Writer: Nicole Sipe
The Gaither Family Resources Fall Festival is as much a celebration of gospel music and family as it is a celebration of the small town of Alexandria, Indiana, where Bill and Gloria Gaither built their home 54 years ago. The weekend-long festival includes live entertainment and tours of the Gaither Recording Studio, opportunities to dine with the Gaithers and gospel concerts at a nearby church in Anderson.
“Our grounds will be full of great food, concerts everywhere and all kinds of friends to meet from every state and several countries,” says Gloria Gaither. “We will turn our bus barn — where we keep our tour buses — into a theater, our big shipping warehouse into a giant food space and our big grassy field into a home for two huge tents where there will be other concerts and all kinds of craftsmen and artists. We will give tours of our little town and tell about the places both Bill and I have loved through the years.”
Music has always been an important part of the Gaithers’ lives. From the start of their marriage, they wrote, sang, recorded and marketed their own music, first as the Bill Gaither Trio for more than 20 years, then as the Gaither Vocal Band for another two decades. After 40 years of making music together, plus two Grammy Awards and more than a dozen Dove Awards to their name, the couple considered winding down their career in the music business. However, life had other plans for them.
“The Gaither Vocal Band decided to make a tribute album to the groups and singers that enchanted them when they were growing up, inviting several of these aging heroes to join them in the studio to sing an old Gospel favorite by Stuart Hamblin, ‘Where Could I Go But to the Lord?’” Gaither says. “Little did they or we know, what began as a three-minute DJ cut for television would spawn a phenomenon called the Gaither Homecoming video series. Now, 300, 90-minute videos later, people come to our town to see where all this started.”
The idea for the fall festival sprang from the Gaithers’ desire to reunite each year with the friends they have made that stop in their town to visit Gaither Recording Studio, shop at the Gaither Family Resources retail store and eat at their restaurant, Pure and Simple.
“About 10 years ago, we decided to have a ‘homecoming’ and invited our friends from all over the world to come visit our little town of Alexandria,” Gaither says. “We wanted to fill our campus with music, Midwest artists and craftsmen and all kinds of fun activities and food that reflect this great heartland we call the ‘breadbasket of the world.’ And what better time to bring people who love our music than harvest time, when the apples are ripe and the grains are being gathered from the field?”
With their festival, the Gaithers hope to meet, share a meal and enjoy great music and art with other people who enjoy gospel music and small-town Midwestern living.
“We want people to experience our small town where Bill was born and where we have raised our family,” Gaither says. “We want visitors to feel as if they are family and that this Midwest heartland is way more than a ‘fly-over zone.’ It’s a place where people still take care of each other and go the extra mile when there is a need. We want people to know that music about the God who is the center of our lives still brings encouragement and gives perspective when times are hard and keeps us singing when life is good.”
The Gaither Family Resources Fall Festival takes place September 21-22. For more information and to purchase tickets to the festival, visit gaither.com/news/gaither-fall-fest-2018-hometown-celebration.