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Home / Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival returning with in-person, online mix
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival is coming back with a bang and a splash this summer, organizers announced Thursday.
About the only things that happened in-person last year in the iconic annual community celebration were the Medallion Hunt and the pancake breakfast, which flipped to a drive-through format outside the ImOn Ice Arena.
They are returning, joined by several other signature events, building up to the July 4 finale fireworks downtown.
The choreographed fireworks show, a victim of the pandemic last summer, is scheduled from 7 to 10:30 p.m. July 4. As before, the fireworks will be shot off from the First Avenue Bridge and spectators with Freedom Festival buttons will be let on to the Second Avenue Bridge. However, capacity may be limited.
Among the first events to fire up the festival will be Balloon Glow, bringing a record 10 tethered hot-air balloons on June 22 to Hawkeye Downs. Alisabeth Von Presley will rock the stage that night. Admission will be limited, with advance reservations requested. Details on ticket packages will be released beginning Monday on the festival’s website, freedomfestival.com/events.
DockDogs, aquatic competitions perennially popular with pooches and people, will be pooling on the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library grounds from June 24 to 27.
A walk-through parade will follow the Downtown Farmers Market footprint on June 26.
Before all that happens, intrepid detectives can comb the area for a prize medallion that comes with a $500 Hy-Vee gift card reward. The annual Medallion Hunt launches Monday and runs through June 2. The 4-inch acrylic disc with the festival logo will be hidden on public property. One clue per day will be revealed on the festival’s Facebook page and website, freedomfestival.com, as well on KCRG-TV9 and Z102.9 radio.
On June 14 and 15, the public can watch as local artists gather at the Jones Park Lagoon Pavilion for a Log Carving Demonstration, turning derecho wood remnants into works of art. As the pieces are completed, they’ll be added to an online silent auction fundraiser going live Monday at 32auctions.com/freedomfestival.
The auction isn’t the only online event. The Pork Tornadoes will perform a virtual Music at the Museum concert July 3 via Facebook. Other events also will be offered online.
“Our goal this year is to provide the community a good mix of programming that reflects a safe return to live events,” Karol Shepherd, the festival’s executive director, said in a statement.
“We will have a mix of in-person programming, but also will incorporate some online components — where those that don’t feel comfortable gathering can still experience the festival,” she said, citing the Tribute to Heroes, Flag Retirement and Balloon Glow among the online offerings.
Freedom Festival buttons will go on sale May 28, for $5 at Cedar Rapids and Marion Hy-Vee Food & Drugstores, as well as Casey’s General Stores. Use the Deetz app to unlock Button Benefits during the festival.
Details on each event will be finalized in the coming weeks, Shepherd noted, and will follow guidelines and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the city of Cedar Rapids and Linn County Public Health. For information and event updates, go to freedomfestival.com/events.
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