In terms of weekly events, perhaps the one with the consistently highest attendance is Worship on the Waterfront (WOW) in the newly-remodeled Lynn Sherwood Waterfront Stadium in downtown Grand Haven. Thousands gather each Sunday night for a diverse schedule of Christian music artists.
"We've had a beautiful summer down on the waterfront and attendance has been amazing," said coordinator Kathleen Bobeldyk of their seasonal outreach. The setting has been enhanced: a terraced area in the rear portion of the venue has replaced the former bleacher sections. There are no on-site chairs or benches so fans bring their own seating.
The logistics of getting a large crowd into the stadium along the Grand River channel has been helped this year with "skip the line" passes. These $5 passes (available only through www.itickets.com) allow early admission to the stadium for choice of seating. This policy gets some of the crowd into the venue early (5:30pm, for a 7pm start), thinning the lines a bit for those who arrive at the usual gate opening time (6pm).
"These have been a huge success and people loved it," said Bobeldyk of the passes which are limited in number and are available on a seasonal or week-by-week basis. "These will definitely be back next year."
Including the stadium crowd plus those who watch or listen from outside the gates (and some in boats on the water) Bobeldyk estimates a typical weekly crowd size of more than 3,000.
SPREADING THE MUSICAL LOVE
The WOW coordinator has also noticed an interesting trend – the majority of the crowd appears to be people who come every week. Apparently they are attracted to the event by more than just the individual music artists. "We are building relationships with a common bond of worshiping and become closer to God through the music and testimonies of our guest artists," she noted.
Rounding out the WOW schedule are Water's Edge Worship (Aug. 18) and the traditional season-ending performer Mark Schultz (Aug. 25).
Here's a video montage from a WOW concert by Selah on July 14, 2019:
For more information visit www.worshiponthewaterfront.org
AND IN OTHER LOCATIONS...
*The Sunday evening schedule at Sandy Pines Lakeside Chapel in Dorr continues through Labor Day weekend. The Southern gospel stalwarts Ernie Hasse & Signature Sound take the chapel stage at 6pm Aug. 18. Keepers of the Faith sings the following Sunday (Aug. 25) and the popular Collingsworth Family closes the season on Sept. 1. The entrance for concerts is at 3630 26th St (south of 142nd Ave.) in Dorr. For more information visit www.sandypineschapel.com
*Maranatha Bible Conference in Muskegon, which already has hosted singers David Phelps, Sara Groves and Josh Wilson this summer, brings in the instrumental sounds of Big Band of Praise at 7pm Sat. Aug. 17. The 18-piece, West Michigan-based group does a combination of big band, swing and blues styles. The sounds of swirling keyboards will rule the historic tabernacle platform on Aug. 24 with pianist Huntley Brown. The Collingsworth Family sings on Aug. 31. Maranatha's Saturday summer concerts begin at 7pm. There is an optional dinner available before the performances, which comes with preferred concert seating (must register in advance for meal). Visit www.vacationwithpurpose.org.
*The Gospel Music Barn, long a great spot for bluegrass gospel, hosts its annual bluegrass festival on Sat. Aug. 17. The music in the "barn" (6881 64th Ave. Hudsonville) begins at 3:30pm with the Wasepi Bluegrass Gospel Singers. Luke Lenhart & Friends are also on the bill, and the headliner Fleegers are on at 7pm. The Masters Promise is scheduled for 6pm Aug 24, and Northern Edge and Michelle Westhuis on Aug. 31. Visit www.gospelmusicbarn.org.
*The Christian Reformed Conference Grounds on Lakeshore Dr. south of Grand Haven features gospel music in its air-conditioned Worship Center at 7pm Saturday evenings through the summer. The family-based Forresters perform on Aug. 17 and the award-winning Southern gospel Greater Vision on Aug. 24. The private, non-profit camp and conference facility is also hosting two concerts in the fall season: The Allen Family Sat. Sept. 14 and the area men's chorus The King's Choraliers Sat. Oct. 5. Visit www.crcg.org.