MOUNT UNION - Every year, the fields of the Agape Farm Retreat Center near Mount Union are transformed into the site of the largest Christian music festival on the east coast. Tents and campsites reach as far as the eye can see and thousands of people travel from all over the Northeast, even across the globe, to join the celebration that is Creation Festival.
This year, four stages became platforms for Christian music artists of varying genres, from worship to rock. On Thursday morning, children, teens and adults crowded at the main stage for a performance by the Australian band "for King and Country."
Kelsey Peachey, of Belleville, was in the audience. She said her love of music is what brought her to the festival for a second year.
Sentinel photos by BUFFIE BOYER
Siblings Brittany and Ryan Zook, of Allensville, enjoy listening to ‘for King and Country’ at Creation on Thursday near Mount Union.
Sentinel photos by BUFFIE BOYER
Kelsey Peachey, of Belleville, claps to the beat of one of her favorite bands ‘for King and Country’ at Creation on Thursday.
"I love music and I get to see a lot of my friends here," she said.
In fact, a few of her friends are members of the bands that performed throughout the weekend. Peachey is studying music business at Messiah College. Through her studies, she had the opportunity to spend a semester at the Contemporary Music Center in Nashville, Tenn., where she met a number of current band members and aspiring musicians.
As Joel and Luke Smallbone took the stage, Peachey joined a crowd of fans to sing and clap along with the music.
Brittany Zook, of Allensville, was also in the crowd and has been attending the event for four years. She went to Creation for the first time with her youth group and has returned every year since then.
Although she shares an interest in music, Zook also volunteers at the entrance gates throughout the week and said she enjoys that too. During the evenings, she spent her time welcoming guests to Agape Farm.
"I enjoy the concerts, but also volunteering and meeting people that come through the gate," she said.
This year, she looked forward to a performance by one of her favorite bands, Switchfoot.
Zook's brother, Ryan, was also along for the ride. He said that Creation 2012 would mark his first full stay at the festival, although he had visited before.
"(Creation is) pretty cool...a lot of people," he said about the first day.
Many attendees seemed to share his excitement and wonder as they sang and danced along at the main stage.
Meanwhile, other campers enjoyed a relaxing afternoon in the shade of their campsites. Daryl and Colette Hartzler, along with their daughters, Becca and Alicia, from Belleville, were preparing lunch as the music carried on.
"I love Creation," Becca said, as she listed some of her favorite bands and performances.
The Hartzler's have been attending the festival for four or five years with family and friends. This year, Analee Gentzel, of Yeagertown, and Allison Treaster, of Belleville, as well as Dan Grove and his son, Caleb, of Baltimore, Maryland, joined them.
"It's great being with good people," Dan said about the festival.
Despite the warm temperatures and dusty dirt roads at the farm, most would agree that Creation is a positive and unforgettable experience. From the long list of musical performances including David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, tobyMac and The Rocket Summer, to the games, activities and camping, there is something for everyone. As the Creation slogan boasts, the festival is likely to become "the highlight of your summer...maybe your life."
For more information, visit www.creationfest.com.