story by Taylor Wheeler | photos submitted by Fort Rucker Freedom Fest
When it comes to celebrating America’s birthday, the Wiregrass does it with a bang. With celebrations occurring in all parts of our area, there are plenty of festivities to choose from. But perhaps the most patriotic celebration of our declaration of independence happens at Fort Rucker’s annual Freedom Fest, held this year on Friday, June 30 from 4pm-10pm at Fort Rucker Festival Fields.
Admission is free to this event, which boasted 20,000 attendees last year. The highpoint of the event will be an impressive patriotic fireworks display. “We will have a spectacular fireworks display set to music,” says Lisa Eichhorn, Fort Rucker Public and Congressional Affairs Officer. “It’s truly one of the best fireworks shows in area.” The 20+ minute showstopper is sure to excite with its impressive colors and sounds, giving visitors “a fantastic aerial fireworks show full of brilliant explosions and light display to celebrate our nations independence,” says Lisa. “The fireworks are spectacular under the Alabama stars.”
In addition to the amazing fireworks display, there will also be plenty of extras to keep the family fun ongoing throughout the event. “We will have food, craft, and merchandise vendors on site,” according to Janice Erdlitz, DFMWR Marketing Director. Funnel cakes, snow cones, cotton candy, fried Oreos, hamburgers, hot dogs, barbeque sandwiches, fried gator, tacos (“and more!” says Janice) will keep you fueled for the festivities. There will also be plenty for the kids to do in the Freedom Fest Children’s Fun Zone filled with inflatables and bounce houses. “There will also be several other carnival type rides and games for families to enjoy from zip lines, balloon dart toss, face painting, and more,” says Janice. (An armband purchase allows kids to take part in the Children’s Fun Zone activities.) When you’ve had your fill of hot dogs and bounce houses, families can chill out and enjoy the entertainment provided. “Families are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to use while enjoying the evening concert by the Maneuver Center of Excellence out of Fort Benning,” says Janice.
A poignant moment of the evening is when Freedom Fest pauses during the celebration to honor those who gave their all for our freedom. The Fort Rucker Survivor Outreach Services program will place a flag for each fallen service member from our local area. “The Field of Flags is visual reminder for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” says Lisa. “Last year, we placed over 400 flags to honor our fallen in Alabama and northwest Florida.” Freedom Fest will also recognize local survivors and honor fallen heroes with a patriotic musical tribute.
“We strive each year to make our Independence Day celebration something the entire community can enjoy,” says Lisa. “This is the one time of the year we are able to give back to our community and say thank you for all the support they give every day to our soldiers and their families.”
A few extra things to remember when planning your trip to Fort Rucker’s Freedom Fest:
VISITOR ACCESS POLICY
- Fort Rucker eagerly looks forward to our community’s attendance at Freedom Fest.
- The security and safety of all attending Freedom Fest is the top priority for the Fort Rucker leadership.
- Unescorted visitors planning to attend Freedom Fest must obtain a Visitor’s Badge from one of our two Visitor Control Centers (VCC) or be escorted on-post by an authorized escort.
- The Visitor Control Centers will not be open on June 30, the day of Freedom Fest. Please plan accordingly.
- The current access policy permits anyone with a valid Common Access Card (CAC), Retiree ID, Military Dependent ID, DA Form 1602 Civilian ID card, or any other U.S. Government issued personal identity verification (PIV) credential to access Fort Rucker without a Visitor’s Badge.
- Of these groups, only Active Duty and Retired U.S. Service Members and their dependents (18 and older), and DA Civilians with a valid DOD-issued ID card may escort un-vetted visitors. Those who escort visitors are vouching for their guests and must escort them everywhere while on-post.
- Our two VCC are located at the Daleville or Ozark gates, and are open between the normal operating hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Additionally, the Daleville gate will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to make it easier to access post on the weekends.
- To obtain a Visitor’s Badge, you’ll need a valid Government-issued picture identification, such as a driver’s license, state-issued ID, or passport. Visitor’s Badges may be issued for up to six months. When accessing Fort Rucker, visitors must present a Visitor Badge and a valid Government-issued picture identification card in order to access Fort Rucker.
- Cell phone use is prohibited when operating a vehicle on post without the use of a hands-free device. Drivers must safely exit the roadway to a hard stand area to use the cell phone if driving without a hands-free device.
- No coolers, tote bags, backpacks or containers are allowed on the grounds except for medical and baby care items.
- Fireworks of any kind are prohibited on post.
- Glass containers are prohibited at the event.
- Pets are not allowed due to safety concerns.
- Weapons of any kind, including guns, knives, mace and “pepper spray” are prohibited.
- No roller blades, bicycles, skateboards or scooters are allowed at the event.
- If there is lightning we ask folks to go to their cars and tune into the Fort Rucker radio am 1640 station or listen to the PA system for more guidance or go to the USAACE and Fort Rucker Facebook site.
- If there is a heavy rain the concert will be moved into the theater.
- If the weather lifts, the fireworks will go on as scheduled.