29th Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival Goes Out With a Bang
By Sam Lane and Jillian Petrus, Reporters
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival Executive Director Robyn Rieckhoff said she was tired after her two-week-long event culminated with Wednesday night's fireworks.
But the exhaustion was worth it.
Rieckhoff said the festival's numbers were up this year and said the event "went really well." With all the events -- including Wednesday's fireworks -- put together, Rieckhoff estimated the celebration's attendance eclipsed 100,000.
One of Rieckhoff's goals was to boost the sales of the festival's buttons, which provided access to special events and other deals for attendees. Rieckhoff said she wasn't sure if officials reached their goal of selling 60,000 buttons, she said they sold "way more than before."
"I feel great about that," Rieckhoff said Tuesday night. "Next year, that's going to be an even bigger number. The awareness of the festival is greater."
Rieckhoff said the Jo Dee Messina concert at Kirkwood Community College and the Dock Dogs event were among her personal favorites this year.
The Cedar Rapids native, who's in her first year as executive director of the Freedom Festival, said she hopes to bring new events to the festival next year. She said she wants to draw 11-to-15-year-old kids, as well as teenagers. She said she always hears there's not a lot for kids to do at the festival.
The sweltering heat at many of the festival's day events did affect attendance slightly, Rieckhoff said, but it didn't detract from the experience.
"It was great," she said of the festival. "I loved it . . . I hope to take what I’ve learned and do better next year."
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