June 20, 2012ASHLAND—On Saturday, July 28, Jeff MacDonald invites all ages to "Rock the Park," a free all day event from noon to 10 p.m., featuring bands from across the east coast, guest speakers from all over the world and various vendors and merchants to "rock the love."
"I am old enough to know that I grew up in a time that is much different than it is now, and now there's kids bringing guns to school, and it's happening in New Hampshire," said MacDonald. "We need this here. We need community, and these kids need to know somebody is out there that cares, and that there is hope."
MacDonald's idea for community outreach and spreading his message of community and love has been a long time coming, and he hopes that Rock the Park will give Ashland residents and members of surrounding towns a sense of community that he feels will solve major problems.
"I bring the concept of making it community wide and bringing communities together," said MacDonald. "I figured if everybody would help one another, we wouldn't even need welfare if people would just get out and help one another."
The eight bands slated to take stage at the event are of the Christian Rock genre, and are coming from all over New England to take part in the event.
"They are from all over New England," said MacDonald. "The band Artists Include is from Maine, and they're a heavy metal scream-o band. The Blacksmiths are also from Maine, Eyes of Elisha's from North Conway, Sanctifier is from Lowell, Mass. and Delivered's from right here in New Hampton. The North is from Nashua, Pax Romana is from Laconia and One Less Lost is from Chichester, New Hampshire."
With a variety of bands from a variety of places, MacDonald ensures that Rock the Park will provide Ashland with a unique family experience for the day.
"It's hard to get people I am looking for because they all aren't in one place — they're all over, and that's what makes what we're going really unique," said MacDonald.
Though community members may be hesitant with the idea of a rock concert in the park, MacDonald invites everyone to come stop by and judge for themselves.
"It's free to come in; free admission," said MacDonald. "They can come in and judge for themselves, the people that have questions and people that wonder. I know Christians have got a bad name, and rightfully so. We have been very bad at what we have done."
Rock the Park's religious undertone promises to be inviting and subtle, as MacDonald wants those that have questions about religion and faith to feel comfortable and welcome in the laid back atmosphere, compared to walking into a church.
"Our message isn't going out there and beating people over the head with a Bible," said MacDonald. "Our message is go do it, be a doer. Jesus died for me to get out there and do good work, and to love my neighbor as myself."
The laid back atmosphere and the "be a doer" mantra is how MacDonald practices religion, and reflects his view of who Jesus is and what his intensions are.
"I think most people have a misconception about how Jesus is and what he is all about," said MacDonald. "He's not some dictator and some guy up there. He is someone that loves us and cares about us, and has an excellent plan for our lives, and we're going to show that."
MacDonald plans to have a handful of guest speakers talk in between bands about their experience, and hopefully motivate and inspire those in attendance. Speakers are traveling all the way from the likes of Georgia and Australia.
"In between every band, there is a 20 minute changeover for bands to set up and break down, and there will be motivational speakers there to encourage people during that time," said MacDonald.
There will also be different churches and outreach groups at the event to help provide information and show different types of community outreach.
"Different churches from around the area are going to be there, and different outreaches will be there," said MacDonald. "Teen Challenge will be there, and Rise again, which is out of Loudon, has busses that drive around the state that are loaded up with clothes, food and stuff will be there with their bus."
Aside from Rock the Park, MacDonald has been working on community outreach, helping the community of Ashland to be a better place.
"We did a food drive and went around Ashland collecting food for food pantries," said MacDonald. "We have passed out free hot chocolate and doughnuts on Main Street last winter. We also got a group together that went down to the Salvation Army in Laconia, and we had a coffee house down there where we went in and stayed with the people they administer to."
For MacDonald, Rock the Park isn't just an event — it is part of his mission to make the community better, to protect local youth and to spread the love.
"It's not just a onetime event, and it can't just be a onetime event where people are going to walk away from this, and the next day, they are going to forget," said MacDonald. "We have a message outreach to get people involved, and it is a group and we go out and do good deeds out in the community. We are doing it here in Ashland, but we want to spread groups all over New Hampshire in different towns where everybody takes care of their own town."
To get involved in Rock the Park or the community outreach, contact MacDonald at 937-0270 or visit the event Web site at www.wix.com/rockthepark/festival.