En Fuego organizers seek support for 18th annual festival

Published 3:57 pm Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Supporters of En Fuego, an annual Christian music ministry in Verbena, are rallying to gain more support and volunteerism for the 2014 event.

En Fuego, meaning “On Fire” in Spanish, was started in 1997, when founders Travis Crim and Johnny Giles saw the need for a life-changing, Christian event.

Giles said he and other event organizers strive to build a line-up of speakers and musical performers that people from every denomination can enjoy while worshiping together.

Weeks before the event, an annual dinner is held for the public, and anyone wanting to donate, volunteer or just learn more about the event is invited.

The dinner will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 24, at Clanton First United Methodist Church.

The dinner will include worship, a speaker, both silent and live auctions and a meal served at 6:30 p.m.

While it isn’t mandatory to RSVP to the dinner, First United Methodist encourages those who can let them know of their attendance beforehand to do so by calling 205-755-9077.

Giles said because En Fuego is free, they rely on donations to finance the event.

This year’s En Fuego will be held on Aug. 23, and gates will open at 11 a.m.

The free event began 18 years ago with a small concert at Verbena Baptist Church that witnessed about 300 attendees.

Last year, a massive crowd of about 17,000 people gathered on a hillside in Verbena to enjoy a day full of God-centered entertainment.

“A few years after the ministry’s start, we had to move locations to suit all of the people,” Giles said. “The performers that come are all so surprised at the turn-out we have, being seemingly in the ‘middle of nowhere.’”

The ministry’s growth is attributed to word-of-mouth and churches’ advertisement.

With no revenue from the event itself, event organizers struggle to advertise the event as they would like to.

“Fortunately, we have a lot of local support,” Giles said. “Seven or eight local churches help out tremendously, local radio stations talk about En Fuego, and flyers are distributed through church organizations. Our online website also helps us get the word out.”

A line-up of musical entertainment includes Crowder, Kari Jobe, Cloverton, OBB, Everyday Sunday, LP, Allan Scott, J.D. Anderson and All Access Worship.

Tony Nolan will be the main speaker, and founder Travis Crim will serve as the emcee.

In addition to performances, there will also be more than 15 food vendors, various church booths and band and artists’ vendors, selling T-shirts and other merchandise.

Giles said that although it is impossible to know how many people will flock to this year’s event, he expects for the attendance to continue to rise, as it has in previous years.

“Eighteen years ago, Travis and I shared a vision to do something,” Giles said. “We are overwhelmed by the progress it’s made, but we will continue to work to improve it every year.”

The staff behind the successful ministry includes more than 400 volunteers, about 100 counselors, and an abundance of generous sponsors that make the mission possible.

“We started this event because Travis witnessed a girl dedicate her life to the Lord after attending an event like this,” Giles said. “The Holy Spirit laid it on our hearts to do this.”

Last year alone, decisions made at En Fuego included 56 first-time salvations (people starting their lives with Christ), 58 re-dedications (people re-committing their lives to Christ) and four calls to ministry (people coming forward to serve).

For more information on En Fuego, visit www.enfuegoinfo.com.