Freedom Fest is still going strong after 23 years. Every parking spot at the Elkin Municipal Park was full forcing people to park along the road and even at Elkin High School as people from in and out of Elkin came together again to celebrate the 4th of July, enjoy some great music, and watch a pyrotechnic fireworks show.
“It’s been a blast. We love the food, the people, the fact that there’s no drinking, fighting, and none of the bad stuff that comes with a lot of these events,” said Kimberly Bates. “We live just down the road so this is where we always come every year.”
Raffle tickets were sold at the Jaycees’ stand for chances to win several prizes, including a gift certificate to Elkin Creek Vineyard, a ticket for a free kayak or canoe rental with Rocky Forest River Run, three sets of movie tickets for Starmount Crossing Cinema, and a 50/50 raffle to be drawn before the fireworks show. The band Big Daddy Mojo entertained the audience throughout the night, and right after sunset, fireworks were launched behind the band stand which lit up the night sky for nearly 20 minutes before finishing off with an explosive finale.
“I think the turnout’s been really good. The crowd just keeps filing in throughout the night,” said Elkin Jaycees Chapter President Lauren Meek. “The set-up went very well. Vendors have been super great to work with and our membership really came out in full force to volunteer this year. Plus we’ve had a few volunteers from Jaycees chapters from across North Carolina.”
“I’m happy to see the Jaycees put this on every year,” said Matthew Doby who was attending with his daughter, Peyton. “Kids are having fun. Everything’s good. I love it because it’s a local event. It’s good to see the community involved. Also my favorite thing is the heat’s not on top of us.”
It was a great time for the kids, too. Inflatable slides, obstacles courses and bounce houses were available for kids. For $5 they could get a wrist band that would give them a full night of bouncing fun. The playground also was packed with children running around and having a blast.
Many food vendors came out to sell dinner, from large organizations such as Pepsi and Pizza Hut to smaller local groups such as the Yadkin Valley Baptist Church whose members sold BBQ with chips and drinks. Guests treated themselves to BBQ, Italian sausage, popcorn, cotton candy, candy apples, and so many more of the classic festival treats.
“We’ve worked the festival before,” said Tim Sales of the Yadkin Valley Baptist Church. “Last year it rained so they had to move the event and we missed our chance to participate in it so we’re glad to be here this year. We love it because of the fellowship and being able to see the people. The Jaycees know how to keep things organized.”
The festival saw hundreds of people come together to mingle with friends and family.
“It’s one of my favorite nights for family. I think it just makes the community stronger and it provides a time for people to meet with each other in the area,” said Jessica Call.
Donna Church, owner of Puppetville.com, sold hand puppets, finger puppets, mechanical stages, and glow sticks to children and families during the evening.
“We’ve been around since 2004,” said Donna Church. “We like supporting the local events and we like that it’s free for most people and they can enjoy the entertainment. It’s nice to sell things that they will be able to afford.”
The Elkin Jaycees have been preparing this year’s Freedom Fest since March. Many of the members came out early Saturday morning to set up the banners and tents as well as work with the fire marshals and the towns people. Many Jaycees volunteers were working throughout the day, working shifts while also taking time to celebrate the holiday.
“My wife and I are both members of the Jaycees so we’re both volunteering,” said Bronson Ericksen. “We rotate shifts on and off throughout the service to make sure at least one of us is watching the kids. My kids are in heaven as long as they can go on the bounce rides.”
Meek thanked everyone for their support and for making the event possible and she is happy to see everyone coming together for the holiday.
“I really like how many people the festival brings out are not just from Elkin but also the surrounding counties. It’s people from different walks of life just coming together for the same reason — to listen to some good music and celebrate the 4th of July. If the Jaycees didn’t do this, then Elkin wouldn’t have a 4th of July celebration. There are certainly other areas people could go to celebrate the 4th, but it’s nice to have something here that our town supports. They financially help with the fireworks show which we’re appreciative of that.”
“I love the Jaycees,” said Bates. “They don’t just support this. They do Christmas organizations, canned food drives, all kinds of stuff. They’re an awesome group of people to be able to pull this off every year. We need fellowship from our people. We need to get to know where our roots come from, what they’re all bout, and what the city’s about.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at336-258-4058.