Annual Greenwood Freedom Festival Kicks Off June 30
Writer: Cathy Wendorff
Photographer: Erin Feldmeyer
Greenwood’s oldest festival celebrates Independence Day in Craig Park starting with a community patriot parade at noon that kicks off an entire day of fun with music, food, shopping and fireworks. The Freedom Festival, which is always held on the last Saturday in June, is a popular community tradition that just keeps growing according to Robert Taggart, Executive Director of Greenwood Parks and Recreation. Despite the area’s construction, more than 50,000 people are expected to attend, and there is something for everyone with more than 200 food and retail booths alongside live music on two stages this year.
Preparations for the festival have been made around the construction as well as changes to the parade route to turn West on Main St and then South on Market Plaza to South on Madison Ave.
“The parade and the Freedom Festival kind of flow together now, meaning that if you’re here for the parade, the parade route is structured in such a way that when it ends it allows people access to the festival after the parade,” says Taggart, who has been affiliated with the Freedom Festival for more than 10 years. “The current layout of Freedom Festival where you have all your merchant booths and then you have your food vendors, that amalgamated all together and has really only been the last 3-4 years that we have been doing that. Old Merchants had a festival before the Freedom Festival, the retail merchants set up in the old city park. A few years back we decided to combine the two and it’s worked really well.”
The Kid Zone and Family Stage feature bounce houses, face painting, dance parties and magic shows from 1:00 to 9:00. There are plenty of food vendors on tap this year, too.
“We’ve got a broad range of eclectic food vendors from elephant ears and barbecue and pulled pork to ice cream and funnel cakes,” Taggart says.
The retail booths are filled with local businesses and nonprofits that wrap around the diamonds, and they are open from 1:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Live Music plays from the Amphitheater Main Stage with a line-up of Haley Jonay at 3:00, Blue River Band at 4:00, Carly Storie Band at 6:00 and The Why Store at 8:00. Meanwhile The 4th Annual Freedom Jam jumpstarts at 2:00 p.m. with local musical acts competing in acoustic and full-band divisions on the Korn Country Stage.
At 6:00 the Freedom Jam winner will be announced, followed by a special ceremony Honoring our Heroes at 7:00.
The popular group,“Tastes Like Chicken,” will also perform at 8:30 on the Korn Country Stage.
Just before the night sky illuminates, at 10:00 p.m. Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers will help celebrate the American Spirit along with Greenwood High School’s performance of the National Anthem and the GFD Honor and Guard Taps and Flag Salute. Then, with all eyes towards the sky, the high point of the day begins as explosions of color fill the air.
The fireworks are presented by Korn Country 100.3, and Taggart says, “We partner with them and Korn does an absolutely fantastic job, it always goes really well.”
As a crowd favorite the pyrotechnic display is timed to music, which makes for a spectacular show that is sure to thrill all ages.
“It’s just a chance for friends, family and the community to get together and celebrate the Fourth of July and celebrate downtown as well,” Taggart says. “It’s held in the heart of downtown Greenwood, so it’s a really good setting and it’s a really good event. It’s a chance for the community to get out and take a break and enjoy the park, look at the great festival and how it’s all put together.”
A special feature that is being offered is a VIP ticket for $40.00 per person, which includes catering by Oaken Barrel in a private tent on the tennis courts with private restrooms courtesy of professional services that offer restroom trailers for rent. You can even enjoy the fireworks from an exclusive elevated spot for a fantastic festival experience.
It’s not too late to be a part of this year’s Freedom Festival by filling out an entry form to participate in the parade, Freedom Jam, to rent booth space or volunteer. For more information visit greenwood.in.gov and click on Freedom Festival for maps, entry forms and band lineups.