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August 15, 2020

7/15/2020 11:42:00 AM
Outdoor event proves safe and popular
Freedom Fest 2020
Social distancing was definitely observed at the July 4 “Freedom Fest, as the family above demonstrates siting way back from the stage seen above right of center. Left to right are Christopher Asbury and Allyson, Aaron and Missy Brown. Aaron said he was glad everyone was maintaining a distance as “We care as much about it as everybody.”—Staff Photos by Barbara King
+ click to enlarge
Social distancing was definitely observed at the July 4 “Freedom Fest, as the family above demonstrates siting way back from the stage seen above right of center. Left to right are Christopher Asbury and Allyson, Aaron and Missy Brown. Aaron said he was glad everyone was maintaining a distance as “We care as much about it as everybody.”—Staff Photos by Barbara King
Steve Gasper was one of several organizers for the first-ever Freedom Fest held in celebration of the Fourth at the JC Fairgrounds. The JC Small Business Coalition  will be planning more events in the future.
+ click to enlarge
Steve Gasper was one of several organizers for the first-ever Freedom Fest held in celebration of the Fourth at the JC Fairgrounds. The JC Small Business Coalition will be planning more events in the future.
Organizers for the July 4th Freedom Fest 2020 have summed up the patriotic event as "a great success."

"It was crazy, crazy good," said Steve Gasper, one of the five organizers of the event held at the Jennings County Fairgrounds on America's birthday. The free music and fireworks show was "as good as could be."

The Jennings County Small Business Coalition organized the event after the City of North Vernon and the annual county fair canceled their fireworks and events because of concerns about COVID-19 and social distancing. These two factors also figured prominently as the Freedom Festival unfolded.

"We wanted it to be a good thing," continued Gasper. "People pretty much social distanced. As I looked out from the stage, there were all these groups of families together. It was nice to see."

Three bands shared their talents from 4 p.m. till the fireworks went off at 10:15 in a free show.

Originally, the Coalition planned to bring in nationally known entertainment and include a beer garden; however, concerns about the virus trimmed the event back. "If somebody had gotten sick or if somebody died, it'd be huge on my conscience," he said.

Contributions were collected as people parked, with members of the Kiwanis Club and St. Mary's PTO volunteering for the job. The St. Mary's group brought in $1820.79, which was donated to the JC Community Foundation for school supplies for local kids. It was not know at press time how much the Kiwanis Club collected.

Gasper, who owns Miller's Tavern, worked with Trent Wisner of ETC Systems; Kyle Layman of Layman Fabrication; Doug Gresham of Mr. Beefys; and Bryan Gresham of Miss Piggy's to stage this event.

As for next year, the local entrepreneur said that question remains unanswered.

"We'll keep an open mind about it," he said of the Small Business Coalition. "If we did do it (again), we'll do it bigger and better."





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