For twenty-eight years, the Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, IL has drawn bands and attendees from all over the country and sometimes even the world. Thousands of people have been ministered to and rocked out to some of the best names in music. Not only was the it a place to hear huge acts but up-and-comers filled lots of stage. Talented musicians who could never get radio airplay (especially with Christian radio's current limitations) were able to be seen by audiences that otherwise might never had heard them. There was something special about it.
Now we're facing the last year the biggest Christian music festivals in the Midwest. Glenn Kaiser and JPUSA (Jesus People USA) have decided to end their sponsorship of the even after this year's festival. It's just gotten too expensive to keep up. JPUSA has been forced to do very serious fundraisers to support the last couple of events. It has gotten so expensive to put on the festival that despite huge attendance it really is cost prohibitive. It's too bad.
The passing of the fest has more effects than just direct ones. Here in Peoria, we'll be losing out as well. Each year, we have concerts put on by these bands passing through on their way to or from Cornerstone at greatly reduced cost. We get to see some really great acts. This year, there's a metal concert that's almost a mini-fest among many others. There's more going on in the area. I'm also willing to bet that other Central Illinois cities like Bloomington/Normal and Springfield have similar shows. We are able to hear bands that may never have come to Peoria without C-Stone.
When I got the email that this was the last year, my first thought wasn't about the festival itself. It was the loss of the concerts around it. The second was to wonder who would take up the mantle and launch a new festival in the Midwest. The thing about America is that when an opportunity presents itself someone will eventually take it up.
I have a lot of hope that there will be something to replace it. I've already seen a lot of Facebook chatter about it. Most of it is speculative at this point but all it takes to go from speculation to concert is a little bit of money. It will be a lot smaller in the beginning no matter where it is but it can grow.
I admit to feeling the loss as are many of my friends and acquaintances. It will be a long time before the hole left by the end of Cornerstone will be filled.