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The sea of people and tents visible from the Sonshine stage in this 2009 file photo illustrate what the annual Christian music festival has grown to become -- a community of its own on the edge of Willmar. (Tribune file photo)

Founders amazed at growth of Sonshine Festival over its 30 years in Willmar, Minn.

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WILLMAR -- The Sonshine Music Festival in its 30 years has grown beyond what the founders could imagine, according to Festival Director Bob Poe, who set out to create it in 1981.

A local youth pastor at the time, Poe wanted to give his kids something more to help affirm their belief in Christ and experience it through music.

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