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Lifest Music City: Christian music festival returns to Nashville area for second year

The Tennessean (Nashville) logo The Tennessean (Nashville) 7/28/2022 Dave Paulson, Nashville Tennessean
performs during the Exit 111 Rock Festival at Great Stage Park Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Manchester, Tenn. © Helen Comer / Tennessean.com performs during the Exit 111 Rock Festival at Great Stage Park Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Manchester, Tenn.

In the 1970s, Johnny Cash took ownership of a 107-acre property in Bon Aqua, Tennessee, some 40 miles southwest of Nashville. 

The country legend called it his Hideaway Farm — a quiet place where he could get away from Music City and "live the life of a country boy," as he wrote in his autobiography.

This weekend, however, Cash's former property will be a little less quiet. For the second consecutive year, Christian music festival Lifest Music City will bring thousands of fans to Hideaway Farm for three days of music from Skillet, Casting Crowns, Zach Bryan, Steven Curtis Chapman and Mac Powell, among dozens of performers and speakers.

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The live music continues nearly to midnight each evening, and attendees staying for the full event are welcome to purchase a campsite and make the farm their "hideaway" for a few days, too. 

Sound like a solid weekend? Here's what you need to know about Lifest's return to Middle Tennessee. 

The festival's Midwestern roots

Since 1999, the original Lifest has been held in Oshkosh, Wis., growing from 6,000 attendees for year one to roughly 30,000 in 2022. It expanded to Nashville last year, bringing out roughly 4,000 per day to see Matthew West, Lecrae, Michael W. Smith and more. 

"We get asked a lot to start festivals in different areas, and to partner with existing festivals all over the country," says festival director John Dougherty. "And we've always kind of shied away from it — until we came out to Nashville."

The lineup

Nashville's notably warmer than Oshkosh in the thick of summer — Dougherty says temperatures reached 105 during last year's inaugural event — but the location still has a distinct advantage, as many of this year's performers live and/or base their business here.

That includes Chapman, Cain and Nashville native Riley Clemmons. The lineup also features one act that also performed at last year's Lifest Music City — hard rockers Skillet, whose members are split between Nashville and Wisconsin, coincidentally. 

'A Party with a Purpose'

Lifest is presented by Bob Lenz's Life Promotions, a non-profit focused on school programs and outreach events. Dougherty says a primary reason for their expansion into Nashville is to raise awareness for their school programs, which focus on bullying and suicide prevention.

"We've started to do what we do in Oshkosh, and Tennessee seems like a really good fit for us from that mission and vision of our organization."

Evenings end around the 'Ring of Fire'

In Oshkosh, Lifest sets up roughly 3,000 campsites for its attendees. In Nashville last year, there were just over 100 — due to high temps, no doubt, but also the event's close proximity to civilization. 

Still, everyone who passes through the gates gets a bit of the campgrounds experience. Each night ends with a bonfire worship, for guests gathered by Cash's old barn as they wait for parking shuttles. 

"You could call it a Ring of Fire," Dougherty jokes. "You kind of lose that massive rush that you (typically) have in a concert where everyone gets in their car and waits in traffic forever. It's that slow wind-down at the end of the night."

Beyond the music

More than a dozen speakers are set to take Lifest stages over the weekend, including a keynote from longtime public school speaker Reggie Dabbs. There's also a "Kidzone" with live children's music and activities (Kids 7 and under are admitted free, while ages 8-15 have a discounted ticket price). Other activities offered include archery, inflatable games and a scavenger hunt.

If you go

Lifest takes place July 28-30 at Hideaway Farm (9347 Old Highway 46) in Lyles, Tenn. Full event passes are $78 ($36 for ages 8-15), and single-day tickets are $36 ($18 for ages 8-15). For more information, visit lifest.com

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Lifest Music City: Christian music festival returns to Nashville area for second year

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