By NATE KING
Freedom Fest JC is back and bigger than ever before. Earlier this month I spoke with Junction City City Commissioner, Bob Story and State Representative Nate Butler to hear what makes this year's five day Fourth of July celebration a must attend event, the whole family will enjoy.
The festival will take place at Heritage Park, 101-199 W. 6th Street, in Junction City. Butler said WEEE Entertainment Carnival will set up their rides and attractions on Thursday.
"The carnival will line up on Jefferson Street and on Sixth Street, all of that area for about two, maybe three blocks," Butler said. "They have a large carnival this year. They've told us they're going to increase the number of rides by one. So we're excited about that."
The Freedom Fest event started two years ago replacing the Sundown Salute that had been held in the city for a number of years. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the event had to moved out of town.
"The downtown businesses and Junction City Main Street, wanted something back in downtown Junction City like we've had in the past. So we brought it back to life," Story said. "This is our second year for Freedom Fest JC and it's just a huge five day festival, carnival downtown crafters, vendors, great food and something new this year, there's going to be trapeze performers on Washington Street."
In addition to the carnival rides, trapeze performers, and craft vendors, Freedom Fest organizers told JC Post that the line up of musicians and bands will provide all event attendees with a wide variety of music to listen to, dance to and enjoy.
Music entertainment lineup
Friday, June 30
8:00 p.m.- The Flying Pages trapeze Act
8:30 p.m.-Paramount (80’s rock tribute band)
Saturday, July 1
6:30 p.m.- The Shaky Ground Band (Classic Rock)
7:30 p.m.- The Flying Pages trapeze Act
8:30 p.m.- The Frontmen (Country)
Sunday, July 2
8:00 p.m.-Consumed by Fire (Christian)
Monday, July 3
5:30 p.m.-Platinum Express (Motown, Soul, Funk, and Classic Rock)
7:30 p.m.-Foreigner Experience (Double Vision) Foreigner Tribute Band
9:00 p.m.-The Flying Pages trapeze Act
9:30 PM-Shooting Star (Nationally recognized Rock Band)
Tuesday, July 4
5:00 PM- Jay Hill Road Band (local musician)
6:30 PM-Burning Pianos (A Tribute to Keyboard Legends)
7:30 PM-The Flying Pages trapeze Act
8:30 PM-Hotel California (Eagles Tribute Band)
Butler said there will be many returning food trucks and vendors, with one notable new food option.
"We have a new vendor who's going to bring alligator on the stick to Freedom Fest 2023, which we are really excited about," Butler said. "We've got some of the them [food vendors] coming back from last year. The boba tea guy, the slushy guy, we've got the chicken and rice guy, we've got the lemon lady. So we've got a large variety of food vendors that they can come through and enjoy."
How can you have a Fourth of July celebration without fireworks? The Freedom Fest Fireworks Extravaganza will take place on Tuesday evening at 10 p.m. Story said due to the construction on the E. Sixth Street viaduct, the fireworks will be set off from near where the bridge is missing.
"We're gonna have to move that back a little bit. A little bit off of East Sixth Street, just where the bridge is missing from," Story said. "But we're going to shoot a little bit bigger shells. So they should go higher and be bigger."
Story, former Junction City Police Chief, said event organizers have been, and continue to work with local law enforcement to ensure a safe environment for the approximately 50,ooo+ event attendees.
"We coordinate with the police department, sheriff's office and we have spoken to the Kansas Highway Patrol and the fire department, all these people we deal with, they know everything that we're doing," Story said. "We block off the streets the best we can to where you don't have something accidentally happen, let alone on purpose. As always we keep a close eye on who's in the park, what's going on. In today's world, you got to do that."