Hundreds of people crowded into McFarland Park over the weekend for the 34th Annual Spirit of Freedom celebration. Spirits were high despite the dreary, rain soaked weather, as festival-goers found no shortage of fun to be had. Vendors pitched tents bursting with t-shirts and other keepsakes, while across the way all potential hankerings were bested by a gauntlet of food trucks. Crispy, hand-cut fried potato chips were gleefully devoured, and many a face was dusted by the sugary coils of a funnel cake. An organic freeze pop stand offered a cool, delicious alternative to the classics. No one went hungry.
Several carnival themed games kept the kids occupied, chief among them a strongman game that experienced quite a battering as the festivities progressed. Swimmers splashed and whooped about the riverbanks, some floating atop the jade water of the Tennessee River on inner tubes and rafts brought from home. Even pets were swept into the fun; Saturday July 4th, 2015 was a good day for pats and scratches behind the ears, that’s for certain. And a little fresh air never hurt a bulldog, either.
The Spirit of Freedom festival has always provided the best in live music, and this year was no exception. The lineup consisted completely of local musicians, a definite point of pride for Shoals residents. Our area boasts one of the most vibrant and influential music scenes in American history, after all. Eight bands rocked the stage from 1PM to 9PM before the Grand Finale lit up the sky in a blaze of color and glory. The fireworks were fired from a barge anchored in the center of the river, ensuring everyone a splendid view of the show.
All in all, the Spirit of Freedom festival of 2015 was blast. One must feel sorry for next year’s celebration; the pressure to exceed its predecessor must be stifling. A bit more sunlight would be a nice start.
About the Writer
Caleb Darnell is a writer born and bred in Florence Alabama. He doesn’t like to talk about himself that much