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Music still the heartbeat of Sonshine

Joan Marcus, left, and Linda Friedlein, sisters from Willmar, talk Friday about their many years of working as Sonshine volunteer coordinators. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR - Thousands come to Sonshine Music Festival for the music and fellowship, and after three days of performances, attendees haven't been let down by the biggest names in Christian music.

Christian crunk rock band Family Force 5, who hail from Atlanta, Ga., headlined Wednesday night, kicking off the festival on the right foot, Sara Johnson, of Norwood Young America, said.

"Their show was just so fun," Johnson said. "They put on a fun after party that night too."

Maddie Dooher, of Osseo, summed up Family Force 5's performance by using the band's favorite word - "cray."

"We were up at the front during their show," Dooher said. "There were just so many bodies all around me. You could just see the band's energy and passion ripple through the whole crowd. Everyone was so into it."

Jess Jactus, of Osseo, said she loves watching bands who clearly love what they're doing, like Family Force 5.

"Their whole show is just very high energy," she said. "You can tell they love it."

Emily Miller, of Norwood Young America, said she also enjoyed Silverline, a Christian contemporary-rock-pop band from Brainerd, who played the Main Stage Friday morning.

"Their lead singer is hilarious," Miller said. "They're a band we've gotten to know pretty well just from seeing them perform so many times."

Another band Miller, Johnson and their friend Gina Hamilton, of Eden Prairie, enjoyed was Christian alternative rock band Remedy Drive, who played the Fringe Stage on Thursday afternoon. The band, that is currently based out of Nashville, Tenn., started in Lincoln, Neb., and got their start playing all over the region.

"We've seen them so many times," Hamilton said. "We've also gotten to know them pretty well, so it's always fun to see them."

One of the artists everyone was waiting to see late Friday afternoon was tobyMac, a Franklin, Tenn., based Christian hip hop-pop artist. Sonshiners made sure to stake out their spots early in the day for tobyMac's headlining show Friday night.

"I've been looking forward to him since we found out the lineup," Hamilton said. "He always puts on such a great show."

Friday was the first day Allie and Rachel Vohs, of Chaska, had been at Sonshine, but the sisters had claimed their spots long before tobyMac hit the stage.

"He just puts on awesome concerts every time," Rachel Vohs said.

Jactus and her friend Jacob Ballanchor, of Brooklyn Park, were also eagerly waiting for tobyMac to hit the stage.

"His whole show is very high energy," Ballanchor said. "His Diverse City band is so cool, and it's just all about diverse cultures. He pours himself into up and coming artists, like Shonlock, which is awesome. It's also interesting to see the evolution of his music, from, say, 10 years ago, to now."

The Vohs sisters, Johnson and Miller are all looking forward to Christian rock band Skillet's performance, which will wrap up the festival tonight.

"They're such an awesome band," Rachel Vohs, said. "They are definitely the best Christian rock band out there."

Miller said the combination of the Memphis, Tenn., based band's music and light show are why she is so excited to see them.

"They have the best fire and light show I've ever seen," Johnson said.

Sonshine Music Festival wraps up today, with Skillet playing the headlining spot on Main Stage.