The festival, held by Chicago-based Jesus People U.S.A., attracts approximately 25,000 people each year to Bushnell, Illinois. And it seems as if the attendees have almost as many different styles, backgrounds and even hair colors.
A bright sun-dressed young girl strolls hand-in-hand with a tall man in a dog collar and three-foot pink spikes of hair. A two-year boy sports a mohawk. Not far away, an older man in Khakis thumbs through CDs for sale.
At the stages, a crowd at the acoustic Kendall Payne concert lift their arms in worship to the simple one-guitar music while a walking distance away (everything here is a walking distance away—although at times a long walk), young dancers cram the Stretch Armstong tent to slam against each other to the hardcore music.
This is the pride of Cornerstone and a trait often discussed at the July 3-7 festival. No matter the shape or size, these people come together as Christians.
"They're all unique in their own ways," said Kelly Wootton of Elburn, Illinois. "I guess no one cares what others think here. They are just expressing themselves."
Diversity is seen in the dress and appearance of attendees but also in their campsites that litter the expansive acreage of the middle-of-nowhere southern Illinois grounds. They come as youth groups, as friends and as whole families.
Tents and a surprising amount of VW vans take up every available piece of dirt or grass—on hillsides, against trees and along Lake Wildwood. Some have signs inviting folks to drop by, others have pink flamingoes and wading pools. License plates range from California to Saskatchewan to Georgia.