The singer speaks

Joshua Vacanti belts out a song on stage at the Historic Palace Theatre on Jan. 5. (Dan Cappellazzo / contributor)

The 20th annual Salt and Light Festival is being held today through Sunday at the Solid Rock Assembly of God at 8590 Rochester Road, Gasport, and will feature a concert from “The Voice” contestant and Lockport’s very own Joshua Vacanti.

Having been celebrated yearly for 19 years before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 festivities, this event’s theme is “Hope is Here” and will feature keynote speakers Jovannie and Melisa Canales, who — after a turbulent past — now minister in Medina where Jovannie is serving as a pastor at Calvary Tabernacle.

Michelle Wolfe, an organizer for the festival, said they knew they had to step up the venue for the 20th anniversary and decided to go back to three days of entertainment.

“(We) invited Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti to kick off the festival,” Wolfe said. “(There will be) more musical guests, more speakers, more kids activities including a rock climbing wall.”

Events will include RENEE, a Christian-pop duo who will hit the stage at 7:30 p.m. today and again at 5 p.m. Saturday. Their final performance will be an acoustic concert on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Other speakers are also on the billing. Craig Udell will be bringing his story “Grace – The Undeserving Favor of God” to the stage. It’s described as a “journey about life and love of family”.

Mel’s School of Music and Theater will also be giving a special performance at 1 p.m. on Sunday and the Buffalo Adult & Teen Challenge will be running at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Billed as a festival favorite, BATC share personal stories of life and recovery.

“Their program is a credible and innovative answer to drug and alcohol epidemic in our world today,” reads the flyer.

Other activities include a craft and vendor show, a kids fun zone, basket auction and the Voice Box Competition from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

A Chiavetta’s Chicken BBQ and bake sale will start at noon on Saturday and run until everything has sold out.

On Sunday, worship with a message by Pastor David Hayes will open up the festival for the day at 10 a.m.

As for Vacanti, he will be performing on stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“Joshua Vacanti is the lead singer on Saturday,” Pastor David Hayes said, noting that after the concert he will meet and greet with his audience.

“He’ll be singing new releases,” Hayes said. “All original songs he’s been working on.”

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