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Published: 7/30/2011

Music fest expected to draw thousands

National acts top musical bill at free event

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Christian singer-songwriter Matthew West will be one of the top acts at Exclaim 2011 at the Msgr. Jerome Schmit CYO Athletic Complex. The family-friendly event is sponsored by the Toledo Catholic Diocese. Christian singer-songwriter Matthew West will be one of the top acts at Exclaim 2011 at the Msgr. Jerome Schmit CYO Athletic Complex. The family-friendly event is sponsored by the Toledo Catholic Diocese.
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Exclaim 2011, the largest free Christian music festival in northwest Ohio, takes place Sunday in Toledo with nationally known artists Matthew West and Britt Nicole topping the marquee.

With no tickets to be sold or counted, however, organizers can only guesstimate what attendance will be.

“The hardest part about Exclaim is that it’s a guessing game [on attendance],” said Mike Puppos, the festival’s co-director. “Last year, we had 3,500. I think with Matthew West and Britt Nicole, we will see at least 5,000. But we may be blown away.”

With good weather, he said, as many as 10,000 people could show up for the second annual festival, sponsored by the Toledo Catholic Diocese.

Exclaim takes place at the Msgr. Jerome Schmit CYO Athletic Complex, 555 South Holland-Sylvania Rd.

“We will have enough food vendors, bathrooms, and parking. It’s a massive complex, so there will be plenty of room,” Mr. Puppos said. “If there is a big crowd and there are some lines, I just hope everybody will be patient.”

Gates open at noon and the first performance will be local battle-of-the-bands winner Rhythmic Grace at 1 p.m. Catholic musician John Angotti goes on at 2 p.m.; Ms. Nicole at 3:30, and Mr. West at 5 p.m. The festival closes with a Mass at 7:30 p.m.

“This event has a very Catholic identity to it … but we wanted to hold an event in the area that is not just Catholic but for the entire Christian community,” said Mr. Puppos, who is the director of music and youth ministries at Blessed John XIII Parish in Perrysburg Township.

Mr. Puppos said the festival’s family-friendly, alcohol-free environment — featuring games, vendor and ministry booths, a cool-off zone, and giveaways — should make everyone feel at home regardless of their faith.

“So many times we get caught up in the differences instead of really celebrating the commonalities,” he said.

“This is really a celebration for everybody to be a part of.”

Mr. West, the award-winning singer-songwriter whose latest Sparrow Records CD was The Story of Your Life, is known for such hits as “Family Tree,” “More,” “One Less,” and “The Motions.”

Ms. Nicole, a native of Salisbury, N.C., has been singing in church since age 3 and recently released her sophomore album, The Lost Get Found.

Information on Exclaim is available by calling 419-874-6502 or online at exclaimtoledo.org.

Contact David Yonke at: dyonke@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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