From the opening ceremony Friday to fireworks Saturday, patriotism will be on full display during the Freetown July Festival.
The annual festival, sponsored by the Pershing Township Volunteer Fire Department, will start at 6 p.m. Friday with a “Happy Birthday, Jackson County” presentation during the opening ceremony. That will celebrate this year’s bicentennials of the county, Brownstown and Indiana.
During the ceremony, Jackson County History Center representatives will speak, veterans from all branches will be saluted and patriotic music will be presented by Long Family Singers of Freetown and Isaac Kenneth, a singer-songwriter and musician from Seymour, Missouri.
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Cheryl Long, vice president of the festival committee, said several veterans from the area typically attend the opening ceremony.
“I just feel like we need to be reminded of who has gone and fought for our country, and we need to acknowledge them,” Long said. “It needs to be something that the younger generation grows up seeing, as well — you are to honor the veterans.”
Both days of the festival, the fire department will sell food, including hamburgers, hot dogs, chili, nachos, homemade desserts and drinks. On Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m., there also will be a fish fry and a hog roast. New this year, the department’s ladies auxiliary will sell taco salads Saturday in the cafeteria.
“Nobody is going to go hungry at the festival,” Long said.
Also new this year is a photo booth, which will feature an oversize Polaroid and other props to use for people to take pictures.
Other activities Friday night include a pedal tractor pull, open karaoke and Kids’ Alley, featuring games and activities.
Saturday kicks off with a tractor drive at 9 a.m., followed by a baby contest at 9:30 a.m., a 5K run/walk at 10 a.m., line dancing lessons at 11 a.m. and a car show at noon.
Long said the car show is back this year after not being conducted last year. It will feature cars, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and other vehicles. The first 25 entries will receive a T-shirt and a dash plaque, and door prizes will be handed out throughout the afternoon.
The parade, with Jackson County Sheriff Mike Carothers as grand marshal, will run through town starting at 1 p.m. An auction is set to start at 4 p.m. at the fire department.
Kids’ Alley will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a new large water slide this year along with a bouncy house, an obstacle course, games and activities.
A variety of acts will perform on the stage throughout the day, including Country Kickers at 11:45 a.m., Ciara Fisher at 2 p.m., comedian Jonny Boehlke at 2:30 p.m., Infinity at 3 p.m., Long Family Singers at 4 p.m., Isaac Kenneth at 5 p.m. and Freetown native and Nashville recording artist Don Pedigo at 6 p.m.
“We are thrilled that he is willing to come back and do this with us,” Long said of Pedigo performing.
Long said there will be limited seating around the stage, so she encourages people to bring their own lawn chairs.
“We are really looking forward to a major crowd this year,” Long said. “We believe this will be about the best festival we’ve had in a long time.”
A karaoke contest will be on the stage at 7:30 p.m., and fireworks will close the festival at 10 p.m.
The Freetown July Festival started in 1936 and was conducted on the Fourth of July for many years. The festival stopped at one point until being revived 11 years ago by the Pershing Township Volunteer Fire Department.
Long said the festival typically draws people from all around Jackson County and the area. This year, the committee also advertised the festival outside of Jackson County with Pedigo returning to his hometown to perform.
“For our family, it’s the highlight of the year,” Long said of the festival. “Our whole community coming together, having fun and spending time together, it’s a wonderful weekend.”
Freetown July Festival
6 p.m.: Opening ceremony (Happy Birthday, Jackson County)
6:30 p.m.: Pedal tractor pull registration at the basketball court
7 to 9 p.m.: Kids’ Alley games and activities
7 p.m.: Pedal tractor pull at the basketball court
7 p.m.: Open karaoke
9 a.m.: Baby contest registration (birth to 36 months; $5 fee per category)
9 a.m.: Tractor drive at the ball diamond
9 a.m. to noon: Car show registration ($10 registration fee)
9:30 a.m.: Psi Iota Xi Beta Mu chapter baby contest at the stage
10 a.m. to 9 p.m.: Kids’ Alley games and activities
10 a.m.: Pershing Township Volunteer Fire Department 5K run/walk at the fire station
11 a.m.: You Can Dance line dancing lessons
11:45 a.m.: Country Kickers
Noon to 4 p.m.: Anything on Wheels Freewheelin’ Car Show
1 p.m.: Parade
2 p.m.: Ciara Fisher
2:30 p.m.: Comedian Jonny Boehlke
3 p.m.: Infinity
4 p.m.: Auction at the fire station
4 p.m.: Long Family Singers
5 p.m.: Isaac Kenneth
6 p.m.: Don Pedigo
7 p.m.: Karaoke contest signup and practice
7:30 p.m.: Karaoke contest
10 p.m.: Fireworks
Throughout the festival, food will be available for purchase at the fire station. Friday’s menu includes hamburgers, hot dogs, chili, nachos, homemade desserts and drinks. Saturday will feature the same menu along with a fish fry and a hog roast starting at 11 a.m. and taco salads sold by the ladies auxiliary in the cafeteria.