It’s 25 feet high, 60 feet wide and just under 100 feet long.
But better than being unique, the newly-opened white tent next to WJTL-FM’s new offices in East Hempfield Township is just one more way to reach out to the community, station official Tim Landis says.
He adds that the tent is one of only four like it in the world.
“We see the tent as part of our slogan, ‘Christ, Community, Music,'” says Landis, president of WJTL/Creative Ministries.
“We want to be a community asset, and we see the Junction Center (WJTL’s new offices) as a part of that.”
Starting last weekend and continuing through the fall, the new tent, built by a firm in Calgary, Alberta, is being used for a series of concerts, movies and other events by WJTL (90.3 FM), the Lancaster County-based Christian-contemporary radio station.
“We’re really excited about the Junction Center tent,” which seats some 650 people, Landis says.
“When you’re inside, it’s very much high-tech … totally open inside with a real pleasing geometry.
“We joke that ‘it’s not your father’s tent,'” he says, laughing. “It’s a prototype, and so far it’s working great for us.”
The tent’s first main event was a “Kids’ Cookie Break Festival” last weekend, an event geared toward youngsters and their parents.
There will be a private concert next Friday with local worship artists Reilly, the Matt Goss Band and singer-songwriter Marty Shaughnessy, known best as frontman for the band the Rainchildren.
The tent will remain open through the end of October and then “really get rolling” next spring, Landis said, and in 2014 it’s expected to be open from mid-May through mid-October.
Upcoming events this fall at the tent at the Junction Center, 1875 Junction Road, Manheim, include:
• “Movie Nights” on a pair of Fridays (Sept. 20 and Oct. 18).
• A concert by Christian recording artist Derek Webb, joined by performer Matt Wheeler, on Saturday, Sept. 28.
• A concert by well-known Christian contemporary performers Bebo Norman, Andrew Peterson and Sara Groves on Friday, Oct. 4.
• A night of comedy with Harris III and 321 Improv on Thursday, Oct. 24.
• And a concluding concert by Christian-rock pioneers Petra the following night, Friday, Oct. 25.
Landis emphasizes that “Christ is our first goal, spreading the good news of the Gospel, and being involved in the community also is a very big part of what we do.”
This fall’s events in the tent are sort of “a test drive, where we’re working out the kinks,” Landis adds. “And then we’ll go full bore starting next May.”
When summer 2014 concerts are taking place, expect 8-foot-high fans to be in place, keeping air moving in the tent and lowering the temperature, Landis said.
WJTL, a listener-supported, noncommercial station that had been broadcasting from offices and a studio in Manheim Township for more than two decades, moved to its new 27-acre East Hempfield property in 2011.
It is two miles north of Route 283’s Route 722/State Road exit, near Landisville.
Last spring, Landis had spelled out in a letter to listeners some of the station’s future hopes for the tent and the new campus.
The tent also could be made available to community groups for special events, Landis said.
That would be similar to the way WJTL has made land at its new campus available to the Penn Legacy soccer club, which had plans for using another possible site on Graystone Road fall through in early 2013 because of stormwater problems and other concerns.
The soccer club is using WJTL’s excess land for practice fields, and “it just worked out great for both organizations,” Landis said this week.
Long-term plans are to build a permanent community fine arts building at the Junction Center, which will allow for year-round usage rather than the six months provided by a tent.