Goreville Freedom Fest provides full day of features, fun
With just a week to go before Goreville kicks off its annual Fourth of July celebration, now in its third year as an all-day event called Freedom Fest, committee members responsible for its production are encouraged by the favorable response the new times and increased activities are drawing.
In wanting to put together a festival that brought people to town and kept them busy from dawn to dusk, the most noticeable change this year is the 4 p.m. start time for the parade down Broadway.
“Previously the parade began around 1 p.m. and not only split up the day, it was the hottest part of the day,” said Freedom Fest committee chairman, Dusty Lingle. “The new time allows for a smoother transition from the parade into the evening concerts and fireworks,” added Lingle.
“It also allows people who have family reunions, picnics and celebrations of their own to enjoy their afternoon and still have time to be in Goreville for the parade and fireworks,” he said.
Fireworks in Vienna
The City of Vienna will host a free fireworks display on July 4th at the Vienna ballfields starting at dusk.
For those looking to make an entire day out of it, the lineup of activities begin with a 5K run/walk in its second year as a new addition to the festival with a registration start time of 6:30 a.m. followed by the race an hour later. Runners will be bussed to Ferne Clyffe State Park and “enjoy a beautiful and complex course” as they race back to Goreville, said Jason Beckmann, committee vice-chairman.
“We’re still busy cleaning up the park, removing limbs from the race course and still have setup to look forward to,” said Beckmann. “There’s just a lot of little stuff to finish, but we’re excited and we’re ready.”
Lingle agreed, praising city workers Mike Green and Sam Mighell for their extra efforts in preparing the village for the celebrations ahead. Lingle said the committee is hoping to have the park pavilion painted and will continue clean up of the area preparing for vendors and the public alike.
“It’s amazing how fast everything can come together,” said Lingle. “Starting next week I’ll take off from my day job and we’ll be working through the nights and behind the scenes on getting everything in order for show time on Wednesday.”
Show time will continue after the runners wrap up the morning with a one-mile children’s fun run followed by a car show, afternoon gospel concerts, cloggers, games, food vendors, the parade and an evening concert featuring the Cache River Band.
“The Cache River Band has a fairly large following throughout Johnson County and will pack the park,” said Beckmann. Advertized as “one of Southern Illinois’ favorite Outlaw Country Rock Bands,” the group is made up of Johnson County natives Steve Jones, Kevin Breeden, Jeff Mears, Jeff Landis and Greg Hubbs and is scheduled to take the stage around 7 p.m.
A full list of events, times and locations can be found online at the festival’s new website, GorevilleFreedomFest.com, where visitors can register online for the 5K run, purchase Freedom Fest T-shirts and donate to support the committee’s ongoing efforts to make the event bigger and better next year, said Lingle.
“We’re trying to get the community much more involved early on, asking not only for kind-hearted donations, but also suggestions in ways we can make the event better in order to keep it alive and strong,” said Lingle. “The community’s response is most often the acknowledgements after the event; it’s the pats on the backs and the hand shakes, we just get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing it all come together.”
Touted as one of the biggest fireworks displays for small towns in Southern Illinois, the evening is capped off around dusk with a crowd-pleasing, patriotic display of gunpowder lighting up the night sky and free to all. Parking in Goreville will be limited as more than 3,500 people are expected to fill the lots, yards and city sidewalks joining together in celebrating the nation’s birth and the community’s Freedom Fest festival.