St. Clair Parks and Recreation Board members remain excited about the new events that will be part of this year’s Freedom Fest, which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, June 21-22, at Orchard Park.
Many of the old mainstays remain as well.
“There are going to be so many things to do,” park board President Linda Luetje-Nelson said. “It’s going to be a fun-packed weekend with a variety of events for people of all ages.”
Freedom Fest is St. Clair’s annual Independence Day celebration. It will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 21, with the Kiddie Parade and conclude after dark on Saturday, June 22, with the fireworks show. A couple of years ago, Friday events were added to expand the party, and that schedule has become fuller this year.
“We really want to make Freedom Fest a great time for everyone,” Luetje-Nelson said. “We keep looking at ways to expand it, and we’re trying some new things again this year to see how they do. We think everyone will have a great time, and we encourage people to show up and spend the weekend at the park.”
For the first time, everything will be at Orchard Park this year. Previously, Friday events were at Evergreen Park.
New activities in 2013 include a greased pig competition on Friday and an air guitar contest on Saturday. Both are for children. A car-smash booth also will be set up throughout the day on Saturday where individuals can swing a sledgehammer at an old vehicle for $1. In addition, a local band, Loose Change, will perform on Friday night.
“We really think this year’s Freedom Fest is going to be a good, old-time country event,” Luetje-Nelson said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. There will be something for everyone. We’re very excited with how it’s all shaping up.”
The greased pig event at 6:30 p.m. on Friday will be divided into different age groups. The air guitar contest scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday will feature two age groups, 5-8 and 9-12. Only the first five contestants who sign up for the air guitar competition on Saturday will be allowed to participate.
The festival also will include many of the traditional mainstays, such as food and other vendor booths, the kiddie parade, pageant, turtle races, watermelon and hot dog eating contests, the nickel-in-the-haystack game, backseat driver competition and the fireworks. Some vendors will be bringing games for children to play.
Children who wish to participate in the kiddie parade are reminded to decorate their bikes, trikes or scooters in traditional red, white and blue colors and be at Orchard Park by 5:45 p.m. on Friday. No pets will be allowed.
The St. Clair High School cheerleaders are scheduled to perform a routine at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon during the pageant. Crownings are set for 6 p.m., and the contestants will walk around the festival area afterward collecting donations that will help offset the cost of the festival.
The SCHS Air Force Junior ROTC will open the event at noon by presenting the colors. State Rep. Dave Hinson of St. Clair is scheduled to speak.
The annual 5-kilometer Freedom Fest run will take off from Orchard Park at about 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. This is the 10th year for that event.
At least 40 booths are expected during Saturday’s festival, which is in line with the number in past years.
“This is a great opportunity for people to stay here and have a lot of fun,” Luetje-Nelson said. “There will be delicious food to eat, things to look at and do ... it’s just going to be a great time.”
Mayor Ron Blum declared Orchard Park a festival district for both Friday and Saturday. That means no pets of any kind or alcohol will be allowed on the premises.
Following is the schedule for the 2013 St. Clair Freedom Fest on June 21-22 at Orchard Park:
•6 p.m. — Kiddie Parade.
•6:30 p.m. — Turtle races.
•6:30 p.m. — Greased pig competition.
•7-10 p.m. — Loose Change performs.
•7:30 a.m. — 5-kilometer run.
•9 a.m. — Booth setup.
•Noon — Opening ceremonies.
•12:30 p.m. — Air guitar contest.
•2 p.m. — Pageant.
•4 p.m. — SCHS cheerleader demonstration.
•4 p.m. — Watermelon eating contest.
•4:30 p.m. — Hot dog eating contest.
•5 p.m. — Nickel in a haystack event.
•5:45 p.m. — Daddy and Me dance-off.
•6 p.m. — Pageant crownings.
•6 p.m. — Backseat driving competition.
•9:30 p.m. — Fireworks.
•All day — Car smash event and vendor booths open.