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Downtown festival to promote family values, organizers say

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2002 10:00 pm

Downtown Lodi will be bustling with a new kind of festival on Saturday. This one blends downtown businesses with the religious community.

"We really want to bring back to downtown Lodi the idea of family values," said Linda Miglio, administrative coordinator of the Downtown Lodi Business Partnership.

Eighteen churches along with other religious organizations will participate in the first-ever Family Faith Festival from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday on School Street between Pine Street and Lodi Avenue and along Oak and Walnut streets.

The festival will feature games for children and teen-agers, musical groups, games for children and teen-agers, food booths and other attractions. No alcohol will be served.

Different areas will be separated by age group and musical interest. A youth stage for teens, featuring rap and hard rock - albeit with a Christian flavor - will be at Walnut and Sacramento streets. A 20-ramp skate park and a dunk tank featuring teachers and Lodi City Council

members will be available, said festival chairwoman Cheryl McLachlan.

A stage for children, featuring a concert by Christian rock pioneer Randy Stonehill called "Uncle Stonehill's Hat" will be on School Street in front of the post office.

Also for children will be a series of rides and games on School between Oak and Pine streets. There will be bounce houses, an obstacle course and a giant tricycle course.

The main stage, also known as "the please everybody" stage, will be at Lodi and School streets.

In addition to Stonehill, performers will include Ronnie Freeman, Test of Faith, The River, Justified and 38th Parallel.

Churches will have their own booths consisting of games and food. The festival is free except for food and some fund-raising activities, McLachlan said.

Vine and Branches Christian Bookstore will have a booth called "Sanctify Your Sounds," where people can bring one secular compact disc to the booth and replace it with what McLachlan describes as uplifting Christian music that doesn't focus on death and destruction.

"It's safe to bring your kids down here," Miglio said. "It's safe to bring your family down here. That's one of the best ways to get message out to the community, through the faith-based community."

Churches sponsoring the festival are Bear Creek Community, Century Assembly, Faith Fellowship Foursquare, Harvest Bible, Westside Assembly, Salvation Army, Temple Baptist, New Hope Community, Heartland Community and First Baptist churches.

Other participating churches include Reveal Ministry, New Harvest Christian Fellowship, Fairmont Seventh-day Adventist, Baha'i Community of Lodi, Cornerstone Evangelical Free, First United Methodist and Lodi Avenue Baptist.

Also participating are Compassion International, Jim Elliot Christian High School cheerleaders, Mokelumne River School, Oneighty Teen Center, Pregnancy Resource Center, Itis Creation, Christian Motorcyclists Association and Christian Community Concerns.

The idea for the Family Faith Festival came after the annual Beer Fest was replaced last year by Lodi Live, McLachlan said. She and her father, Vine and Branches owner Phil Biddle, provided entertainment in front of their store on West Oak Street last year as an alternative from the beer-drinking environment on School Street.

Now the entire festival will be nonalcoholic, McLachlan said.

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