Story by Megan Boatwright

Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA. (WRCB)-- Thousands showed up for Chattanooga's own Christian music festival. This year marks the 12th year for J-Fest. After recession woes last year, event organizers say they were happy to be back at Camp Jordan drawing the larger crowds they've grown into over the years.

In the world of Christian music, J-Fest definitely had some of the top artists lined up this weekend. This event actually started as a fundraiser for the J-103 radio station, but the people there say over the years it's turned into much more.

"It went great, it's always fun. I've been here before and you can always tell that the people of Chattanooga love their Christian music," says Natalie Grant.

These artists aren't ones you'll hear on mainstream radio, but turn the dial to J-103 or any Christian station and names like Natalie Grant, Matthew West, Aaron Shust and "Among the Thirsty" are staple.

"But the festivals grown into more than just a fundraiser, in fact the fundraising aspect of it has kind of taken, even though it's a big deal, kind of taken a step back," says Ted Gocke.

J-Fest also draws youth groups from all over the southeast.

"A lot of these bands we sing in church," says Breanna Cheek.

The J-Fest Festival is the biggest fundraiser of the year for J-103 radio. But over the years it's grown and taken on a life of it's own. Thanks to the recession, organizers were forced to change the venue and scale down the acts last year. But the crowds are back in drove this weekend.

"This year we've kind of grown it back to where it was to begin with and we had a huge crowd today in fact it exceeded my expectations the crowd we had today," says Gocke.

...something many are happy to see.

"Just to come out and praise the lord, have fun fellowship with other," says Lydia Johnson.

"This whole event is centered around the message in the music more than just the music," says Natalie Grant.

Festival organizers say they've tried to keep the price of admission affordable over the years. This year tickets were $15  a day, and kids under 12 got in for free.