A few years ago, Hope Darst was a mostly stay-at-home married mother of two soon-to-be middle schoolers, eyeing turning 40, long active with a worship ministry.
Devoted to sharing contemporary Christian music, both in Nashville and in places around the world, Darst was among those musicians who started The Belonging Company five years ago.
Fast forward to 2020, and a debut studio album, Peace Be Still, with its breakout hit single that would lead to three Dove Award nominations, for New Artist of the Year, Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year and Worship Recorded Song of the Year.
Her friend, songwriter Jonathan Smith produced the breakout hit, advising her to “take it one step at a time.
“I wasn’t thinking anything grand,” she said in a telephone interview Monday, from her car as she traveled to be part of a conference. “When I got it back, something special had happened. The phone started ringing, asking me what other songs I had, and I was suddenly staring at a record deal offer.
“I thought ‘What is happening?’” she said. “I was on a wild unexpected ride at 38.”
Darst will take that ride to stage this Friday night at 8:30 p.m. Battery Park, as she is the featured entertainment for an evening of Christian music, that begins at 3 p.m. with a host of warm-up bands.
On Saturday night, the 59th annual Florida Seafood Festival will feature country music artist Chris Cagle, a songwriter whose first song was published by the legendary Harlan Howard.
Cagle, 53, has recorded five albums Play It Loud (2000); Chris Cagle (2003); Anywhere but Here (2005); My Life’s Been a Country Song (2008); and Back in the Saddle (2012).
His hits include “My Love Goes On and On,” “Laredo,” “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out,” “What a Beautiful Day,” “Chicks Dig It,” “Miss Me Baby,” and “What Kinda Gone.”
Following her first full length album in 2020, Darst is now poised to roll out more music next year, based on her history of knowing a variety of musical styles from her years on staff at a multicultural church.
“I’ve traveled all over the world leading worship, India, Africa, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico,” she said. “What makes worship music is it has a universal message, to glorify God and tell them the good news of Jesus Christ.”
She’ll have a full band Friday night, including drums, piano and guitar, and she’ll showcase some new songs, from her recent hit “If The Lord Builds This House.”
Included will be songs that on his album feature John Reddick and David Leonard.
“The last couple years have been a new season for me,” she said. “My albums are a little bit of hybrid, modern music and songs for church and a couple songs that lean into more commercial sound.”
“This is the thing I feel absolutely called to do, to tell the story of who Jesus is and what he’s done in my life,” Darst said. “At the end of the day we write what we know, we write what we see and we write what we live. For me that’s been the story of Jesus over and over.”
No rides at Seafood Festival
The board of directors of the Florida Seafood Festival announced Tuesday morning that “ due to unforeseen circumstances, there will not be carnival rides at this year’s Festival.”
The announcement on Facebook said the board worked to convince a carnival company to come to the festival after natural disasters impacted the company secured earlier in the year, and made them unable to fulfill their commitment to the festival.
“We have worked diligently until this past Sunday to secure carnival-type rides but have yet to succeed,” read the announcement. “We have secured basic children’s event types of attractions such as rock climbing wall, mega slide, and other small interactive games. We are still trying to contact anyone and everyone we can for rides and carnival entertainment.”
The festival will feature more than 75 arts and crafts booths and 20 food booths, as well as the events listed below.
“We know this comes as a disappointment to many of our festival attendees, including all of us,” read the announcement. “As a board, we are heartbroken not to have the carnival for our community.”
SCHEDULE OF SEAFOOD FESTIVAL EVENTS
Friday, Nov. 4
10 a.m. Battery Park opens. No admission charge. Booths are open
3 to 7:45 p.m. Christian musical entertainment
4 p.m. Blessing of the Fleet at Andrus Pier
4:15 p.m. Arrival of King Retsyo Chris Howards and Miss Florida Seafood Autumn Loesch
4:30 p.m. Opening ceremonies at the information booth at Battery Park
8:30 p.m. Headliner Christian entertainer Hope Darst
10:30 p.m. Park Closes
Saturday, Nov. 5
7 a.m. Registration for the 5K Redfish Run, on the front steps of the Gibson Inn.
8 a.m. Start of the Redfish Run, that winds its way through the streets of Apalachicola.
10 a.m. Gates open. $5 admission, children under 12 free. No pets are allowed in the festival with the exception of service animals.
10 a.m. Parade starts along Highway 98 to the center of Apalachicola
1 to 5 p.m. Blue Crab Races, at the top of each hour, for children under 12.
1 p.m. Oyster Shucking Contest
1:15 p.m. Oyster Eating Contest
5 to 7 p.m. Musical Entertainment opens
8:30 p.m. Headliner Entertainer Chris Cagle
11 p.m. Park closes