Forest Festival ends on a high note

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - After a successful 23 years, no certain hurricane named Ike was going to make the 24th a drag.

"Because of the economy and hurricane, we've been really surprised and gratified that people have put the extension cords down and put their problems aside to come out and have a good time," says Judge Billy Ball, who is on the Festival Committee.

And have a good time they did.  As of Saturday night, they were only $4,000 away from reaching last year's amount.

"We think we've had a pretty good turn out this year.  We haven't got the final numbers yet, but in checking last night, we were getting close to what we had last year. We are happy," says Judge Ball.

And for the last day's performance, a Christian rock group of local teens brought down the house.

But it took years just to decide what to call themselves.

"After years of debate, we started off with one name and then we became Salvation's Army. That was plagiarism, so they told us we had to change it. We liked the army thing, so we changed it to The Army 741," says Jonathon Hughes, who plays keyboard and Sings.

That's Jonathan, Joey, Laura, Hannah, Jim, Travis and Samantha, seven kids for one god.  But their message doesn't end with their name.

"Any musician's dream is to be out and performing, but our biggest goal is to win people for God.  That is every Christian's goal. And we are a Christian before a musician," says Hughes.

And Judge Billy Ball says it was a great way to end a great day.

"We are going to have a little post-meeting, you can bet on that.  And in January we'll start planning for the next coming year," says Judge Ball.

About 300 volunteers and committee members made this year's festival a success.