The New Freedom Fest is billed as a "festival of small-town life." This year, visitors will not only be entertained by musical acts throughout the day and tempted by food, art and crafts but also be able to explore the history of New Freedom.
Chairwoman Diane Folger's favorite festival activity is listening to the music -- and this year's headliner is the "well-known bluegrass group" Bill Emerson and the Sweet Dixie Bluegrass Band.
"There's main stage music all day long and the Freedom Stage at the other end of town," says New Freedom Heritage volunteer Bruce Merrill.
With an emphasis on music and its place alongside the York County Heritage Rail Trail, the festival attracts people out for a ride and curious about what they're hearing as well as those who intended to drop in.
"We get a lot of people riding along the rail trail stop and park their bikes and wander in to the music and listen," Merrill says.
Younger folks won't be neglected either.
After three years as chair, Folger knows what to expect.
"There are lots of things for children to do. It's a family-oriented-fun day to celebrate small-town life," she says. "This is the eighth year: Lots of arts and crafts, lots of food and a pie eating contest, art tent, pet parade."
The pet parade also makes Folger's top activity list.
"The pet parade is one of the best. We get all kinds of species," she says. "One year, we had a rooster -- or a chicken; one year a rabbit; last year, a turtle, a horse.... (It's) mostly dogs, but all species (are) welcome."
History: But visitors also can dig deeper into small-town life if they want. Thanks to a Creative Impact Award from the York County Cultural Alliance, the organizers will be unveiling a new theater at the New Freedom Heritage Museum to show visitors what life used to be like in New Freedom.
Visitors will be able to experience the past through documentaries put together thanks to the $21,600 grant. The videos cover three areas: work, recreation and school. A fourth being put together will honor first responders.
The work video "shows farmers, the railroads being built, the industries that came with it," Merrill says. It has "a lot of historical photos, 100 to 75 years old or more."
The community had to raise matching funds, Merrill says, but with the success of that effort they were able to build the theater in the museum basement and "create a kiosk that we can display throughout the community with historical information."
"The videos are done with local people born and raised in New Freedom," Folger says. "What we call a kiosk will show what a house looked like at the turn of the century and now. (It's) really cool."
New Freedom has something to learn from its history, too.
"This is what we did with the grant. We're very excited with that," Folger says. "There's a lot of history in New Freedom, a lot of businesses. It used to be the place to go to shop (and to) work. More people worked at businesses than lived here. It's the opposite now. We're trying to help that."
New Freedom Heritage is a nonprofit organization with a goal of strengthening the borough's sense of heritage and community. As Folger explains, "all funds we receive help out the museum" and related projects.
The group has plans for the future of New Freedom.
"We want to develop a downtown park right next to the museum, (with) development starting in fall," Folger says. "Freedom Green Park is what we call it: stage, nice little park, people can go walk their dogs, sit, enjoy (the) trail -- it's right on the rail trail."
New Freedom Fest
The annual New Freedom Fest runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday along the York County Heritage Rail Trail in New Freedom, between Main and Penn streets.
Admission and parking are free. The cost to play children's games all day is $5.
The pet parade begins at 2 p.m. at the trail in front of the New Freedom Train Station.
Bill Emerson and the Sweet Dixie Bluegrass Band will close the festival at 4 p.m. A ceremony at 3 p.m. will recognize contributors to the Creative Impact Award effort.
For more information, visit www.newfreedomheritage.org.
-- Reach Michelle Denise Norton at email@example.com.