Freedom Fest earns state award

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 3, 2002

Although people in Austin may already know how enjoyable the annual Freedom Fest in the Heartland celebration is, the Minnesota Office of Tourism

also has noticed.

For the third time since 1997, the festival has been given a "Minnesota Top Annual Group Tour Festivals and Events"

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award. Festival Executive Director Cindy Samuel received a letter congratulating the fest Wednesday.

"We are so proud to have received this," Samuel said. "It is a very strong competition."

The Freedom Fest was given this honor along with 12 other Minnesota events, including the Festival of Nations in St. Paul and Oktober Fest in New Ulm. Samuel said there are more than 1,000 community events a year in Minnesota.

"It was, in all eyes, a very successful festival," Samuel said.

The Freedom Fest was selected because of its promotional efforts, accessible facilities and varied activities, which "provided for enhanced group tour development in Austin and surrounding communities," according to the letter the Minnesota Office of Tourism sent Samuel.

The festival will be included in the 2003 Minnesota Group Tour Planner and will be in a list of the Office of Tourism's media programs and tour operator marketing programs. Seven of the festivals selected will be submitted to the American Bus Association to be eligible for one of the "Top 100 Events in North America" for 2004, according to the letter.

Samuel said the many volunteers and local sponsors helped make the event a success.

"They should be proud of this, too," she said of the people and businesses who supported it.

The Minnesota Office of Tourism gives out this award to deserving festivals once every three years.

The Freedom Fest in the Heartland was held July 4-7, 2002, in Austin, with a variety of events, entertainment and activities geared toward the family.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at