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If you go
What: Fandana Festival 2013
When: Today through Sunday
Where: Huntington University campus, 2303 College Ave., Huntington
Admission : $35 for adult one-day pass, $56 for adult weekend pass, $10 for full weekend pass for ages 6 to 10. Camp sites and dorm rooms are available to rent. For a full schedule of times and events and tickets, go to
Courtesy photos
James and the Drifters will join dozens of acts filling the concert lineup for Fandana Festival 2013 in Huntington.

Singing messages of hope

Huntington University expands Fandana lineup, film festival

Needtobreathe will headline the festival stage Saturday.

The Huntington-based group James and the Drifters is made up of versatile musicians who became friends playing for their church.

Guitarist Ben Chamberlin says the most memorable performance to date for the country-rock band was behind prison bars.

Last year, the band checked into the Ernest C. Brooks State Correctional Facility in Muskegon, Mich., and played for inmates in the yard.

“That was a really good experience. The inmates had so much hope – it was such a powerful thing,” Chamberlin says. “I think hope and faith go hand in hand; hope is having faith in things we haven’t seen yet. We believe in our music and we play for everyone.”

James and the Drifters will bring their message of hope to the 2013 Fandana Festival, which will feature 50 music acts and a film festival that takes place on multiple stages.

The faith-based festival has experienced quite the growth spurt as national and local music and film artists travel to Huntington University for the third year. This is the second year James and the Drifters, who will perform Saturday, will be a part of the lineup.

“We had a really good time last year; we made a lot of new fans. It was a different audience to play for, and we made a lot of friends with the great artists there,” Chamberlin says. “It was fun to have that big festival feeling.”

Contemporary Christian artists Needtobreathe, Love and Death and Matt Maher will headline the festival’s main stage. Katie Mitchell, coordinator of the festival’s marketing and operations, says it was important for the festival to continue increasing its presence.

“Since the first year, music has been our strongest selling point. We wanted to expand all areas this year,” she says. “We are also trying to get the community involved a bit more. A lot (of) people don’t know what to expect until they get here. People can’t believe something like this is in Huntington, right on the campus.”

The film festival will show three documentaries made by regional filmmakers.

“The Last Mile,” created by Columbia City resident and runner John Burkett, explores the reason people run. “Thrive with Less” is the result of six young people – five from Michigan and one from Minnesota – who decided to take on personal projects to change excessive lifestyle habits. And a documentary on the internationally renowned Roanoke restaurant Joseph Decuis will explore the restaurant’s lead in the American farm-to-fork revolution.

“I think with the film festival, we have an opportunity to reach people in a different way than music and visual arts can,” coordinator Nathan Hartman says.

“The Fort Wayne area has a vast amount of filmmaking talent, and there is a resurgence of local films being created in the Fort Wayne area. Fandana is an outlet for that.”

The film festival also will include short films and the showing of a national feature film, “The Emperor,” starring Academy Award-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox. Hartman says he has been happy with how the film festival has been able to stand on its own.

“It’s like a spoke on the wheel; everything goes through the core of art. The film festival has really grown and flourished this year,” he says.

The festival will also feature comedians, archery tag, hot air balloon rides and inflatable games. Mitchell says that new to this year’s festival will be a Color War. Inspired by the color runs, two teams will launch brightly colored powders at each other.

Julie Hendryx, coordinator for Huntington University, says the festival has helped the campus “step out of its box” for a weekend.

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity to bring folks on campus and show them how to get involved in the community,” she says. “It offers an opportunity for bands that are just starting out, and it offers a film festival that can give folks an opportunity to start or continue with film.”

Chamberlin says that his band has noticed an increase in fans since the festival last year, and he is just as excited to see some of his favorite bands, too. He says the festival shows how art and music can bring people of different faiths together.

“Art is art,” Chamberlin says. “This is a good time to hear or see some good art, and find something new.”