Food and plenty of fun activities for families are set this weekend in Freetown.
Fireworks, however, won’t be a part of this year’s Freetown July Festival.
The reasons are the fire department no longer has the license to set them off, the field used in the past was sold and the township’s insurance won’t cover a Class C fireworks show.
To fill that void, free glow necklaces and bracelets will be handed out to children at dusk Friday and Saturday evenings.
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Cheryl Long, one of the five members of the festival committee, said all avenues were exhausted to try to get fireworks.
“We are all very disappointed that we couldn’t bring the fireworks back this year,” she said.
This year’s festival kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday with the opening ceremony featuring the Long Family Singers. The ceremony will focus on how the township got its name and how that ties to World War II, and there will be some trivia questions.
“Also we are hoping to present history of the festival itself, as this may be our final festival,” Long said.
“We simply don’t have enough manpower to continue the longstanding tradition, as we are in dire need of about 10 people who would be willing to help, including someone to run the car show, be in charge of advertisement, help with entertainment, the parade, tractor pull and other ideas to grow the festival and restore it back to its former glory,” she said. “The festival played such a wonderful part in people’s childhoods.”
Long said they had an opportunity to get rides for this year’s festival, but they would have had to run the festival Wednesday through Saturday.
“We just couldn’t agree to that with such a small amount of volunteers,” she said. “The decision isn’t set in stone, but I thought it best to let people know that unless 10 people step up, committed to helping run the festival, this is the final one.”
Also Friday, Kids’ Alley will be open from 7 to 9 p.m. with games and activities for children, and they can participate in a pedal tractor pull at 7 p.m.
Justyn Underwood will perform onstage starting at 7:15 p.m., and then open karaoke is from 9 to 10 p.m.
Saturday’s lineup begins with the Pershing Township Volunteer Fire Departments’ 5K run/walk at 8 a.m., followed by a tractor drive at 9 a.m. and a baby contest at 9:30 a.m.
Kids’ Alley is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.
Onstage will be learning how to line dance at 11 a.m., Country Kickers at 11:45 a.m., Stuck on the Bullet at 2 p.m., Scarlet2white at 3 p.m., Long Family Singers at 4 p.m., Don Pedigo at 5 p.m., open karaoke at 6:30 p.m. and a karaoke contest at 7:30 p.m.
There will be limited seating around the stage, so people are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.
The festival parade will travel through town at 1 p.m. with town historians Russell and Donna Fritz serving as parade marshals.
“They were chosen because of their desire to keep the town’s memories alive,” Long said.
Also Saturday, an auction will be at the fire department at 4 p.m.
Both days of the festival, the fire department will sell food, including hamburgers, hot dogs, chili, nachos, homemade desserts and drinks. On Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m., there also will be a fish fry, a hog roast and taco salads.
Plus, a pictorial display will be available for people to view in the fire station both days.
Long said the festival dates back to the late 1800s. The park was purchased in the late 1930s specifically for the festival, and it was conducted on the Fourth of July for many years. The festival stopped at one point until being revived 13 years ago by the fire department.
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Freetown July Festival
6 p.m.: Opening ceremony with the Long Family Singers
6:30 p.m.: Pedal tractor pull registration (basketball court)
7 to 9 p.m.: Kids’ Alley games and activities
7 p.m.: Pedal tractor pull
7:15 to 9 p.m.: Justyn Underwood
9 to 10 p.m.: Open karaoke
8 a.m.: Pershing Township Volunteer Fire Department 5K run/walk (fire station; $25 entry fee)
9 a.m.: Baby contest registration (birth to 36 months; $5 per category)
9 a.m.: Tractor drive (ball diamond)
9:30 a.m.: Baby contest
10 a.m. to 9 p.m.: Kids’ Alley games and activities
11 a.m.: You Can Dance line dancing lessons
11:45 a.m.: Country Kickers
1 p.m.: Parade
2 p.m.: Stuck on the Bullet
3 p.m.: Scarlet2white
4 p.m.: Auction (fire station)
4 p.m.: Long Family Singers
5 p.m.: Don Pedigo
6:30 p.m.: Open karaoke
7 p.m.: Karaoke contest registration ($5 entry fee for ages 13 and up; $2 for ages 12 and under)
7:30 p.m.: Karaoke contest
10 p.m.: Festival ends
Throughout the festival, food will be available for purchase at the fire station. Friday’s menu includes hamburgers, hot dogs, chili, nachos, homemade desserts and drinks. Saturday will feature the same menu along with a fish fry and a hog roast starting at 10 a.m. and taco salads sold by the ladies auxiliary in the cafeteria.