Nationally known musical performers, a parade with two marching bands, spectacular fireworks, marvelous mutts and plenty of carnival rides and food highlight the O’Fallon Heritage and Freedom Fest July 2-4 at the Ozzie Smith Sports Complex.
The free festival, in its 32nd year, keeps growing and improving, particularly because of the national acts and the fireworks.
“We have an absolutely amazing lineup this year, and I think we’re going to have a really great crowd because of it,” said Festival Coordinator Megan Steinmann. “They’re all really great entertainers, and they’re all relevant. A lot of people are really excited that they can come out and see bands that they hear on the radio every day, and they don’t have to pay anything for it.”
July 3 features country music, with local group Borderline kick starting the tunes 5-6 p.m. on the main stage. They are followed by recording artist Jamie O’Neal, a singer-songwriter who will perform from 6:30-7:45 p.m. David Nail, who earned a 2011 Grammy nomination for his song “Turning Home,” headlines 8:45-10:15 p.m.
The rockers take over July 4, beginning with two sets from local group Fat Pocket from 2:15-3:15 p.m. and 3:45 to 4:45 p.m.
“They are super fun,” Steinmann said. “They play kind of a mix of pop and funky music. They’re just a blast.”
Carolina Liar, whose 2008 album “Coming to Terms” was raved about by Rolling Stone magazine, plays 5:45-7 p.m. Vertical Horizon, whose 1999 album “Everything You Want” went double platinum, headlines 8-9:30 p.m.
The Jena “Dusty” Mielke Fireworks Spectacular will follow the headliners each night, with 15 minutes of pyrotechnic pizzazz starting at 10:15 p.m. July 3 and a 25-minute display beginning at 9:30 p.m. July 4. The fireworks, sponsored by OneMain Financial, are named in memory of long-time Heritage and Freedom Festival coordinator Mielke, who passed away in 2009.
Carnival rides and Midway games and food get the party started from 5-10 p.m. Unlimited ride wristbands can be purchased for $20, and the rides will include a Ferris wheel, The Scrambler, huge slides, a fun house and more. There will be rides appropriate for all ages, from young children to adults.
Ticket booths will be located throughout the festival grounds.
The carnival food includes burgers, hot dogs, funnel cakes, cotton candy and such nouveau fair fare as chocolate-covered bacon and deep-fried Oreos and cheesecake. Beverages include soda, water, lemonade, smoothies and Miller beer products.
“People really love the event, and they love that they can come out and not have to spend a lot of money,” Steinmann said.
The festival is open 5-10 p.m. July 2, 5-11 p.m. July 3 and noon to 10 p.m. July 4. It is located at the Ozzie Smith Sports Complex. There are two parking options -- $5 for premium parking at T.R. Hughes Stadium west lot, or free parking with regular shuttles to the festival grounds at Fort Zumwalt North High School and Christian High School.