Friday’s portion of St. Clair’s annual Freedom Fest celebration is shaping up to be a fun-filled kickoff to the two-day event.
Freedom Fest, the city’s annual Independence Day celebration, is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, June 21-22. All events will take place at Orchard Park.
In past years, Friday’s portion of the party has been at Evergreen Park and included a kiddie parade and free swim with snacks provided to all who attended. This year, one of the festival’s most popular attractions has been moved to Friday night and a new event that promises to be a barn-full of fun has been added as well.
“We’re really trying to make this a fun two-day celebration,” said Barb McGlenn, Ward 2 alderman who is the city’s liaison with the St. Clair Parks and Recreation Board. “We’re really trying to get people to come both Friday and Saturday.”
The kiddie parade still will open the festival at 6 p.m. on that first day. Children who decorate their bicycles, tricycles or other modes of nonmotorized transportation will parade around the walking trail at Orchard Park. Prizes will be awarded to the best dressed vehicles and riders.
At 6:30 p.m., turtle races and a greased pig competition are scheduled. McGlenn said she has confirmed use of 21 pigs, and the event will be split into several age categories, with the youngest being 5-year-olds. There will be prizes for winners.
The turtle races are a Freedom Fest mainstay but are being moved to Friday to draw additional interest to the first night and because Saturday’s schedule is full.
From 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, local band Loose Change will perform at the park.
Free hot dogs and popcorn will be served.
“We are all excited about the expanded activities on Friday night,” Park Board President Linda Luetje-Nelson said. “Barb has been instrumental in implementing these activities, and we thank her for her hard work.”
During their March and April meetings, park board members also solidified a schedule for Saturday’s events, though it still could change.
The festival’s second day is scheduled to start at noon with opening ceremonies, and booth vendors and other event sponsors may start setting up at 9 a.m. Vendor sites will be determined by park board members.
At 2 p.m., the Freedom Fest pageant returns after a one-year absence. At 4 p.m., a watermelon-eating contest is scheduled, followed at 4:30 by the nickel-in-the-haystack children’s event.
At 5 p.m., a hot dog eating contest is on tap with a new event, an air-guitar contest, scheduled for 6 p.m. The adult backseat driving race will take place at 6:30 p.m.
Park board members also are considering a car smash throughout the day to help raise money. For $1, interested individuals can use a sledgehammer to take a whack at an old, junked vehicle.
At dusk, the city’s annual fireworks celebration will conclude the festival. Lantis Fireworks of Eureka has promised a show similar to last year’s.
Last year, Lantis sent a proposal to the city to provide another extended show featuring more firepower at a discounted price. In 2012, the longer, more brilliant sky display occurred because the majority of the show was washed out by inclement weather in 2011, and Eureka Fireworks said it wanted to make amends.
City Administrator, Rick Childers said the Lantis proposal is “essentially the same show as this year at the same price.”
Included will be 410 3-inch aerial shells, 250 4-inch aerial shells, 18 Roman candles and a variety of other multi-shot florals and ground effects. The show should last about 16-18 minutes.
Last year, board members unanimously approved the motion to spend $4,500 on the 2013 fireworks display. Lantis stated in its proposal that the value for this quality of a display is $6,000.
Booth spaces are available for $40 for sales booths and $20 for an information booth. Electricity will cost $20 extra per booth. If any vendor wants extra 20-amp circuits, they will cost an additional $60 each.
New this year will be a walking vendor category for $10 per lanyard.
Childers told board members last month that vendors are starting to turn in their applications. Vendors will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
Vendors wishing to sell food items must submit complete menu at the time of their application. Only one type of food item will be allowed to be sold during the festival.
No drinks can be sold this year. The park board has secured a sponsorship from Pepsi of New Haven, and all liquid refreshments, including water, will be available through the park board only.
Last year, there were about 40 vendors.
There will not be a carnival this year.
After a one-year absence, the Freedom Fest Pageant returns in 2013 and will take place on the stage area of Orchard Park beginning at 2 p.m. on June 22.
The event is open to girls ages newborn to 20 and boys ages newborn to 8. The contestant fee is $50 through June 10 and $75 from June 11-15. Entries will not be accepted after June 15.
The competition is a “natural fund-raiser pageant providing a way to help the community’s youth, show support for those who serve or have served our great country and build confidence,” literature about the event states. Girls and boys do not have to be St. Clair or Franklin County residents.
Division winners will receive a crown and embroidered sash. Girls divisions are Wee Baby Miss (0-6 months), Tiny Baby Miss (7-13 months), Baby Miss (14-23 months), Toddler Miss (age 2), Tiny Miss (age 3), Petite Miss (4-5 years), Little Miss (6-8 years), Junior Miss (9-12 years), Teen Miss (13-16 years) and Miss (17-20 years). Boys divisions are Baby Mister (0-12 months), Tiny Mister (1-3 years) and Little Mister (4-8 years).
Applications are available on the city’s website, www.stclairmo.com.
“I just truly feel that as long as I can attempt to help I will,” pageant Director Dana Collins-Messex said. “As long as I can plant a seed in the minds of any parent or child who take part in my pageants that no matter the age there is ways you can help others and make a difference, then I have accomplished teaching them that being pretty is about more than having a crown and perfect hair. It’s about giving back.”
Wee Baby through Miss Teen divisions should wear appropriate Independence Day attire but no gowns. Boys in all divisions also should wear red, white and blue clothing. In addition, no fake hair or eyelashes may be worn, and heavy makeup is prohibited.
Children in the smaller divisions will not be expected to do anything while competing other than showcase their personalities. Petite Miss and older contestants will be asked a question on stage as part of their score.
All contestants are asked to raise $10 that will be donated to the St. Clair American Legion.
“One of the things that my pageants are all about is giving back to the community,” Collins-Messex said. “There is no profit made by myself or anyone else who helps. This is our way to involve the youth in making a difference in their lives and others as well as the importance to be beautiful on the inside as well as the outside.”
A few optional categories also may be entered.
For more information on the pageant, contact Collins-Messex at 636-584-9650 or assistant director Robin Benton at 636-357-3790. Both also can be reached by email at email@example.com.