An estimated 50,000 people are expected to attend the 26th anniversary event
By Mackenzie Klahr
One of the biggest events in the Indianapolis area will likely draw an estimated 50,000 people this year, making it one of the most iconic festivals in the region.
“Coming to our events, almost everything is free and we work very hard to keep it that way,” said Jennifer Kehl, executive director of the festival.
Embracing the community of Fishers and maintaining equal opportunities to all who arrive are two goals the festival works hard to achieve she says and keeping it free of charge is a job Kehl does not take lightly.
“That is one of our main goals, that no matter what your income level everyone can come out and have the exact same experience,” she said.
The festival relies heavily on its volunteers. Kehl has approximately 40 people who act as area managers. A volunteer of the year from Hamilton County is named at each festival. Last year, Ed Pierce won the award. More than 200 volunteers help during the event, the days leading up to it and the Monday following the festival. Some of the volunteers include: Fishers high school and middle school students, D.A.R.E. members, church groups, the Kiwanis Club, and members of the community.
Don Dragoo, president of the festival’s board has volunteered since the beginning, starting out as the overseer of trash clean-up the year the festival was born.
“It’s having people come and get together to create something that the rest of the residents in the community can benefit and enjoy,” Dragoo said of his reasons for volunteering.
Two of the most memorable portions of the festival are its parade, which corrals roughly five thousand people onto the streets of Fishers and its fireworks show, which people view from all over town. There will be road closings because of the parade starting around around 3 p.m. Roads that will be closed are:
- 116th Street
- Lantern Road
- Holland Drive
- Sunblest: Between Ellipse Boulevard and Lantern Road
All streets will be reopened once viewers have left the area and police officials have given the all clear.
“It’s relatively a short period of time during one day,” Dragoo said. “The inconvenience I hope will be offset by the benefits of serving the community and bringing a family atmosphere.”
The fireworks, which are made specifically for the Freedom Festival, are its second highest expense. The 20-minute show includes a personalized Fishers firework at the very end followed by an American Flag design.
The Freedom Festival is a private organization separate from the Town of Fishers and the Fishers Chamber of Commerce and is run solely off donations.
“It’s all us, we are our own nonprofit that provides service to the town,” Kehl said.
The festival encourages everyone who attends to bring a canned food item for local food pantries or articles for its school supply drive. Donation stations will be open both days. Items needed are listed in the festival’s guide.
Several fundraisers are held throughout the year to raise money for the festival. Oktoberfest, which is held in September and the Freedom Festival’s Craft Show bring in funding to pay for the event.
With the popularity of the festival as great as ever and over a third of attendees coming from outside of Hamilton County, Kehl holds tight to the small town feeling the festival brings to Fishers.
“We want to give them something they will remember for the rest of their lives,” she said. “It brings families together as well as friends neighbors to celebrate our independence and the Town of Fishers with community spirit.”
Impacting the lives of children is what Kehl personally feels the festival is all about. She recalls, in particular, a boy who started volunteering in junior high and today, years later, has completed graduate school and lives in California.
“Every year his mother finds me and makes a point to thank me for what the committee does for the community, it really means a lot that she comes and does that,” Kehl said.
In addition to its entertainment selections, the festival is excited to add two new attractions this year, a 240-foot zip line along with a photo booth from Viral Booth Indianapolis.
The event, commemorating the Beauty of Fishers and American Independence will take place on Saturday, June 28and Sunday, June 29 at Roy G. Holland Memorial Park.
For more information on the festival and what time each event takes place, visit www.FishersFreedomFestival.com.
Fishers Freedom Festival: June 28 & 29 2014
Roy G. Holland Memorial Park
- 5k and 2-mile family walk (Saturday)
- Indiana Disc Dog Classic
- The Kiddie run
- Silent auction
- Business Vendors Tent
- Arts and Craft booths
- Firefighter Combat Challenge
- Children’s Tent- contains many crafts such as sand art, face painting, button making handprint poems, puppet shows and other items
- Kid’s sport zone
- Kid’s and Adult Firefighter Combat Challenge
- Water balloon launch and dunk tank
- Beer and Wine Garden
- Climbing Wall
- Zip Line
- Tethered Hot Air Balloon Rides
- Teen Area – includes DJ and Dancing
- Entertainment Tent
- Stella Luna and the Satellites (Saturday) Big Cat Daddy (Sunday)
- Children’s Parade (Sunday)
- Fireworks (Sunday)
- Nondenominational Church Service (Sunday)