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River Oak Grace Prepares For Saturday Music Festival
Set to headline this Saturday, Aug. 10 the popular Christian band Unspoken will round out the five artists set to play for River Oak Grace’s first attempt at a music festival. Tickets may be purchased in advance at or by calling (209) 847-9428. Photo Contributed
Caitie Hurst
Caitie Hurst

A lot of music has been played in the amphitheater of River Oak Grace Church. This Saturday, Aug. 10 Senior Pastor Korey Buchanek and his team are taking it “next level” as they take the annual concert series from several Fridays throughout summer to a one day festival with well-known Christian pop artists Unspoken as the headliner.

River Oak Grace, at 7712 Rodden Road, Oakdale will also have other artists on stage prior to the headlining group. Set to perform are: He Must Increase, Caitie Hurst, Chris August and Micah Tyler. Gates open at 2 p.m. and show starts at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 through Friday, Aug. 9 and $25 at the gate. Children 5 and under are free. Parking is free. For tickets in advance visit

As irony might have it, lyrics from the popular Unspoken song “Start a Fire,” adequately sum up the goal of Buchanek and his crew for moving the series to a one day event. The lyrics, “You only need a spark to start a whole blaze. It only takes a little faith. Let it start right here in this city. So these old walls will never be the same,” are precisely what the ROG team is trying to do.

“Much of it was birthed out of the purpose of the concerts,” Buchanek said of the change to one day. “The purpose is really to gather churches and the people for a day to where … again we can bring life and unity and really just strength to believers.”

The Senior Pastor said the event is not about building membership to the hosting church, but rather to bring in members from all churches throughout Northern California to share in fellowship, good music and good family entertainment.

“How do we use this to build the kingdom?” he noted of his thoughts on using the vast amphitheater space. Buchanek shared, he and his team began recognizing that the original set Friday series of past summers, limited those who could attend. Hosting as a weekly event also took more from the church team by way of time and energy.

“Our desire, instead of doing multiple Friday nights, why not do something that’s worth a drive to Oakdale,” he said. “A longer event and also for us, doing multiple shows a year, it’s a big deal.

“It makes more sense to try an afternoon/evening event,” he continued.

“It’s not only for believers,” long term staff member Kate Davidson said. “This is such a great avenue for church people to bring others outside of church to hear good music and testimony. These performers put it all out there.”

“So many folks that have a perspective of church,” Buchanek said. “It’s interesting when they get in this environment and they start to look around and say this is church music? This isn’t what I thought it was going to be.”

According to the duo, the talent was secured in December and the planning simply took off from there. Radio spots, banners and church marquee have promoted the event for the past several months.

“Doing this Saturday, the jury’s out. We don’t really know what to expect,” the pastor said. “I hope that people realize, this is six hours of music. There’s a good mix of different artists, that people can be drawn to.”

Attendees are welcome to come and go as they like. Low profile beach chairs are encouraged, as well as blankets. Persons with high back camp chairs will be repositioned to the back of the venue to allow increased visibility for the audience. With a start time of 3 p.m. the artists will take to the stage for set periods of time with Unspoken set to perform last. Anticipated end time is 9 p.m.

Food trucks, beverage sales and Bloomingcamp’s Bake shop will all be in attendance to offer convenience for visitors to grab a bite to eat. Alcohol is not permitted at the venue.

“No alcohol. No pets,” Buchanek said. “The no pets, is just the sheer amount of people in that confined space just doesn’t work well. We do no alcohol in the attempt to make it family friendly.”

New to the festival idea the team shared they truly don’t know what to expect by way of numbers in attendance, parking, as well as the comings and goings of the audience. Yet, they are excited by the idea of how big it can be, as well as the community it can foster through such an event.

“I enjoy seeing people connect with other people,” the Senior Pastor stated. “Just seeing people connecting for the first time for a spiritual purpose. Having people inquire about the why. If they’ve never checked it out, just give it one shot. I genuinely believe, they will not be disappointed.”