Fairs and carnivals are out. Music festivals are in. At least that’s the perception one might get from today’s younger generations. Music festivals big and small, folk and EDM, weeklong or weekend long are the rage, and it seems like local fairs and carnivals don’t have the same place they used to. Michigan itself is home to a number of notable music festivals like the Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury, to Charlotte’s own bluegrass festival. But in 2017 one of the County Journal’s communities tried something new, yet something classic and ole timey at the same time. A few creative citizens brought together a handful of oddball ideas into one music festival and carnival hodgepodge that’s become the heir of the beloved Gizzard Festival.

Gospel Fest is Potterville’s newest summer project; an opportunity to bring the family out for a taste of classic American music, while also enjoying the novelties of old American carnivals. Throughout June 8 and 9 Potterville residents, and visitors, can listen between two stages of music, while roaming through craft booths, food vendors, petting zoos, fair rides, and the modest downtown of Potterville. Both Friday and Saturday festivities take place between the hours of 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.

But Gospel Fest won’t just be an event of dusting off old hymns and gospel standards, or the same old same old fair attractions. The Gospel Fest stages will feature contemporary and local music acts like hip hop artist Elohin, as well as comedy from Will McDaniel. Saturday, June 9, from 3 to 5 p.m. there will be an Eaton County’s Got Talent competition, and there will also be a parade Saturday at 1 p.m. Local features and local participation are all included in the 2018 Gospel Fest.

For Clint Dickerson and the other Gospel Fest organizers, the 2018 festival is again about Potterville unity. It’s not lost on them that communities like Potterville are a mix of old and young generations that may not always have common ground in their town. Older folks wonder why teens want nothing to do with them, young families wonder what activities there are to do with their children, and teens and children just want food and excitement. Events like Gospel Fest are opportunities for the middle ground, where the older folks can hear the classic picking and strumming of that old time religion, and younger generations can wear off the school year blues with fair rides and cotton candy. Gospel Fest is a new idea for Potterville, but it’s a testament to days gone by where family, music, and community can all be part of the same event.

Gospel Fest is still in need of volunteers. To volunteer, readers can contact Clint Dickerson by calling (517) 285-2640. To participate in the parade or Eaton County’s Got talent, readers can also call Clint, or email pottervillegospelfest@gmail.com. For booth information, readers can contact Clarissa Newton by calling (517) 604-0390. Gospel Fest is a free, two-day event June 8 and 9.