Where can you see multiple nationally known, Grammy-winning (and nominated) recording artists on one stage for free?

Only at The Fest— hosted at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe since 2000 as a way to celebrate faith, family and fun.

The big draw for many to the daylong event is the Christian recording artists, which, this year, included not one, but two “American Idol” finalists in Mandisa (season five) and Colton Dixon (season 11). In addition, multi-platinum-selling rockers Third Day were the headliners.

“We love playing events like The Fest because we are music fans first and foremost,” said Third Day guitarist Mark Lee. “It is a huge honor to share the stage with other artists we love, such as Colton and Mandisa.

“Music is such a powerful part of faith. It provides a direct connection to the heart, so you’re able to communicate and reach people in a way that you can’t through any other means.”

Sponsored by the Diocese of Cleveland and organized by a team of 1,400 volunteers, the Aug. 3 event was anticipated to attract more than 38,000 people. That number might have been shattered as the weather cooperated with partly sunny skies and relatively cooler temperatures.

“We’ve seen an insane number of people already,” organizer the Rev. Bob Stec said in the early afternoon. “I think people love coming to The Fest because it’s a family day, a day of community. … God gave us a beautiful day, we have great bands and wonderful activities.”

This year’s theme was “Chosen,” representing “God choosing us to make our world a better place,” Stec said.

“Not only is it God choosing us, but also how do we make good, godly choices?” he said.

During the past 14 years, The Fest has become a highlight of summer for many families, who set up canopies, lawn chairs and/or blankets across the sprawling center’s grounds. Food-for-sale is available in abundance and there is plenty for the kids to do.

“People tell us it’s like a mini retreat for them,” Stec said.

The event is put on for free with support from Medical Mutual, Marc’s, Sherwood Foods, PNC Bank and Notre Dame College.

The day culminates in a Catholic Mass, followed by fireworks.

“What an awesome opportunity to see great artists for free and worship God,” said Tanya Howard of Painesville.

Original article can be found here: http://www.news-herald.com/general-news/20140803/the-fest-2014-delivers-for-overflow-crowd