The inaugural N.C. Freedom Fest kicks off Friday night with Grub at the Hub, and the fun continues Saturday with activities for all ages and the popular Wings of Wayne wing-cookoff contest.
Doug McGrath, Freedom Fest president, said he expects up to 8,000 people to attend the Saturday festival in downtown Goldsboro.
“I think a realistic goal is between 2,000 and 4,000 people to attend Grub at the Hub on Friday night and between 6,000 and 8,000 to attend Saturday’s events,” he said.
McGrath said that the motto for this year’s Freedom Fest is “One Community” and that his goal is to bring members of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and members of the community together through fun events.
“Our goal is to bring the base and the community together,” he said.
GRUB AT THE HUB
Grub at the Hub is the first Freedom Fest event to take place this weekend, and it gives everyone a chance to celebrate at the Hub, Goldsboro’s newest entertainment venue, located at the corner of Center and Chestnut streets.
At the Hub, food and drinks will be available for purchase in addition to live music from the band Soul Psychedelique, from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. A free kids zone will also be open near the Hub.
RUNNERS, YOGA, VENDORS
On Saturday morning, the Freedom Fest will host a 5K and 1-mile fun run. Both runs will start on South Center Street, and runners are encouraged to wear red, white and blue to show support to the military. The cost is $35 to enter the 5K that begins at 7:30 a.m., and $15 to enter the fun run that begins at 8 a.m.
At the same time the 5K is taking place, a community yoga class will be held in the grassy lot between Worrell Contracting and Direct Carpets on Center Street.
The class will be offered by local fitness gym Barre Haus. The event will begin at 7:45 a.m., and it is free for all military members and first responders and their spouses.
For anyone else, the class is $8. The yoga class will last 45 minutes, and those participating will need to bring their own yoga mat.
During the day, vendors will have various items for sale, food trucks will be on hand, there will be a beer garden, and downtown merchants will be open for sales.
KIDS ZONE, CAR SHOW, CORNHOLE
A free kids zone, sponsored by Goldsboro Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, will be set up in the large lot on Center Street across the street from the Goldsboro fire station. The kids zone is planned to include a military rush obstacle course, a G.I. Joe obstacle course, a UFO bounce and slide, a wild west mechanical bull and a dinosaur double slide.
Across the street at the Hub will be an inclusive playground for children with sensory limitations, those who don’t like a lot of noise, a lot of lights or large crowds.
The Wayne County Cruisers and Woods Cycle will have a car and bike show, with awards. Registration is from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., and the show continues until 8 p.m.
The Arts Council of Wayne County will have its red, white and blue exhibit open throughout the festival.
The Arts Council will also have a station at the Freedom Tree on South Center Street for festivalgoers to design a personalized card to be sent to service members. The Arts Council will also have panels from its community art day where people can write in the names of their loved ones who are current service members or former service members.
At 4 p.m. on Saturday, the doubles cornhole tournament begins on the lot beside Well Travelled Beer. There is a limit of 32 teams that are allowed to enter, with each team required to pay a $40 entry fee.
Teams are allowed to arrive one hour early to practice before the tournament begins. The top team will receive $700, the second-place team will receive $500, and the top military team will also receive $500.
There will also be a military awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m.
SOUNDS OF FREEDOM
The festival’s entertainment lineup includes Tyler Davis, Spare Change, Sayer McShane and Brooke McBride. Tyler Davis, who will play acoustic soul and funk, and the Spare Change party band are each set to perform at 4 p.m. Sayer McShane, a rock and pop band, will go on stage at 5 p.m., and Brooke McBride, a country and blues singer, starts at 7 p.m.
The last main event on Saturday is the popular Wings of Wayne wing-cooking competition.
The competition, hosted by the Goldsboro Elks Lodge, will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The Wings of Wayne started five years ago, and its popularity eventually led to the creation of the Freedom Fest, McGrath said.
During the competition, each team will be provided wings by the Elks Lodge and will have to cook the wings and create their own sauces with the goal of making the best-tasting wings.
The first-place team will receive $250 and a La-Z-Boy recliner, the second-place team will receive $150, and the third-place team will receive $100.
There will also be a people’s choice award winner that will receive $250. To enter the contest, each team is required to pay a $75 entry fee. Wings will be on sale to members of the public for 50 cents each at South Center Street, where the contest will take place.
McGrath said that while he has high expectations for this year, he believes that future attendance will be much higher.
“I think that in the future we could see as many as 30,000 people attend Freedom Fest,” he said.