Welcome to the 2022 Vets Freedom Fest. This is our 4th year and there is excitement as the festival draws near. You can help by coming to the festival and enjoying a delicious BBQ dinner or by donating using the link on this site.
The first festival was held in 2018 which would have made 2022 our 5th festival. However 2019 was skipped because of the COVID 19 virus, so that leaves us with the 4th festival being held in 2022.
Origin of Freedom Fest
Our festival to recognize and honor veterans came as an outgrowth of the annual “Festival of Freedom” in Elkton, VA that honors veterans by giving them a free dinner.
Ed Hager, who does a lot of cooking for Evangelical United Methodist Church in Elkton was talking with his pastor, David Vaughan, when they heard the phrase, “We don’t know them all, but we owe them all.” They decided that they would start an event to honor veterans and provide them and their families a free meal as a way of thanking them for their service.
Because of family connections to the church in Virginia, my wife Beatrice, and myself along with Pastor Willie McKinnon, traveled to Elkton to volunteer at their event. We worked and became inspired by the response of the veterans that attended.
After hearing of this, the congregation of Hillcrest Baptist Church of Palatka, decided to start a similar project for veterans in Putnam County.
After several months of planning, fundraising, and gathering food and supplies, on April 28, 2018, the first Freedom Fest was held at the Putnam County Fair and Expo facility. All attending veterans and their families were given free meals of Bar-B-Que pork or beef with all the trimmings.
There were singers to entertain and inspire, a street-rod and classic car display, and children’s activities with sno-cones, fire engines, and a jump house. Drawings were held and donated prizes were given away.
More importantly, There were information booths set up by local veterans service organizations to bring information about opportunities for services and benefits to them.
Thanks to the sponsors donations, and meals sold to the public, we have been able to gift over $17,000 to the American Legion to help them construct wheelchair ramps and other projects for veterans. We plan to make this an annual event to give something back to our veterans, to thank them for the what they have done for our country.
Freedom Fest, Chairman