CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Organizers of the Freedom Festival announced April 21 that the 2020 festival will be canceled, due to coronavirus concerns.
“In the 37 years of our Festival, we’ve not ever had to have the heavy conversations that we have had over the last few weeks; taking into consideration the latest news of COVID-19 and the impact it is making on our community,” organizers noted on the festival’s website.
“Because of the continuation of social distancing and precautions taking place to further prevent the spread of COVID-19, and with recommendations by both the Linn County Public Heath Department and the City of Cedar Rapids Mayor, it is with a heavy heart that we announce that the 2020 Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival has been CANCELLED.”
Noting that the Freedom Festival is a nonprofit, the organization cited financial challenges. Buttons that have already been produced will still be for sale at Hy-Vee stores for $5 each, and while buyers won’t be able to use them to get into events next year, proceeds will help support the organization and the return of the festival from June 17 to July 4, 2021.
In the meantime, organizers are working on a Virtual Freedom Festival Calendar of Events. The two-week festival typically takes place from mid-June through July 4.
Some events, such as the Freedom Festival fireworks, attract crowds of 15,000 people. The annual Freedom Festival parade is another event that attracts thousands of spectators and participants.
Iowa hit another record high number of COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, April 21, with 482 new confirmed cases, surpassing the previous high of Sunday, April 19, of 389 new cases, and bringing the state’s total to 3,641. Another four deaths also were reported Tuesday, bringing Iowa’s total to 83, and underscoring organizers’ concerns.
Learn more about the announcement from the Freedom Festival:
Due to the continuation of social distancing and precautions taking place to further prevent the spread of COVID-19, the 2020 Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival has been cancelled.
Freedom Festival Executive Director Carissa Johnson states, “It’s difficult to anticipate what the public health horizon will look like in June when the annual Festival events would normally begin. After consultation with the Mayor of Cedar Rapids and the Linn County Public Health Department, we are making the conservative decision to cancel all 2020 Freedom Festival produced events.”
The Freedom Festival is a 501c3 non-profit organization that is responsible for producing events like the Tribute to Heroes Dinner, Balloon Glow, Parade, dockdogs, Freedom Bike Ride, Pancake Breakfast, & Celebration of Freedom 4th of July Fireworks.
“Freedom Festival is a long-standing tradition in Cedar Rapids that brings our citizens and visitors together to enjoy our community and celebrate our country’s freedoms” reflects Cedar Rapids Mayor, Brad Hart. “This year’s festival will yield to the safety of our community due to the coronavirus, but I’m certain Freedom Festival 2021 will be the biggest and best yet. I’m already looking forward to it!”
Linn County Board of Supervisors, Ben Rogers adds “We know this was a very difficult decision for the Freedom Festival board and staff to make. It’s one on a long list of difficult decisions that have been made in the last several weeks. We also know that our community is resilient. We will get through this. The Freedom Festival has long been a signature event in our community, and we know it will return.”
Commemorative 2020 Freedom Festival buttons will be available for purchase beginning May 1st. Cost is $5 per button available at all Hy-Vee Food & Drug Store locations (Cedar Rapids/Marion). To ensure the Festival’s longevity and ability to return in 2021, the community is encouraged to show support through the purchase of a button—this will help offset the costs of pre-paid Festival event preparations and to cover button packet expenses.
“We thank our community and our sponsors for your continued loyalty and dedication to the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival as we navigate uncharted territory,” said Freedom Festival Board President Jill Costigan. “We are exploring ways the community can still enjoy Freedom Festival Events virtually for the 2020 Festival – utilizing video, Facebook Live, and other options. We look forward to sharing these plans as they develop.”
We hope to see the entire community (safely) for the 38th Annual Festival—returning June 17th – July 4th , 2021! For more information and to receive the most up to date information on button sales, virtual celebration plans, and affiliated events, please follow the Freedom Festival on Facebook and at FreedomFestival.com
Related: RAGBRAI 2020 suspended