The first-ever Hope Arising Festival will take place at Bing Crosby Stadium in Front Royal from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday with the goal of bringing awareness to community programs and services.

Events include music and activities from more than 14 organizations. Booths will provide information to individuals and families dealing with food insecurity, homelessness, domestic violence, addiction and more.

Local churches and organizations will help people access community support and resources.

The festival is free and family-friendly. Guests will get a meal ticket for a free hotdog and water. Food vendors will also be on-site, and giveaways will happen throughout the day.

Organizers Michelle Matthiae and Laura Morton launched the festival to inspire hope around the community, particularly following more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were inspired by a movement happening around America,” Matthiae said.

They had heard about an individual traveling around to various towns delivering hope, but when they couldn’t get a hold of him to come to Front Royal, they decided to start their own event.

“It turned into a festival,” Matthiae said. “We really wanted to focus on the community and give back.”

Both Front Royal residents said they’ve relied on community programs over the years, and they wanted to spread the word for others who could benefit from what the community has to offer.

“We realized we all needed hope right now,” Matthiae said.

“A lot of it is giving back,” Morton said. “People helped us. There was a lot we didn’t know about.”

The schedule includes a Front Royal Crossfit obstacle course on Saturday, a Paw Patrol event from 1 to 3 p.m. both days, and all-day balloons, magic and face painting by Kevin Owens both days.

A Dunk the Sheriff tank will take place at 2:30 p.m., with Saturday’s participants including Warren County Supervisor Cheryl Cullers, and Sunday’s including Police Chief Kahle Magalis and Councilperson Letasha Thompson.

Sunday’s schedule also offers a petting zoo with pony rides and a visit with a camel.

Music starts at 11:15 a.m. Saturday with Deacon Rafael Goldsmith from St. John the Baptist Parish in Front Royal and Laine Clark.

Grace Morrison goes on at 12:05 p.m., plus 1990s-style Christian rap artist Mynista at 1:30 p.m. and Stars Burn Down at 4 p.m.

At 2:30 p.m., Ca de Gloria will perform on Stage 1 and Steve Foster and Amazing Grace on Stage 2.

Saturday giveaways will be at noon, 1 p.m., 2:20 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. A teen challenge will take place at 1:05 p.m.

On Sunday, a church without walls service with Steve Foster will take place at 11 a.m.

Band of Brothers will perform at 12:30 p.m. and Kevin Owens will offer a magic show at 2 p.m.

Dancers from Warrenton dance studio Kristin Butke Irish Dance have confirmed for 2:30 p.m., and Travis Dupri will perform Christian hip hop at 3 p.m.

Giveaways will be at 12:15 p.m. and 1:40 p.m.

Picture opportunities for this year’s high school graduates include the “Better With Age” car show with motorcycles and a balloon archway,

A festival statement says the weekend’s goal is “to make a lasting beneficial impact on our community [and] surrounding communities and combat the negative effects of the events of 2020.”

Some participating organizations are the Department of Social Services, Phoenix Project, Warren Coalition, Teen Challenge, Women’s Resource Center, Habitat for Humanity and Samuels Public Library as well as some local churches and others.

Primary sponsors are Jim and Valerie Clark of Exit Premier Realty on Main Street and Pat Moore with Legal Shield.

Sound engineer Philip Benner, with Maple Door Productions, has donated his time and equipment for all the musical performances.

For a list of other sponsors, go to

Since starting the effort, Matthiae said she’s been amazed at how everything has come together and needs have been answered.

“It has been all God,” she said.

“Every need, we say the need out loud and it comes to us in an email or a phone call. My faith has grown tremendously just doing this. … If no one comes, I know that our lives have been radically changed,” she said.

“It’s been an amazing adventure,” Morton agreed.

“That’s the hope that we’re trying to pass on to people. We’ve needed help, and then God shows up.”

The festival could still use another riser stage. To contribute, email,

For more information, visit or

Contact Josette Keelor at