Immanuel Anglican Church sits on a large piece of land, and the members intend to use it.
The Destin church will host its first Immanuel Art & Music Fest, a free festival featuring art vendors, live music, a kids corner, barbecue food for sale and free snow cones from Johnny's Snow Cones. Doug Bowers, a church member and event organizer, hopes the event will bring people together.
“We really want to be an inviting church,” Bowers said. “Immanuel Anglican Church has been blessed with this really awesome piece of property, so we want to make sure we open that property up so we can use it in any way to bless the community.”
Immanuel Art & Music Fest starts at 11 a.m. April 27 on the lawn at 250 Indian Bayou Trail, Destin. Admission is free. The event is alcohol-free.
For more information, visit IACDestin.org/special-events/immanuel-art-music.
Father Caleb Miller came up with the idea for the Immanuel Art & Music Fest. He’s also responsible for the creation of the Immanuel Music Project, a ministry in which musicians of all genres can rehearse and record professional quality music in the church’s studio for free.
“He wants to make our church and our grounds very welcoming for the community,” Bowers said. “Most art festivals require you to pay a fee to have a booth to sell your art. Caleb thought, ‘Let’s open it up to as many artists as we can.’ They can come in for free and display their art. He decided to add the music aspect because there’s a lot of performers out there who don’t get a chance to play.”
The event will feature 15 visual artists, such as photographers, painters and embroiderers, Miller said. The festival will celebrate art and creativity, he said.
"We truly believe that when people create art, when they make music, that they are reflecting God’s image," Miller said. "God was the first artist, so to speak. We want to encourage people in their art and in their creation."
More than seven musical acts will perform, and the genres vary, Bowers said. The lineup includes Bon Hoeffers, a folk-rock band; Sheri Ransom, a classical and contemporary Christian musician; and Ria Kerrigan, a contemporary Christian Broadway musician. The Voice Studio of Kerrigan will bring voice students to perform Broadway music.
Some of the musicians aren’t local. The Grace Gang, a rap group, will travel from Bowling Green, Kentucky, to perform.
“I have no idea how they even found it,” Bowers said. “That’s the beauty of the whole thing. These people might not ever get out and play publicly. We’re giving them a platform to get out and do it.”
Mitch Rall, a drummer in the church’s praise band, will play a role at the festival in multiple capacities.
“Not only is he an outstanding musician, he’s also an artist,” Bowers said. “He’s going to be both displaying his art and also grabbing his acoustic guitar and playing a set by himself.”
Bowers is particularly excited about one band’s performance, his own. Bowers’ cover band, Duchess, will perform classic and hard rock.
“We play some Fleetwood Mac, some Heart, some Rolling Stones,” Bowers said. “We also play some Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. That’s a pretty good mix of music. I’m always excited to perform. It’s what I love doing.
“This will be the first time we’ve actually played together.”
Last fall, Immanuel Anglican Church hosted the Holy Smokes barbecue cook-off to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Miller said. The Immanuel Arts & Music Fest seems like the ideal spring event.
"One of the things we’re trying to do here at Immanuel is to continuously figure out ways to give back to the community," Miller said. "We believe that God’s blessed us with this gift, so we’d like to turn around and give back that gift to the community."