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Best Bets: Celebrating the Fourth of July with Austin’s Freedom Fest

The 32nd annual Freedom Fest celebration in Austin begins on Friday. Running through July 4, Freedom Fest has no shortage of activities for the whole family.

“Freedom Fest is a celebration of community and country,” said Sandy Forstner, executive director of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce. The AACC organizes the event, which attracts crowds of about 20,000 people every year.

Festivities begin on Friday with a free concert in the Hormel Historic Home Peace Garden. There will also be an evening street dance hosted by Torge’s Live Sports Pub and Grill.

The festivities continue on Saturday morning with the annual Hog Jog and Dan Ulwelling Bike Race, which both start and end at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, along with a kid’s fishing contest at East Side Lake. The Austin Eagles will host a car show and parking lot party on Saturday afternoon. Vision 2020 will be showing “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” at Bandshell Park at dusk, a Freedom Fest first.

The Austin Lions Club will host the annual fly-in breakfast at the Austin Municipal Airport on Sunday morning. Cornerstone Church will host a service at Bandshell Park, followed by food and games.

Rides, activities and live stage performances will be held at Bandshell Park throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday. Forstner said all of the Bandshell Park rides and events are free, with the exception of food and craft sales. Visitors can get free food from the Spam Tiny House of Sizzle, which will be at the park on Tuesday giving out free “spamples.”

The newest Pillars of the City will also be unveiled on Tuesday afternoon at Bandshell Park.

The YMCA will host the annual Mini Piggy Fun Run Tuesday morning before the parade, and the Austin Fire Department will have a water fight on Ninth Place Southwest in the afternoon. There will also be a beanbag tournament north of Bandshell Park on Tuesday afternoon.

The two biggest events, the parade and fireworks display, will be held on Tuesday. The parade, which includes representatives from 100 businesses, schools, attractions and organizations from Austin and the surrounding area, will start at 11 a.m. and will run along Main Street. Members of the city’s various veterans’ organizations will lead the parade.

“We put an emphasis on our veterans and what they’ve done to keep us free,” Forstner said.

The fireworks display, which Forstner describes as “the finest fireworks display you’ve ever seen,” will take place at 10 p.m. on Tuesday. A smaller fireworks display will also take place at 10 p.m. on Monday. Both displays will be at Bandshell Park.

“It’s a great time to get together with family and friends in your hometown and enjoy a wide variety of events,” Forstner said. “It’s a good old-fashioned Fourth of July.”

Volunteers Needed

The Austin Chamber of Commerce is seeking volunteers to work as cross guards and at the information tent. Available shifts are:

•4 to 6 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at the information tent on Monday, July 3

•6 to 8 p.m. as a crossing guard on Monday, July 3

•2 to 4 p.n. at the information tent on Tuesday, July 4

•6 to 8 p.m. as a crossing guard on Tuesday, July 4

For more information or to volunteer, call Jeanine at 507-437-4561.