Christian music festival to rock Milford, benefit Habitat for Humanity

MILFORD – Ten years ago, Milford United Methodist Church moved into a new building on a spacious lot on North River Road.

The congregation is going to celebrate that anniversary with a Christian music festival on
Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 27-28.

Church members recently talked with the Rev. Casey Collins and “decided the celebration can’t be about us. We’ve got to lift someone up,” said Steve Rafter, who was on the building committee 10 years ago and has been planning the festival.

The church already had a relationship with Greater Nashua Habitat for Humanity, so it decided to make the festival a benefit for the nonprofit, which helps needy people build houses for themselves.

The event is called Hopefest 2016, and two nationally known Christian artists, Mark Schultz and Ryan Stevenson, will be the headliners on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 27.

Local artists include Jonas Woods, Ryan Bossie, the band Epic Season, the Rock My Soul Gospel Choir and the New Fellowship Baptist Church Choir. Gates will open at 9 a.m. Saturday, with Epic Season kicking off the music at 10.

There will be camping on the big field behind the church, and arts and craft vendors, children’s activities and food.

Another New Hampshire Christian music festival, SoulFest, brings several thousand people each summer to the Gunstock Mountain Resort
in Gilford.

Rafter said he is hoping for 700-1,000 people, and organizers have been trained on crowd control by the Milford Fire Department.

The field is about the size of a football field and can hold many more people than that, Rafter said. There will be overflow parking available in one of the Trombly fields and a shuttle bus.

Greater Nashua Habitat for Humanity serves a 14-town area that extends from Windham to Greenville. Over the last seven years, it has built only seven houses but has done many smaller home projects, Rafter said, adding that he thinks many people don’t know it exists.

“We want to raise awareness of the wonderful work they do,” Rafter said. “There are plenty of people around here” who could use their help.

The Merrimack Home Depot is donating materials and volunteers, but it is still a huge challenge to put on an event such as this for the first time. Rafter calls it a “leap of faith. … It’s amazing to see how God makes things happen.”

Tickets are $40, $35 for seniors, and no charge for children 12 and younger. For tickets, visit hope
festnh.org. To volunteer, email info@hopefestnh.org, or call Rafter at 582-1352 or the office at 673-2669.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@nashuatelegraph.com.