By Ryan Berry
GREENVILLE — Tickets are still available for The Illumination Festival when it returns to the Darke County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Sept. 16. The 16th annual event will feature several bands on the main stage beginning late afternoon and continuing into the evening. That will be the culmination of events that will be taking place throughout the day on the fairgrounds.
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.
Although there is a cost for the main concert, admission is free to the fairgrounds for the afternoon activities, including food trucks, games activities and a Coffee House. The fairgrounds opens at 11 a.m. Local and regional entertainment at the Coffee House begins at 1 p.m. with Life Past Life at 1 p.m., Jacob Shane & Co. at 2 p.m., and He Knows Our Name at 3 p.m.
Illumination and Fish Choice Food Pantry are once again joining forces to kick-off the Fish Choice Food Pantry food drive. Canned good donations will be accepted at the front gate. Visitors are encouraged to support the pantry and help local residents in need.
There will also be plenty of games and activities on the midway for visitors.
Some of the concessions signed up include Badger’s BBQ, Martin’s Concessions, Mike’s Family Concessions, Heavenly Soft Pretzels, and MBJ Concessions. His Truth Ministries and Gideon International will also have booths.
New to the festival this year is a raffle for several great prizes. Tickets are on sale now and available by contact Marty McCabe or any festival committee member. The festival will be using Ohio Lottery’s Pick 3 numbers beginning Sept. 17 to determine the winners. Each $20 ticket has two opportunities to win. Prizes will be given out seven straight days. They include $250 Blue Bicket Supplies – Sherwin Williams, Sept. 17; $500 Blackstone Grill – Ace Hardware, Sept. 18; $320 Meat Package – Ketring Meats, Sept. 19; $300 Local Business Gift Certificates, Sept. 20; $250 Gift Certificate – Sure Shot, Sept. 21; $250 Gift Certificate – Whistle Stop, Sept. 22; and S&W MP Shield 9mm – Zegun Arms, Sept. 23. Each ticket will have two chances to win as the Pick 3 is drawn twice daily. Call 937-459-2515 to purchase a raffle ticket. Funds will help offset the cost of concert tickets and assist at keeping ticket prices affordable.
Tickets for the 2023 Illumination Festival are available through the Illumination Festival website, www.illuminationfestival.org. General Admission group seating is available at a discounted price. Contact Marty McCabe, 937-459-2515, for information and to purchase group seats.
To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].