Flint Hills Praise Fest fundraises to support rehabilitating sex workers


Four years ago, Neal Wollenberg founded an event that brought Manhattan churches together to support a little girl with cancer. Local church bands came together to raise money at the small music festival, then known as Luther-palooza.

Saturday, Sept. 13 makes Luther-palooza’s fourth year, except it has been renamed Flint Hills Praise Fest. According to co-presidents, Dave Mack and Dave Romero, the event is anticipated to be even bigger than ever.

“(The Flint Hill Praise Fest) is an opportunity for the Manhattan region to worship as a community,” Mack said.

The Praise Fest may have begun small, but has since grown into a huge fundraiser that raised $15,000 over the last four years for different organizations and causes. Of these include financially supporting a young cancer patient, USD Fort Riley and Shepard’s Crossing. This year, the beneficiary is The Homestead Ministry, a nonprofit organization through Westview Community Church that provides housing and support for women leaving the sex industry.

Romero said part of the reason for the event’s tremendous growth is because of the name change.

“We picked a name that actually tells (the public) what it’s about,” Romero said.

The Flint Hills Praise Fest is a nondenominational music festival with the primary purpose of serving as a fundraiser. Before, the name Luther-palooza made it seem it like it was a Lutheran event. Since the name change, there has been more public support.

“No matter who we talk to, they’re interested,” Mack said. “Not just politely interested, but actually interested.”

According to Mack, local support is tremendous compared to last year. There is a regional reach of 150 miles, including sponsors from Wichita and other areas in Kansas.

Executive pastor and women’s ministry at Westview Community Church, Deb Kluttz, has attended this event in previous years said she has noticed its growth in the amount of support it receives.

“Anytime you’re doing anything to benefit others is awesome,” Kluttz said.

Besides the local church bands, including nationally known Cloverton, performing, there will also be a silent auction and a 5K run. This will be the first year the music festival includes a 5K run.

“(The 5K) will be an experiment,” Romero said.

While Romero predicts the run will not be too big due to it being its first year it is offered, the silent auction is expected to raise well over $2,000. Donations such as artwork, bicycles, certificates for local services and restaurants, and even more will be auctioned off to support the Homestead Ministry. According to Kluttz, this will be the biggest silent auction the music festival has ever hosted.

“(The Flint Hills Praise Fest) is churches coming together to create a family event,” Romero said.

Activities such as face painting and inflatables make the music festival an event the whole family can enjoy and help support their community.

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