Winter Jam sells out Tupelo arena

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Everything was big at this year’s Winter Jam – big balloons, a big stage, a big screen and a big crowd.
The Christian music festival sold out, as it has the last several times it has come to the BancorpSouth Arena, with about 9,500 in attendance.
The audience was treated to some of Christian music’s biggest acts, like Third Day, Newsboys, Tenth Avenue North, Newsong and Fireflight.
“I need to know if we’ve got any church people in Tupelo tonight?” Newsong lead singer Russ Lee asked the crowd, and the audience erupted with applause.
Newsboys got the audience on its feet with dance tunes like “When the Boys Light Up,” and lead singer Michael Tait wowed the crowd by jumping off of a high stage with a bungee cord.
Speaker Tony Nolan spoke about making a deal with God.
He gave a concertgoer $50 in exchange for a penny, and likened that to sinners who hold on to their petty sins instead of giving their soul to Christ.
“Whatever you’re clinging to, that’s what you’re trading your soul for,” he said. “Quit clinging to the illusion of how shiny your sins seem to be. Let it go.”
He then urged the audience to tell others about their deal with God.
“Don’t conceal it,” he said, “reveal it.”
That very message was heard loud and clear by Beckey Benton and her daughters, Tina, 9, and Nicole, 10, from Amory.
The trio, all in matching Winter Jam shirts, were enjoying their first major concert and first Winter Jam experience.
“It’s wonderful,” Beckey said. “What I love about it is that it’s all about Jesus. It’s all about God.”
Nicole said she couldn’t wait to hear Third Day, while Tina said she liked “the band with the girl” – Florida-based Christian rock band Fireflight.
But she was excited to hear Third Day, too, because she performs the band’s “Born Again” in church.
Both girls said they loved Winter Jam.
“It’s awesome,” Nicole said.
Tina agreed.
“It was wonderful.”

Contact Sheena Barnett at (662) 678-1580 or sheena.barnett@djournal.com.