By Sean Rice
Plans are coming together for a new festival in Celina on Independence Day weekend. Even the name is set: Freedom Days.
Volunteers with the Celina American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars are working with the city recreation department and concert in the park promoters to put on a festival that they hope becomes a tradition in Celina.
Celina City Council member Chris Mohler is on a committee that organizes the concert in the park series that started last year on Sundays on Celina's lakefront. This year the group is booking acts on Saturdays that are geared to a younger crowd than the big band audience on Sundays.
Mohler told a group of volunteers gathered at the Celina American Legion last week that four bands already are booked for July 2 and 3. The Legion and VFW also have booked a laser light show for July 2.
Mohler, Celina Mayor Sharon LaRue and volunteers brain-stormed ideas for the festival while meeting at the Legion. "I can't tell you how excited I am the VFW and Legion decided to get involved," Mohler said, before listing the lineup of bands for the weekend: Flamingo Boulevard and Cadillac Sam on July 2, and Mercer County Community Band and Country Mile on July 3.
So far, VFW post commander Bob Howell said the following events are nearly certain: a beer garden, kids fishing derby, dunk tank, horseshoe contest, melon eating contest, bean bag toss, pig roast and Sunday church service.
"If we do this right, and have fun, I think this will be a tradition that will be carried on for a long time," Howell said. "We just want to have a family picnic so people can come down and have a good time."
Other ideas presented include: a skateboarding demonstration, pie eating contest, egg toss, volleyball, huge bubble-blowing, chicken barbecue, frisbee golf, roving clown, boat parade, face painting and family crafts.
"I'd love to see a greased pig down there," Howell said.
Volunteers will be meeting again at 7 p.m. April 27 at the Legion to organize committees and event leaders.
Proceeds from the festival will go into a fund to support future Freedom Days events, organizers said.