DARLINGTON, S.C. – The sixth annual Darlington Chamber of Commerce Freedom Fest will take place on Saturday, June 29, at the Darlington Raceway.
The event, celebrating the Fourth of July, is from 5 to 10 p.m. Admission is free, but there will be a $1 charge for parking.
“It just gets bigger every year,” said Harriet Hobbs, president of the Darlington Chamber of Commerce.
She the idea for the Fourth of July celebration came out of one of their chamber board meetings.
“It started out small, but it has grown exponentially,” she said.
Last year approximately 20,000 people attended the event.
“They came from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Florida,” Hobbs said. “They came from all over.”
Hobbs said Freedom Fest is a very family-friendly and affordable event. With a dollar charge for parking, she said people can load up an SUV with 10 people and get in for $1.
She said approximately 25 merchandize vendors have signed up to come and equally as many food vendors. They are coming from as far away as Virginia.
“We have made sure food vendors are cognizant of the fact that this is a family event,” Hobbs said. She said they will be offering small menu items for children such as sliders.
Hobbs said they chose the evening hours to make sure adults and children will have fun and not in the heat of the day.
The food vendors will be set up under the covered garage area, she said. Tables will be available for guests to sit and enjoy their food.
No coolers or pets are allowed, but guests can bring their lounge chairs and set up in front of the band stage, enjoy the music as they wait for the largest fireworks display in the Pee Dee, Hobbs said.
The band, Johnny Glenn and the Chasers of Lugoff, will perform.
The group has performed previously at Freedom Fest.
“They have a huge following in Florence,” Hobbs said.
The orchestration of fireworks will begin after dark and should last roughly 20 minutes, Hobbs said.
Fireworks are being furnished by Pyrotecnico, a professional fireworks company.
There will be carnival and amusement type rides for all ages.
“We were not able to get the car show this year,” she said.
Hobbs said the event takes place in a fenced in area with security. She said it is a safe environment for children.
The band sponsor is Patriot Chevrolet, and Pee Dee Food Service is the hospitality sponsor. The event is hosted by the chamber, the city of Darlington and Darlington County.
Hobbs said Freedom Fest brings a lot of tourists to the Pee Dee. She said they stay in Hartsville and Florence. The vendors come in on Friday, Hobbs said. Since the event is not over until late Saturday night, most will that night in the area, too, she said.
Hobbs envisions Freedom Fest continuing to grow as the Fourth of July event in the Pee Dee event.
“We would love to have Florence as a partner,” Hobbs said. “I look as Darlington as a sister community.”
Hobbs said Darlington is a quiet, Southern town that livens up on the Saturday before the Fourth of July.