Praise Him in the Park set for Monday

DAY-LONG CONCERT: Audience members are free to come and go during the annual Praise Him in the Park event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. (Pioneer file photo)

DAY-LONG CONCERT: Audience members are free to come and go during the annual Praise Him in the Park event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — As shoppers browse the wares at the Labor Day Arts and Crafts Show, they’ll be able to hear music floating on the breeze.

The eighth annual Praise Him in the Park music festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 5, at the Bandshell. The free event is designed to share Christian music with as many people as possible.

SOUTHERN GOSPEL: The quartet 4 One will perform during Praise Him in the Park from 10 to 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. (Courtesy photo)

SOUTHERN GOSPEL: The quartet 4 One will perform during Praise Him in the Park from 10 to 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. (Courtesy photo)

“I started Praise Him in the Park eight years ago, when I was the worship leader at Trinity Fellowship Evangelical Free Church,” said David Yonker, event organizer. “I felt God saying, ‘Take the music outside the church walls.’ So we took it to the park, where anybody can come.”

About 300 people came the first year, Yonker estimates, with audience numbers swelling to 700 or 800 the next year, and attendance has been between 700 and 1,000 people annually since then.

CHRISTIAN COUNTRY: Chris Hayle will perform during Praise Him in the Park from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. (Courtesy photo)

CHRISTIAN COUNTRY: Chris Hayle will perform during Praise Him in the Park from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. (Courtesy photo)

This year’s schedule includes four artists. Southern gospel group 4 One will perform from 10 to 11 a.m.; Christian country singer Chris Hayle from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.; Michael Howe, of Reed City, from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m., playing the acoustic guitar and singing; and Yonker from 1:30 to 3 p.m., playing contemporary Christian rock music from the David Yonker Band. Though he will be alone on stage, Yonker will have the sound of a full band thanks to electronic recordings, as his bandmates were not able to attend.

Though Praise Him in the Park was initially presented on Sunday of Labor Day weekend as part of the now-defunct Riverdays festival, the event was moved to Monday in its third year.

ACOUSTIC SOUND: Michael Howe will perform during Praise Him in the Park from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. (Courtesy photo)

ACOUSTIC SOUND: Michael Howe will perform during Praise Him in the Park from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. (Courtesy photo)

“My goal was always to get it on Monday with the arts and crafts show, because thousands of people come to that,” Yonker said. “The feedback after our first year on Monday was exceptional. Everybody in the park could hear the music and it added an extra element the arts and crafts show had never had. It worked out really well.”

To cover a five-hour span of time, Yonker likes to invite different artists and groups so a single performer or group doesn’t have to be on stage for the whole time. While he varies the artists, he has always been part of the music.

CHRISTIAN ROCK: The David Yonker Band will perform during Praise Him in the Park from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. (Courtesy photo)

CHRISTIAN ROCK: The David Yonker Band will perform during Praise Him in the Park from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. (Courtesy photo)

“I love playing in it every year,” he said. “The first three years, I didn’t have a band and I played with the worship team from church.”

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Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

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