Inspiration at a premium — that's the goal of this weekend's Joyfest Christian Music Festival, slated for Saturday at the .
The seed for this spiritually enriching event, originally called Faith Fest, was planted in the late 1990s by the Rev. Andy Hagen, a former pastor of , who sought to incorporate music into a broader worship experience.
What started as small Christian musical experience eventually grew into a village-wide celebration once Deputy Mayor Leroy Brown was recruited and assumed the organizational reins.
"When we first started out in 1998, the idea was to host a 'Gospel Fest' in Bolingbrook," he said. "Even from the beginning, we had a good turnout. We changed the name to Joyfest later on because it better captured the spirit of what we were doing."
By 2000, nine local churches choirs — The Noise Music Ministry from Joyful Spirit, Choir, the worship team at , Adult Gospel Choir, Fellowship Chapel Worship Team, Choir, The Voices of and Worship Band — had joined the effort.
"We were able to grow because all our committee members," Brown adds. "Deloris Ivy, Claudia Simmons, Tom Fink, Harris Franklin, Sheldon Watts, Jennifer Simms-Ingraham and Ruth Newell all take what they are doing very seriously."
As the years passed and Joyfest's operation was honed to an exact science, core organizers began to explore avenues to extend the event's reach.
"We really worked on extending the musical message," said Ivy, who also helped found the event. "We started having well-known gospel artists like Grammy-winner Smokey Norful perform, and Joyfest just exploded."
Now, Joyfest draws more than 5,000 visitors — not just from , but also from Chicago and surrounding suburbs.
The 26 churches represented will showcase their soloists, choirs, praise dancers and various musicians.
Headlining this year are recording artists Donald "Buster" Woods and the Chicago-based gospel choir G3.
This year also will mark the debut of Christian comedians Ada Lewis, and Ashanti Taylor. Other featured performers include Barry Dixon and the Reflections of Worship from Indianapolis and pastor Ira J. Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church in Chicago.
Giveaways like gas cards and gift baskets also will be offered at the free event, as well as inflatables, and the Bolingbrook Park District’s trackless train and climbing wall.
Food will be available for a fee from , , . and .
"Joyfest is a spiritual event that is fun for the whole family. I love it because diversity is shown through the art of music," said Joyfest committee member Claudia Simmons. "It's beautiful to see people from Bolingbrook and all over Chicagoland come together to celebrate the spirit of God and have that spirit spread within everyone’s heart and soul."