CityFest East Texas wrapped up over a week of events with concerts, families activities and Gospel presentations this weekend and appeared to set a record in the process.
Approximately 10,000 people attended each day of the festival, Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, Tyler Mayor Martin Heines told the crowd, “This is the largest crowd we’ve ever had in the square downtown.”
“The greatest surprise was just the crowd size,” Festival Director Duffy Johnson said. “We’re really pleased that it exceeded our expectations — for all of East Texas to show up on the square here in downtown Tyler.”
When asked about the difference between Saturday and Sundays events, Johnson responded jokingly, “Well, it was a lot hotter today (Sunday), and the power stayed on.” Johnson was referring to the power outage during Christian artist Ryan Stevenson’s Saturday performance. He continued saying, “It’s really just the artist lineup that’s different.”
Sunday’s lineup of artists included performances by Christian Latina artist Marisol Park, Christian artist Pat Barrett, country music star Neal McCoy and hip-hop artist Lecrae.
Saturday featured musical artists Blanca, Stevenson and Newsboys United.
CityFest leadership estimates 1,000 of the attendees came to believe in Jesus Christ and his message, with more unaccounted for from the last night of the event.
Andrew Palau took the stage Sunday night and shared a story about a plane crash he experienced in 2009. That experience led him to consider eternity more seriously.
“It showed me the value and brevity of life,” Palau said. “God told me, ‘You shouldn’t waste another moment, or another day.’ The one thing that God doesn’t promise is tomorrow.”
Now that the CityFest events are over, churches in East Texas have teamed up to keep the spirit of CityFest alive with CityServe: a partnership that addresses social and spiritual needs, such homelessness, racial reconciliation, sexual exploitation and abuse, within the community.
“We have events, we have forums, and we’re actually taking action on these things,” Johnson said. “One of the ongoing aspects is that we’re coming back to the town to continue the Gospel movement — CityGospel is what we call it — where we’re still going to pray together, we’re still going to serve together, and work together as the church community here in East Texas.”
But for now, CityFest is looking forward to what’s next.
“In 2020, we’re going to be in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Brevard County, Florida,” Johnson said. “We always go where we have an invitation from the local churches. There were over 100 churches at the initial invitation for Tyler.”