food arts and crafts vendors will be onsite to ensure  there is  something for everyone. 

For Michiana Christian Embassy Pastor and Jesus Fest event coordinatorJeff Whittaker, the event is a communal celebration of Jesus and the Christian faith. 

“It will be four straight days of worship, singing songs and lifting up Jesus,” he said. “We’re going to be working on praying for the country and watching the community come together.”

Whittaker said that in year’s past, the church would get a table and fill the Riverfront Park hill during River Fest. As the current vision for the downtown began to take shape and interest in Christian music increased, Whittaker and his fellow organizers created Jesus Fest to bring area Christians together.

“Over the years, we found ourselves in a position where we could have an entire weekend,” he said. “We were at the Apple Fest and River Fest and those things, so it’s been interesting to see the way the community has come together for this event.”

After hosting last year’s inaugural event, Whittaker said anticipation for this year’s event has been high.

“It’s been a lot of fun to answer phone calls,” he said. “We’re excited that we have more bands, more musicians. The ripples in the pond are going further so we’re starting to have more interest on a lot of levels, so it’s great.”

It’s always good to see people on their lawn chairs and blankets enjoying the positive praise of worship. There have been people for some years who have wanted to go down to the boat launch to be baptized. It’s about strengthening relationships and being able to speak and sing into the hearts of the town and just have a great, festive time together.”

Below is the festival lineup:

Thursday, July 6

4 p.m. – The Grateful Living with Katy Monroe and P. Scott Smith | Folk Music

5:30 p.m. – Pastor Jeff Whitaker

6:30 p.m. – Portage Road General Baptist Church

7:30 p.m. – David Wall with Work In Progress | Christian Country Music

Stage closes at 9 p.m.

Friday, July 7

4 p.m. – Open Mic

5 p.m. The Clean Family Singers

6 p.m. – Eric McDaniels

7 p.m. – Pastor Andre Love and I Care Church

8 p.m. P. Scott and The Prairie Dogs | Bluegrass

Stage closes at 9:30 pm.

Saturday, July 8

11 a.m. – Open Mic

12 p.m. – Katy Monroe | Worship Music

1 p.m. – Backwater Revival | Bluegrass

2 p.m. – John Lee

3 p.m. – P. Scott and The Prairie Dogs, Bluegrass

4 p.m. – Brett Eastman | The comedian with a message.

5 p.m. Backwater Revival | Bluegrass

6 p.m. – Savannah Whittaker

7 p.m. – P. Scott and the Prairie Dogs | Bluegrass

8 p.m. – Ain’t No Blues | Christian Jam Band

Stage closes at 9:30 pm

Sunday, July 9

10 a.m. – “Worship As One” | All Niles Community Christian Worship, many Niles churches 12:30 p.m. – P. Scott and the Prairie Dogs| Bluegrass

2 p.m. – Pastor Jeff Whittaker

Jesus Fest 2023 concludes at 3 p.m.