Celebrate a nation: Not long now and Austin will be celebrating the Grand Ole Fourth

Published 7:01 am Sunday, June 24, 2018

You could call it the melting pot of festivals, this Freedom Fest – a patriotic, red, white and blue wing ding of a party that proudly displays the best of what the Austin community has to offer. And that’s a lot.

The festival will entertain over five days of fun, June 29-July 4. A pre-event, the Golden Duck Treasure Hunt – a fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network begins on June 25.

“This is the largest community celebration around,” said Austin Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandy Forstner.  “We always draw over 20,000 to our community and it’s geared toward everyone.”

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The 2018 version of Freedom Fest keeps its successful mainstays – such as its Independence Day Parade, fireworks, family day at Bandshell Park, Hog Jog, street dance and so on – but will feature a few additions as well.

The parade will follow the same route as a year ago, starting near Bremer Bank on North Main Street and running south to Bandshell Park.

The annual JCs street dance, featuring Six to Midnight and Skitzo Fonic, will be the major June 29 event. On June 30, things really get running with the Hog Jog Five-mile run, the kids free fishing contest, the 25-mile Dan Ulwelling Bike Race, and the parking lot party and car show at the Eagles. A free outdoor movie at dusk will be shown at Shirley Theel Memorial Park.

July 1 will be restful, with the Lion’s annual Fly-In Breakfast at Austin Airport. A free Peace Garden Concert will feature the Austin Community Jazz Band at 6:30 p.m. at Hormel Historic Home.

Family Day at Bandshell Park is packed with a full day of activities, including free rides and slides for the kids. In addition to beer garden, Bingo, artisans, magic and lots of concessions, a full slate of live entertainment – the Galactic Cowboy Orchestra will be featured, along with the Miss Sparkler/Mr. Firecracker pageant and the Pillars of the City unveiling — will be on hand starting at 2 p.m. and ending at 10 p.m.

The always-popular fireworks, created by Flashing Thunder, will be displayed both July 3 and July 4 at dusk.

The Fourth promises another day of fun, starting with the YMCA Mini Piggy Fun Run and followed at 11 a.m. by the annual Independence Day Parade.

Another day of live stage entertainment in Bandshell Park, starting at 12:30 p.m., will include lots of musical offerings.

The Freedom Fest Fireworks Raffle will offer up $2,900 in cash and prizes, with $1,000 the first place prize. You can purchase tickets at the Chamber office or from Chamber members.

“The thing people tell us over and over is that when the Fifth of July comes, everybody is happy they were  a part of the Fourth,” Forstner said.

Freedom Fest Highlights

June 29

•8 p.m. Jaycees Street Dance at Torge’s Live, featuring “Six to Midnight” ( 8 p.m. to midnight, outside) and “Skitzo Fonic” (9 p.m. to midnight, inside). $5 cover charge at the door.

June 30

•8 a.m. Hog Jog 5-Mile Run, Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. Pre-register at the YMCA.

•9-11 a.m. Kids Fishing Contest at East Side Lake.

•Noon. 25-Mile Dan Ulwelling Bike Race, Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. Registration: $12 by June 11; $15 thereafter. Register at the Chamber.

•2 p.m. Car Show and Parking Lot Party at Eagles, live music. Dusk. Outdoor Movie at Shirley Theel Memorial Park.

July 1

•7 a.m. Austin Morning Lions Fly-In Breakfast

•6:30 p.m. Free Peace Garden Concert at Hormel Historic Home,

performance by Austin Community Jazz Band.

July 3

•2-10 p.m. Bandshell Park entertainment.

•3:30 p.m. Miss Sparkler/Mr. Firecracker Pageant.

•6:45 p.m. Galactic Cowboy Orchestra

•8 p.m. Pillars of the City unveiling/presentation

•8:30 p.m. Austin Symphony Orchestra.

•10 p.m. Fireworks

July 4

•10:45 a.m. Mini Piggy Fun Run

•11 a.m. Independence Day Parade

•12:30-10 p.m. Live stage entertainment, Bandshell Park

•10 p.m. Fireworks