By Sam Elliott
Back for the 28th year, the annual Fishers Freedom Festival presented by Freedom Mortgage is set to return to Roy G. Holland Memorial Park, 1 Park Dr., June 25-26.
The two-day Saturday and Sunday event is expanding to add a Friday night component this year, too, as the band Jambox will play an 8 p.m. concert at the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater, where food trucks and a beer garden will also be located, to kick off the weekend.
“We’re adding that to celebrate the Indiana bicentennial and then we’ll be back out early Saturday morning for the registration for the 5K run,” Fishers Freedom Festival Executive Director Jennifer Kehl said. “We usually have about 1,100-plus runners and we also have a two-mile family walk that go through the neighborhoods.”
Once back at Holland Park, there are countless opportunities for more family fun to be had. The suggested cost of admission into the festival is canned foods, new backpacks, school supplies, diapers, toiletries or new toys, books or puzzles to support the event’s philanthropic endeavors.
“We do a food drive throughout the weekend of the festival and then this year we’re going to extend it on from the festival until July 1,” Kelh said. “We’re going to have a truck set out in the old Launch Fishers parking lot behind the library where people can come and drop things off throughout the week. We really hope to deliver a lot more food to the local pantries.”
“That’s a community challenge,” Marketing and Public Relations Manager Casey Cawthon added. “That’s going to be a giant truck and the goal is to fill that up between the festival and July 1. So, challenge issued. Hopefully people accept it.”
The festival’s opening ceremony begins at 10 a.m. June 25 in front of the Holland Park flagpole, where local Boy Scouts will assist Fishers policemen and firefighters in raising the American flag and the festival’s royal court will be crowned.
The event’s business vendors tent opens at 9 a.m., followed by the children’s tent — full of opportunities for arts and crafts plus children’s entertainment — B.A.C.A. Charities tent with hands-on activities designed for children with special needs, and silent auction tent opening at 10 a.m. Other attractions including a zip line, climbing wall, water balloon launch, dunk tank and the beer and wine garden open at 11 a.m.
Silent auction proceeds, plus funds from the 5K, benefit the Roy Holland Backpacks for Kids program, which the festival founded in 2000.
“We work directly with the schools, who tell us what grade level, boy or girl and how many they need and we deliver backpacks to the schools and they get them to kids who need them. We’re really proud of that program,” Kehl said. “We also offer educational scholarships to high school seniors. We’re offering two $1,000 scholarships and we also offer a $2,500 scholarship for a student who’s either a city employee or their children. We try to give back to the city that way.”
Saturday’s schedule concludes with a concert by Stella Luna and the Satellites at 7:30 p.m. before another full day of food and entertainment Sunday capped by fireworks at dusk.
The festival’s main parade is set for 4 p.m. Sunday, beginning at Technology Lane and Lantern Road heading through Municipal Circle, west on 116th Street to Holland Drive, north to Elipse Parkway and back onto Lantern Road and Technology Drive.
“New this year, we’re going to pull the children’s parade out of the festival and instead actually doing it during the Tuesday night concert series after the festival,” Kehl said.
Kehl has been involved with the Fishers Freedom Festival for 27 years and is in her 23rd serving as director. She’s seen both Fishers and the festival grow over the years — as Fishers’ population was approximately 3,000 residents when she started and now the festival alone draws approximately 45,000 visitors.
“I’ve enjoyed giving back to the community and giving something we can all be proud of to celebrate our community spirit,” she said. “And it’s for the kids. That’s the best part. They can come run and play all day and parents don’t really have to spend a lot of money, so that’s nice.”
Her husband, Fishers Police Chief George Kehl, was selected to serve as this year’s parade grand marshal ahead of his September retirement after a 40-year career with the city.
28th annual Fishers Freedom Festival
Partial schedule of events
For full schedule, visit FishersFreedomFestival.org
Friday, June 24
8 p.m. – Jambox concert at Nickel Plate District Amphitheater
Saturday, June 25
8 a.m. – 5K run and family two-mile walk
9 a.m. – Indy Disc Dog UFO World Cup
10 a.m. – Opening ceremonies
10:45 a.m. – School of Rock musicians performance
11 a.m. – Beer and Wine Garden opens
12:15 p.m. – Master Yoo’s Tae Kwon Do demonstration
12:45 p.m. – Faten Munger and Flores de Sebilla Dance Company performance
1:30 p.m. – Fishers Police Dept. and Hamilton County law enforcement K9 demonstration
2 p.m. – Wishes Dance Studio performance
2:30 p.m. – Barry Rice comedy/magic show
3:15 p.m. – School of Rock singers performance
4 p.m. – Fishers Music Works performance
5:30 p.m. – Pizza eating contest between City of Fishers departments
6:30 p.m. – Travis Frank concert
Tethered hot air balloon rides begin
7:30 p.m. – Stella Luna and the Satellites concert
Sunday, June 26
8:30 a.m. – Non-denominational church service
9 a.m. – Indy Disc Dog Ashley Whippet competition
Noon – Beer and Wine Garden opens
1 p.m. – Postcard Band performance
2 p.m. – 4 Leaf Cloggers performance
2:30 p.m. Francie Bond Gospel Music performance
4 p.m. – Fishers Freedom Festival Parade
6:30 p.m. – Big Daddy Caddy concert
Tethered hot air balloon rides begin
Dusk – Fireworks
Tuesday, June 28
7 p.m. – Fishers Freedom Festival Children’s Parade at Nickel Plate District Amphitheater