Twin Cities Festival draws 200,000 to State Capitol

The Christian festival hosted extreme sports and speaker Luis Palau.

The crowd cheered as a BMX biker jumped 6 feet in the air, flying over a man with his hands extended upward. The biker wheeled over to one corner of the 9,000-square foot skate park and sat among a group of skateboarders and BMX bikers for a photo op.

Before the camera flashed, one skateboarder held up his board with the word “Jesus” painted on the underside.

The custom-built skate park was part of the Twin Cities Festival, a free Christian event held this weekend at the State Capitol in St. Paul. More than 200,000 attended the event, which featured evangelist Luis Palau, Christian music and biking and skating shows.

Candace Teichroew, a University College of Liberal Arts student, and her brother Jonathan, who graduated from the Carlson School of Management this year, were among the spectators for the skate park show.

The siblings belong to the Christian Student Fellowship at the University.

Candace Teichroew, who came to the festival at 11:30 a.m. to volunteer, had a clear view of the show and said it was the best part of the festival.

A skateboard park employee, who identified himself as Lizzy, said extreme sports are a way for Christians to reach out to people and share their faith.

“When Christ talked, he talked about fish and farming. He related to the people of that time, and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” Lizzy said.

After watching the professional skateboarders and bikers, the Teichroew siblings and other Christian Student Fellowship members sat in the shade and watched a live performance of the gospel choir Excelsior.

Later in the evening, the students saw the musical group Casting Crowns. After the band performed, Palau took the stage.

“His main message was saying, ‘If you want to go to heaven, the way is through Jesus,’ ” Candace Teichroew said.

“I thought it was neat how he related to everyone,” she said. “He’s a very energetic speaker.”

Jonathan Teichroew said Palau succeeded in reaching a broad audience.

“I was looking around and it seemed like people were pretty spellbound,” he said. “With all those people it was really quiet. He really commanded their attention.”

During his talk, Palau prayed aloud with people who wanted to accept Jesus in their hearts, Candace Teichroew said.

Festival spokesman Craig Chastain said people praying aloud with Palau were asked to raise their hands so a festival counselor could meet with them and set them up with a church in their area.

Counselors reached about 10,000 people, one of the largest groups in the history of the Palau ministry, according to the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association.

After the Twin Cities, the festival will travel to Madrid, Spain, Fiji and Lima, Peru.