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Christian festival continues at AMS through Sunday

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Sandy Shapiro, 68, organized his display of Christian T-shirts under an Atlanta Motor Speedway tent Friday afternoon in anticipation of the crowds to come.

Shapiro said he traveled all the way from Phoenix, Ariz., to the Tailgate Family Festival at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, because he wants to reach people for Jesus Christ, in his own way.

"We go where the Lord leads us, and I really feel like He led us this way," Shapiro said.

Shapiro, who has sold the T-shirts for the last 22 years, is one of a number of vendors participating in the free, three-day festival, which began Friday. It is being presented by the Steve Wingfield Evangelistic Association.

Wingfield, an author and lecturer at the Billy Graham Institute for Young Evangelists, has put together 50 such festivals over the last 20 years, with an average attendance of about 25,000 people.

Wingfield, in addition to being an evangelist and the host of the festival, also is a humanitarian. After organizing a free festival for survivors of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he arranged for them to receive $1 million in aid.

Keith Deyo, one of the coordinators for the festival, said the thrust of the festival is non-denominational.

"Our goal is to unite the local churches to present the event to the community," Deyo said.

The idea to bring the festival to AMS originated 18 months ago when a local church contacted the association.

Saturday, the festival will feature Youth Day, with performances by ventriloquist Lesha Campbell, Untitled Skateboards and the Power Team, and a group of professional strongmen with a Christian focus.

The festival also will feature several music artists, ranging from the Christian rap group, Grits, to the Christian alternative group, Skillet.

Bluegrass, Hispanic and southern gospel artists also will perform throughout the weekend. Country band Diamond Rio will appear in concert Sunday night.

Wingfield will close out each night's activities with a message.

- On the Net: www.stevewingfield.org