Church Will Hold 1st Annual FlandersFest

by Elsie Walker

From blue grass to pop, music will fill the air at FlandersFest.  Set to be held on Sat. June 15th from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., at the field of the United Presbyterian Church, Flanders, this rain or shine event will feature music, food, and vendors. As for admission, the church is asking for a $5 donation per person (which will go towards paying the bands performing) or a non-perishable item (peanut butter, jelly, cereal, tuna, canned vegetables, soup, etc.) for its Deacon’s Food Pantry, which helps support local families in need. While the church will provide chairs, people are welcomed to bring blankets to set down on the lawn and just enjoy the music.  The church is located at 58 Drakesdale Road in Flanders

The church’s pastor, the Rev. Rick Oppelt, noted that this is the first time for the event, and then shared how the idea for it came to be.  “Since we have a wonderful large backyard, we have had some conversations in the past few years about planning such an event. Contact with the local bluegrass group, Sonrise Mountain Revival, who played at last year’s Apple Festival, spurred us on to give it a shot,” he said.

In addition to Sonrise Mountain Revival, those performing include Kate and Paul, Atlanta Café Band, Newsong (house band of Presbyterian Church), Blame Doors (pop music) and others.

Kate and Paul are a song writing duo whose music, their website explains, “spans progressive blue-rock, folk-rock, country, and world-beat genres”; they have performed at a variety of venues. More information on their music can be found at Kate Sobolewski, the Kate of “Kate and Paul”, shared that her singing partner, Paul (Sobolewski) will also “be performing in The Atlanta Cafe Band at the festival, with Charlie Ohlweiler on lead vocal and guitar, Wallace Wrede on bass, and Bob Vnencak on drums.”  The band’s website,, explains that “The Atlanta Café Band based in Stillwater, consists of five seasoned players of the blues/southern/country rock scene.”

Sonrise Mountain Revival’s website, notes that their music is “American musical forms of bluegrass, folk, Gospel and jazz in a unique presentation of traditional and new bluegrass songs, as well as favorite hymns and secular song arrangements.”  It is made up of Gisella Maldonado (fiddle), Dick Malmstrom (banjo), Rich Ferguson (mandolin), Jeff Holcomb and Mark Kelly (guitar), Tal Tanis (bass) and vocalists Megan Carlson, Lee Watts, and Greg Gaffney.

Oppelt noted that the church’s house band plays mostly contemporary Christian music, but at FlandersFest will be playing a wider variety of music. Besides the pastor, band members are Bob Kociencki, Ron Ernst, Sara McHugh and Jeff Bouvier.  

Church member Kathy Banfe, of Flanders, shared that besides the music, there will be things to purchase. About 10 vendors will be on hand selling a variety of goods: clothing, personal care, and foodie items.  Food trucks will be on hand selling refreshments. 

Also, Banfe explained that the music festival is “an outreach to the community, to bring them to our church, and introduce ourselves to our neighbors.”  She added, “we are a friendly, welcoming congregation; we offer a church home to all.”

For more information on FlandersFest, call the church at (973) 584-8195.

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