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.
The musical lineup
“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.
July 3 features country music, with local group Borderline kick starting the tunes 5-6 p.m. on the main stage.
"They play all kinds of country music that any country fan would recognize,” Steinmann said.
They are followed by recording artist Jamie O’Neal, a singer-songwriter who will perform from 6:30-7:45 p.m. Her debut album, “Shiver,” produced consecutive No. 1 hits in “There Is No Arizona” and “When I Think About Angels,” both of which were nominated for Grammy awards.
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.
Carolina Liar, whose 2008 album “Coming to Terms” was raved about by Rolling Stone magazine, plays 5:45-7 p.m. That initial release featured the hits “”I’m Not Over” and “Show Me What I’m Looking For.”
The band has performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Ellen Degeneres Show and played themselves on an episode of 90210. They also appeared on American Idol, The Hills, The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl.
Vertical Horizon, whose 1999 album “Everything You Want” went double platinum, headlines 8-9:30 p.m. The singles “Save Me From Myself” and “The Lucky Ones,” from their 2009 album “Burning the Days,” both got a lot of radio play.
Fireworks show and carnival rides
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 5-10 p.m. July 2, which is Family Night. 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. A 50 percent discount on ride tickets is available through June 30 at the Renaud Spirit Center and the O’Fallon Parks and Recreation office. Call 636-379-5614 for details.
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.
The Marvelous Mutts, a group of dogs adopted from animal shelters, will defy gravity as they chase after balls and Frisbees and negotiate obstacle courses. They will strut their stuff during shows at 6, 7:30 and 9 p.m. July 3 and 3, 5 and 7 p.m. July 4.
The parade starts at 9:30 a.m. July 4 at Third and Main streets, heads north on Main, then east on Tom Ginnever Avenue and ends at T.R. Hughes Ballpark. The parade has over 90 entries, including the marching bands from Fort Zumwalt North High School and Orchard Farm High School, plus vintage cars, elaborate floats, cheer and dance groups and scout troops.
A free kids’ area with giant inflatables, crafts, a science booth, face painting, a large sandbox and even a chance to learn to hula hoop will be open 5-9:45 p.m. July 3 and noon to 9 p.m. July 4.
While rides and concessions do cost money, the music, other shows and activities are all free.
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.