Local group shows spirit at ‘Spirit Fest’

A dozen local youths did more than just have a good time at the “Spirit Fest” concert in Detroit Lakes, Mn. last weekend. They set a good example for others there, Salvation Army youth outreach worker Heather Keeler said Monday.
Keeler, one of four Salvation Army employees who led the youths on the three-day excursion to the Christian music festival, praised her young charges on the fine job they did representing Fort Frances.
“They were walking testimonies to Fort Frances,” Keeler said of the group, who ranged in age from seven to 18.
Keeler noted they drew special attention from the crowd, including a local television station, for their high spirits and enthusiasm. “It’s cool that our young people were able to go out there and represent the town in such a good light,” she said.
Keeler said she was particularly struck by the positive attitude the group displayed Sunday morning after dark storm clouds threatened to cut short the day’s lineup at the outdoor venue.
“It started to pour down rain. Other groups ran for cover but our group stayed there and started singing songs. Then other people joined in,” she recounted.
After the storm, younger members of the group helped concert employees dump the water off chairs to get things back on schedule quickly.
“They made a situation that could have been a damper into a blessing instead,” Keeler said, adding they’ve been encouraged to do that by herself and other outreach workers.
“It was a huge blessing and encouragement for other people to see. We got to stand up for Fort Frances and say ‘We’re the kind of people who make a bad situation into something good.’”
Joanna Barron, 17, who went on the trip along with her sister, Lisa, 15, said she enjoyed the event and plans to go again next summer.
“I thought it was fantastic. The only problem was there was so much to see and not enough time to see it all,” she remarked.
To cover the costs of the outing, Keeler and fellow outreach workers organized fundraising events earlier this month, including a yard sale at the Salvation Army citadel and a free dinner in the basement of St. Mary’s Church.
A free-will offering was collected after the dinner, raising more than $700.
Altogether, organizers raised $1,060– enough to cover the cost of “Spirit Fest,” including meals, for nine of the youths. Three others were able to partly pay their own way.
The group slept for free at a Salvation Army facility upon arrival in Brainerd, Mn. on Friday but elected to stay in a lakeside hotel closer to the Detroit Lakes venue on the Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Keeler said she’s already looking forward to returning to the annual concert next summer.
“We have an idea of how it works now so we can be even better prepared next year,” she said.