In the final days before its scheduled opening, the organizers of the first-ever Kansas FreedomFest say momentum continues to build.
Hope Corizzo, one of the two directors of the festival that was developed from an idea by the American Legion Post 23, said she and Keira Jones have been all but “camped out” at 10th Avenue Park, the site of the festival that begins at 5 p.m. Friday with a vintage car and motorcycle show and a regional music showcase. Saturday will be the centerpiece of the event, with community activities between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and a benefit concert from 1 to 10 p.m. featuring performances by the Marshall Tucker Band, Aaron Tippin and headlined by country star Clay Walker.
“We're ready,” she said, with 16 buses ready to shuttle festival-goers to and from the designated parking spots to the festival site.
Corizzo said organizers are now expecting about 10,000 people to visit the festival during the two days before Veterans Day.
The festival, the stated purpose of which is to raise funds and awareness for veterans' issues and organizations, has picked up even more steam in the last few weeks. Corizzo said organizers are now partnering with Heart to Heart International and will donate $5 of the price of every general admission ticket to victims of superstorm Sandy that struck population centers in the East Coast last week.
“We're hoping to write a really big check,” she said, to help the victims of the storm.
The partnership has caused interest in the festival to tick up, Corizzo said. But more importantly, she said it fits with the festival's overall theme.
“That was a big plank for the festival, to partner with all these organizations that work in the community,” Corizzo said.
Proceeds from the festival will also benefit organizations like Operation Comfort Warrior. Corizzo said the first 50 concertgoers to donate a toy worth $20 or more to Toys for Tots will receive a VIP wrist band, entitling them to preferred seating at the show. The same goes for the first 50 ticketholders who donate a wreath for Wreaths Across America.
The event itself will include a “community night” from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday in which the festival grounds will be open to the public and no admission charged. On the grounds will be vendors, KC Food Trucks and the juried car and motorcycle show. At 6 p.m., the “Salute Showdown” begins, with six different musical acts in a 90-minute band scramble competing for an opening slot at the next day's benefit concert. Other musical performances will close out the night.
The festivities begin again at 10 a.m. Saturday, with vendors, food, demonstrations and children's activities open until 5 p.m. Gates for the concert will open for ticketholders at 1 p.m. and the concert will begin at 1:40 p.m. A series of musical acts will follow, with Clay Walker closing out the festivities starting at 8:30 p.m. Corizzo said those attending the concert should bring blankets or beach chairs but leave their coolers at home.
Corizzo said until Friday, concertgoers can get tickets to the show for $20 by visiting Kansas Country Store, the Exchange Bank location in Lansing or www.kansasfreedomfest.com. After
then, she said the tickets will cost $30.
“We're looking to have a really good time, it's going to be a lot of fun,” she said.