ORANGE BEACH – The Orange Beach Freedom Fest that debuted in 2021 as a one-day event on short notice will return in 2022 for a full weekend, Mayor Tony Kennon said.
Freedom Fest began as a last-minute event after the National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores was canceled due to concerns over COVID-19. This year, the event will be a prologue for the Gulf Shores festival, Kennon said.
“We’re going to do it again. It’s an annual event,” Kennon said at the city’s annual Town Hall meeting. “This coming year, it will be, hopefully, three days. It will be Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct. 2. We will book in with Shrimp Festival with it being the second weekend. Same type of thing – arts, crafts, food, hopefully a large car show, music and without our sponsors, it won’t happen. But this past year, without our sponsors that stepped up in that short period of time, it would not have happened.”
Kennon said local sponsors helped make the event happen. He said planning for the event began on very short notice after the 2021 Shrimp Festival, scheduled for Oct. 7 through Oct. 10, was called off due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
“Last year, at the last minute, Shrimp Festival was canceled, and we decided to try to fill the void,” Kennon said. “So, in three weeks’ time, we threw together the Freedom Fest. It turned out to be a beautiful day. We had well over 10,000 people come through The Wharf on a single-day event.”
Kennon praised city staff members for their work in getting the event organized on short notice.
“We made that happen in three weeks. I didn’t say anything but say ‘let’s do it.’ They figured it out,” Kennon said.
At the time of the first Freedom Fest, Kennon said the event was also intended to allow area arts and crafts vendors who had planned to take part in Shrimp Festival to display and sell their work.
The mayor said the festival will continue to use the red, white and blue patriotic emblem designed for the 2021 event.
At the Orange Beach annual Town Hall meeting on Feb. 22, city officials recognized the sponsors of the 2021 event for their support.
Among the supporters recognized were Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Tourism, The Flora-Bama, The Wharf, Zeke’s, Beach Ball Properties, Gulf Coast Rentals, OB Family Dentistry, Advanced Carpet Cleaning, Kasey Harris-Brett Robinson, Coastal Alabama Insurance, The Beach Moms, Bailey Stitt-Merrill Lynch, Steward Construction, ATA Loss Consulting, Go Time Travel, Republic Services, Pepsi, Jeannie Fitzgibbons and city employees and departments.