I think by now most people in the Calgary area have heard the news that country music legend Reba McEntire will be headlining the No Greater Love Musicfest this year. This is exciting news for Christian and country music fans alike.
This year’s family friendly festival will run from August 12 – 14 at Stoney Nakoda Nation, 40 minutes west of Calgary. Tickets are available for purchase online at nogreaterlove.ca (There will be NO ticket sales or parking available at the gate so be sure to buy yours ahead of time.)
No Greater Love is quickly becoming a jewel in our Southern Alberta Festival scene with a terrific lineup that includes; For King and Country, Rapture Rukus, We Are Messengers, Okama, Jamie Grace, and many more over the weekend event.
Recently, I had the opportunity to connect with No Greater Love’s Executive Producer, Karri Ward, about the event, from its humble beginnings to what folks can expect for the weekend. Her passion for the project is clear and can’t help but spread itself through the entire event.
My family is looking forward to it. Hope to see many of you there!
Q. After a successful first year, the No Greater Love Musicfest is coming back for what looks to be an even stronger second edition, attracting some big name entertainers including country music legend Reba McEntire. What is it, do you think, that has made this such a strong event at a time when Alberta’s economy isn’t at its best?
A. No Greater Love has always been about Unity and a sense of community. A place where people come and their spirits are lifted, not just because of the music but because of the atmosphere that is created at the festival. When times are tough most people look for spiritual inspiration or a safe landing place where they feel hope. We think No Greater Love gives this simply because of what the festival is. A place to Share the Love.
Q. A festival of this magnitude takes months and years of planning. Where did the original idea come from to hold No Greater Love in this idyllic place? What has been the main driving force behind it?
A. NGL came from a vision I had in 2002. Life and years brought not only great lessons it allowed God to move and bring the right people around the table to ensure this vision would come to fruition. LOL there were many times I called this the Noah project. It’s massive and it’s in some ways trail blazing stepping outside the box of how traditional Christian music events have been done. No Greater Love became the mission for myself and another woman entrepreneur my co-producer Tammy Love. As a team we are not only servants we bring an accumulative bank of skill sets that at some point God said, OK I have blessed the both of you with great learning now you are coming to work for me.
The vision and the place where NGL is held became synonymous in the mission. There was this space that had been created within our faith communities at large that seemed to be focusing on divisions instead of celebrating commonalities. What a great world it would be if we could all come together to celebrate what each of us know as our spiritual relationship with God without politics, or challenges of the walls that come when we as human souls decide that our denominational way to worship is the best way. As an example, if you go to an Evangelical church you will see people worshipping one way. If you go to a Catholic or Anglican or Lutheran, United etc etc, you will see people worshipping in other ways. We have differences in our choice of worship however we are all fundamentally worshipping the same God based on Christian principles. As Christians, we are better together than separated. We create better spaces on earth when we join together in our beliefs of loving God, loving one another and being our brother’s keeper.
No Greater Love is about creating that space once a year where we all come together and connect realizing our commonalities through music the universal healer. This includes First Nations. We have generations of a paradigm of First Nations people and their culture that when you really begin to learn is not totally correct in terms of the negativity. With them offering to bring No Greater Love onto their land this was a huge blessing that we believe had divine intervention to enlarge the blueprint of reconciliation of differences and healing. This land is sacred in of itself when one experiences it. It’s a masterpiece of creation and simply breathtaking.
Q. Your event is very family focused from the music to the Kid’s Kingdom as well as the First Nations, Urban, and Global Villages. Has this been something the organizers planned from the beginning? How important is it to your group to bring the message of His love to our young people through these activities?
Yes this was always the goal. We wanted to create an all-inclusive space, build a village as such from a bare field with many fun and interesting elements so that people could come and have a full balanced experience. NGL is not just a music festival it’s a well-rounded spiritual experience. As humans, we love what we live.
At NGL families and young people can move freely around the grounds to take in various activities. Parents have an opportunity to enjoy the music, their kids to have fun things to do. It becomes a place of enjoyment simply through the experience. In the global village people can interact with individuals who are going out into the world at large and doing some pretty incredible things enabling a great opportunity to see what’s being accomplished through kindness and a motivation to make the world a better place. It’s an opportunity through interaction for what I like to refer to as “seeds of greatness” being planted as people experience these things. Perhaps a young person will be encouraged to do great things for the world and others by a simple interaction that happens at NGL. That seed will be planted and grow to great things.
Q. A musicfest needs a lot of hands to be a success and No Greater Love is no different I’m sure. You must have a terrific crew of volunteers already but what message would you have for folks who want to get involved? Is there still time to help this year?
A. What a great question! No Greater Love is community and that means a lot of hands coming together. The first year we ran the entire festival with 50 volunteers, hired production crew and Tammy and I. LOL it was an experience and I don’t think I slept for days. It was living the saying. “There but for the Grace of God go I”. This year we are topping 190 volunteers and there is always room for more. No Greater Love is a big event. We are Canada’s Largest Faith Festival, the largest in the entire country, right here in our back yard. We want to show Canada and our international visitors that our amazing team of volunteers know how to do it up right. The volunteer portal will close in a week however if there are people who want a life experience like no other we invite them to go to our website nogreaterlove.ca. Hit the get involved tab and volunteer. Lots of info and an application is there to be filled out and submitted.
Q. My ticket says No Greater Love will go on rain or shine. Considering Southern Alberta weather, what tips or advice do you have for families who will be attending for the first time? What type of facilities can they expect to find?
A. We always tell people to come prepared. Hats, sunscreen, bug spray, and one of those great rain ponchos from the dollar store. Good footwear as we are in a field and although landscaped, gophers still reside! Folding lawn chairs are great, kids small shade igloos are fine too. Umbrellas are not allowed due to Insurance as they are classified as a possible weapon….who knew??
There will be a bag security check upon entry. We ask people to be patient. It’s for everyone’s safety. There is no food allowed onto the field. This is both a security and Insurance safety requirement. In perspective, no picnic lunches. Small zip lock bags of snacks are OK. On the field, there will be porta potties, hand washing stations, a food truck village with a tented eating area, an artist’s alley of artisans selling festival goodies, bank machines, water stations to refill water bottles, one very large stage with screens for easy viewing. A global village, kids Kingdom, a teen skate board park, a unity teepee where people will be able to paint their mark on the teepee, a first Nations Cultural tent to learn about the Stoney Nakoda, and a few more surprises. A great reminder that all sales are online only. NO gate sales and all vehicles not camping must have a parking pass.
Q. I’ve heard that ticket sales are going well so I’m wondering if there are still camping spots left for the weekend. What about weekend and single day passes? Parking?
A. Ticket sales are going very well. We have limited camping left and I suspect this is because of the landscape and wanting the full festival experience complete with community firepits. This year we also have movie in the park coming in for our campers on Friday night as well as a small stage for an open mic fun three hours prior to the movie. I do highly suggest people if they are wanting to camp grab those passes now, especially after we have announced Reba McEntire as our Saturday night headliner.
We also have some exciting news we announced on Friday. We have been getting a lot of emails about ticket prices from those people that truly want to attend but just can’t afford it. We do not want anyone to miss out so we went to work and through the generosity of a sponsor weekend passes in these last weeks will go for the same price as season one 99.00 for a week end pass! We are pretty excited to share that news. And because we know some people have been awesome in supporting NGL on season two and three ticket prices we will be sending them a treat to say thank you and ensure they feel included in the bonus. As well evening passes are available for $60.00 as we know not all people can come for a full day or weekend. Kids 12 and under free.
Q. Finally, is there anything else you would like to share with my readers about No Greater Love?
No Greater Love is one of those events you need to experience and then you will want to continue to experience it year after year because it simply engages the soul. The music is something for everyone, bluegrass, country, hip hop, pop, rap, rock. I think people will be surprised that the sound is familiar in those genres, however the lyrics are simply faith filled, positive and uplifting. We challenge all faithful to come out and experience the festival once and then they will know this once a year creation of space bringing faith communities together is well worth the time and the ticket for two days of soothing one’s soul.