By Ryan Berry
GREENVILLE — The Illumination Festival will return to the Darke County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Sept. 16 for the 16th annual event. The festival features events throughout the day, including a coffee house with regional bands and artists, games and activities in the midway and several food trucks. The culmination of the event is the featured concert in front of the Grandstand.
This year’s concert will have an international flavor. The Irish band Rend Collective has been announced as the headliner. According to committee member Connie McCabe, the festival has tried for several years to get the band, but they weren’t touring in the U.S. when the event was held.
Joining Rend Collective on the main stage will be Andrew Ripp, Rachael Lampa and Billy Ballenger.
Rend Collective gives a high-energy show that fans will find inspirational and fun. According to their biography, the band has a unique sound birthed out of Bangor, Ireland. They strive to share good news as a response to the heaviness in the world.
The band has had seven albums reach #1 in the UK, including a string of six in a row. In the U.S. the band has reached #1 with their albums three times. The band’s single, Counting Every Blessing, reached #4 in the U.S.
Rend Collective’s most recent album, Whosoever, has been referred to as “a series of truths that you can turn up loud and dance to.” The Jesus Freak Hideout website called the album “a set of fantastic, timely lyrics that cut to the heart and echo with timeless truths.”
Andrew Ripp may be better known as a songwriter. Based in Nashville, Tenn., the Grammy-nominated writer has had songs appear on numerous charts. As a singer, he has produced five albums. His debut album came in 2008 with Fifty Miles to Chicago. Ripp has shared the stage with the likes of Andy Grammar, Sara Bareilles, Switchfoot and many others. The song Jericho from his Evergreen project reached #1 on two charts. Fill My Cup hit the top spot in 2022 on a couple of charts.
Rachael Lampa rose to fame at the age of 15. Her debut album came in 2000, which not only earned her a Dove Award, but she was able to work with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, including recording a duet with Aaron Neville. She has toured with Stacie Orrico, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Destiny’s Child, Boyz II Men and many others. In 2015, she worked as a backing vocalist for Irish singer Hozier. Some of her top hits include, Blessed, Shaken, God Loves You and Live for You. She also hit #2 on the charts with No Greater Love.
Billy Ballenger not only has a song but has a tremendous testimony that he has shared with students across the Midwest and in parts of Canada at schools, festivals, churches, conferences, camps and other venues. His life of partying, substance abuse, violence and burglary landed him and his wife in prison. Shortly before going to prison, Ballenger recommitted his life to Christ and his faith grew as he studied his Bible while incarcerated. He and his wife were released early and reunited with their daughter. In 2020, Ballenger joined the Winter Jam Tour. He has released six full-length albums as well as two EPs.
Tickets for the 2023 Illumination Festival will go on sale on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14 through itickets.com. VIP seats are in front of the stage and include a question-and-answer session with Rend Collective. Tickets are also available for Track Seating, Reserved Seats and General Grandstand Admission. Tickets, except for VIP seating, will be available with a $5 discount from May 14 through June 18 (Father’s Day). Tickets are an additional $5 for all seats the day of the show.
For more information, visit www.illuminationfestival.org.
To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].