When Pastor Rob Jeffrey and his Bradford Alliance Church staff saw the large amount of families who showed up for last year’s Freedom Fest, they knew they had to host the event again.
This year’s Freedom Fest is slated to be held once again from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday on the church grounds at 240 Minard Run Road and is free and open to the community. The event will include free food, games and fun before the fireworks show at nearby Pennhills Club on Minard Run, which can be viewed from the church.
Jeffrey decided to hold the festival last year after noticing cars parked along Minard Run Road in prior years that had stopped near the church to watch the annual fireworks show at Pennhills. Two years ago church staff invited people in parked cars to watch the show from their parking lot, and last year they carried their invitation a step further by hosting the festival.
As it turned out, the event was a huge success.
Church secretary Jill Ivanich said last year’s event, despite threats of rain, attracted approximately 300 people.
“It was icky downtown and raining and stuff, but the weather held up here,” Ivanich recalled. “It was like we had an open space and God helped us.”
She said family-friendly activities will once again include a bounce house, shooting basketballs, horseshoes and corn hole games.
“We’re also adding some new games this year,” she added. Food such as hot dogs, chips and bottled water will also be provided. A campfire to toast marshmallows and make smores will also be provided.
Jeffrey admitted that there were so many people last year that the church ran out of food.
“We’re stocked up for more food and more games and we’re praying for good weather,” Jeffrey commented. “It was a fantastic time and that’s why we’re doing it again this year.”
He said a new event for this year will be the watermelon-eating contest.
“We were trying to come up with some retro things” from the past, he explained.
“People can bring blankets and chairs (to watch the fireworks) and friends, and just enjoy a free evening on us,” Jeffrey added. He said donations are not expected during the event.
“We will not turn any (donations of money or food) down, but nothing is expected,” Jeffrey stated. “We just want to bless Bradford and the local area.”
Church member Bonnie Leposa said she and her husband, Tom, were also surprised at last year’s turnout.
“We never thought we would have so many people show up,” she remarked. “It was great having so many families there, having fun, laughing and playing together. It was such a blessing to the church to be able to facilitate the event.”