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My Rock Festival returns to Ketchikan this Saturday
Nashville-based indie duo Water Within performs on June 30, 2018, during My Rock Festival at Berth 4. The band features singer Mary Pat Smissen and guitarist Whitney Walker. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

Daily News Staff Writer

The second “My Rock Festival” will be held Saturday on Berth 4 downtown, featuring local and visiting musicians and guest speakers, as well as L-Bow the clown, food vendors and even a bouncy house and face painting.

Event Coordinator Sharli Arntzen spoke recently, while dodging pouring rain under the shelter at Berth 4, about how she first got the idea for the event and got it rolling.

“Probably in about 2012, I was sitting in church and Tony Yeisley was there and he was just wailing on the guitar,” she said. She explained, “I have no musical skills, but I can appreciate good music. I was so moved, and thought: 'Why can't Ketchikan experience this?”

She said she then realized there really wasn't a platform for people to offer an outdoor music concert. In her memory of growing up in Ketchikan, she said it seemed that there were more outdoor community events, especially near or on the July 4 holiday.

“I just got this picture in my mind of Ketchikan just cheering and us having this massive concert, praising and worshipping the Lord,” she said.

She quickly added, however, that the My Rock Festival is not intended to be a religious festival.

“It's that movement,” she said. “It's that spirit of joy and appreciation and community — and so that's what we're hoping to bring.”

Her immediate enthusiasm for organizing the event, in the beginning, was stalled by the arrival of a new baby, but she didn't lose enthusiasm for the project.

The next year, she said she began to reach out to people who would be able to help to create the festival she envisioned.

“I didn't know what it would turn out to be,” she said. “I didn't know if anyone would support it. I didn't know if anyone would show up. I just kept moving forward along the stepping stones — it was like God just put a stepping stone and I had no idea — I couldn't see in front of it, and I would just move to that spot.”

She finally was able to reach people who had experience with organizing such events, and her vision began to take form.

Another stepping stone she had to negotiate was simply finding the right location at which to hold the event.  She first investigated Walker Field on Schoenbar Road, but it didn't seem quite right.

Then, as she was driving toward the Schoenbar Road bypass, she got a call from her friend, South Tongass Alliance Church worship leader Sarah Harney.

“Hey, I got an idea,” Arntzen said Harney announced. “I think we should do it at berth 4.”

Just then, Arntzen said she crested the top of the steep bypass hill.

“It was like the heavens opened,” she said, grinning. “I'm coming down the hill and the sun was shining on Berth 4, and I'm like — 'This is unreal, this is totally unreal.”

She decided to focus on attaining that site for the festival, although she said many people were skeptical that she'd succeed.

Arntzen said it wasn't a problem though, as the people who own the property through Survey Point Holdings, were “amazing.”

Listed in program information, at myrockfestival.com, are many local supporters including Cape Fox Lodge, Optimum Fitness, Ward Cove Group and South Tongass Alliance Church.

Arntzen said that volunteers from several area churches also are helping to organize the festival, with tasks ranging from building the stage, to setting up perimeter fencing, to working at clean-up tasks.

The festival is a nonprofit project, Arntzen emphasized, and the profits gleaned from ticket sales will be spent entirely on event costs.

Artists slated for this year's event include the “My Rock Band 2.0,” which is a group featuring local musicians from five area churches: Harney, Kyle Quinn, Tiffany Pickrell, Nick Mitchell and Yeisley.

Visiting musicians include the Native American group “Broken Walls,” which performs with drums, flutes, storytelling and dance; the Canadian Juno-award winning duo LOVECOLLIDE; hit-singles-producing Jason Gray; and the Grammy-nominated Rhett Walker Band.

There also will be speakers featured, including California-based Melody Green, of “Last Days Ministries” and Ketchikan First Assembly of God pastor Tyler McNeill. Arntzen said that Green will be visiting town with people that also will participate in various ministries around town, including at the Ketchikan Correctional Center.

Wenatchee, Washington based L-Bow the clown also will perform at the festival. His acts feature fire breathing, eating and blowing; juggling, unicycling, balloon-animal making and face painting.

There also will be 11 vendors at the event offering treats such as Filipino dishes, hot dogs, tacos and Red Bull spritzers. There also will be vendors selling jewelry and other merchandise, Arntzen said.

Arntzen said she feels the event will be worth the ticket price for attendees for many reasons.

“We've never had a music festival,” she said. “To do something like this outdoors is a little bit crazy in our environment.”

She said the festival also will be top-quality, with rented sound equipment from Seattle and excellent sound engineers to run it. To top it off, the food to be offered from vendors, as well as the opportunity to meet widely known musicians and speakers, will be a unique opportunity.

“This isn't about church,” Arntzen said of the My Rock Festival. “This is just about the people coming together and having a good day and remembering that we do have a higher power, a bigger creator and seeing what he has in store for us on Saturday.”

The My Rock Festival is scheduled to start at noon Saturday, June 15, on Berth 4, with the last band to perform at 8 p.m.

For more information about the festival, visit myrockfestival.com, or search for the event on Facebook. Event staff also can be reached at myrock@ktn.life.com.