MegaFest, the four-day faith and family festival put on by Dallas Bishop T.D. Jakes, kicked off Wednesday morning. Organizers promise a bigger, better Megafest with a focus on bringing economic empowerment to under-served communities.
In the past, MegaFest has brought in crowds as large as 90,000 — with star-studded guests like Oprah Winfrey and director Tyler Perry. This year, the festival aims to be even more mega — 100,000 people are expected to flood into the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center this weekend.
Festival sponsors include Toyota and PepsiCo. There will be sessions on starting businesses and opportunities in film, STEM outreach for women and girls — and a "Shark Tank"-like competition for enterprising middle and high school students. A winning business pitch gets them $50,000.
T.D. Jakes, a pastor at The Potter’s House megachurch, says this year's festival is all about and uplifting those in need.
“We have to create opportunities. So in the midst of festivities and fun and spirituality, we're also looking for ways that people can have opportunities to feed their families, pay off their college bills and things that are relevant to Americans today,” he said.
The festival plans to uplift in more ways than one. Phillip Jones, the president and CEO of Visit Dallas, says the event injects a lot into the economy.
“Sixty million [dollars] in economic impact, $32 million in direct spend. And the last time we hosted this in 2015, we had people from around the world — literally 32 countries and all 50 states. So it's really a global reach that brings a spotlight and attention to the City of Dallas in a positive way,” he says.
This is the third Megafest to be hosted in Dallas. Jones hopes to keep it here in 2019, 2021 and so on.