Thousands of Christian music fans spent nearly all of last week camped out for the 26th Cornerstone Festival outside Bushnell, Ill., joined by more than 300 musicians performing on over a dozen stages.
From last Monday until Saturday, Cornerstone attendees praised, bonded, had fun, and even learned, as many took part in the seminars offered throughout the last four days of the six-day gathering.
"The fest kicked off with some beautiful weather and great music," organizers reported Tuesday
"It's hard to truly understand Cornerstone without experiencing it," they added later in the week.
Though rain fell as the festival drew near the final day – the Fourth of July – and muddy conditions forced some changes, organizers pressed hard to make this year's gathering an "epic event" as promised.
"It's been a great week and the organizers of the festival should be saluted for once again giving us a music and arts festival that just barely kisses the edge of chaos, but at the same time gives us the freedom to enjoy music in whatever manner we like," Cornerstone blogger Jeff Holland reported Monday.
Since its debut in 1984 as an outreach program of Chicago-based Jesus People USA (aka JPUSA, or Jah-poo-sah), the Cornerstone Festival has grown to become one of the top annual Christian festivals in the nation.
Aside from the music, a number of seminars on a wide range of issues are held each summer throughout the festival's weeklong celebration and feature more than 30 speakers.
The Cornerstone Festival also offers a number of outdoor games for its attendees, including sports tournaments, canoe races, and skateparks, as well as film showcases from the Chicago-based film ministries Flickerings and Imaginarium.
"Whether it's moshing in a pit of crazy kids, sitting in our chairs in the back, taking photographs, journaling, or hanging out with our friends before they turn up the amps and crank it to 11 on a stage powered by a generator on the side of the road, I think everyone enjoyed Cornerstone in their own way," commented Holland. "Yet, through all of it, things go mostly on schedule and everyone stays safe and has a great time."
This year's event featured bands including Bluetree, Family Force 5 and Anberlin, as well as solo artists such as Brian "Head" Welch and KJ-52.
The festival also included a Prayer Tent hosted by the 24-7 Prayer movement.
Cornerstone Festival director John Herrin estimated this year's attendance to be around 16,000 to 17,000 - roughly the same as last year.
He told The Christian Post that he could hardly wait to get the ball rolling for 2010.