Weather Forecast


Sonshine Festival opens Wednesday in Willmar, set-up already underway

Josh Clutter, left, lead guitarist with the Minnesota band Love Out Loud and front man Dillon Jones perform on the main stage at the 2013 Sonshine Festival in Willmar. (Tribune file photo by Ron Adams)

By Kyle Rozendaal

WILLMAR — Sonshine is fast approaching and the annual Christian music festival again promises to supply something for everyone with big-name and local bands of all genres playing on the largest stage in Sonshine’s history, shopping, recreation, camping and food all on site.

Sonshine sold around 15,000 tickets in 2013, drawing visitors from all over the United States and Canada to the festival’s Willmar home. This year may not beat the 23,000 attendance record, but ticket sales are up from where they were last year, according to Bob Poe, the festival director for Sonshine.

“In the grand scheme of things weather is always the determining factor. Warm and sunny will always draw more people than cold, rainy and windy weather,” Poe said during a recent interview. “All we can do is wait and see what the final numbers bring.”

Wednesday through Saturday should bring amazing weather for Sonshine according to the latest forecast from the National Weather Service. Daytime high temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-70s and up to 80 on Saturday, with sunny skies for the entire festival, though a chance of rain is in the forecast for Saturday night.

More than 140 musical artists will be performing from 6 p.m. Wednesday until the last show ends around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Poe.

The main stage will host big name bands, the fringe stage will host larger bands that are not signed on a label, the debut stage will host the Sonshine Music Tournament and regional bands that have been invited to play.

The biggest changes are being made to the indoor stage located in the Blue Line Arena of the Willmar Civic Center. In previous years the indoor stage hosted the heavy metal musicians. This year there are four different activities there.

* In the morning, the indoor stage will host mellow worship services.

*  During midday it will host 27 different hip hop artists.

* The afternoon and evening hours will be filled with heavy metal and hardcore music.

*  From midnight to 1 a.m. the stage will be a dance party with electronic and modern dance music.   

Children are invited to the kids stage where there will be a variety of performing artists such as clowns, magicians and balloon artists. Children are also invited to the kids craft tent where arts and crafts activities will be available throughout the festival.

Volunteers, the Willmar Police Department, Willmar’s Public Works Department and others from the community began work on Sunday to transform the fields surrounding the Willmar Senior High School and Civic Center into Sonshine’s festival grounds.

Campers are allowed to set up campsites beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

For more information and a full schedule of events and musician show times visit