Freedom Fest about more than just fun and fireworks

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Jonah Beleckis
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

JANESVILLE—All the activities are free, yet local pastor Jason Karampatsos said he wants attendees of 2017's Freedom Fest to take something else home with them.

New to this year's Freedom Fest, which will feature carnival rides, family activities, live music and fireworks Saturday, July 1, is the Compassion Experience from Compassion International.

By using modern technology, Karampatsos wanted to give people who might not be able to afford a mission trip the opportunity to see the experience of a child in poverty, a problem millions of children face around the world.

The Compassion Experience, which consists of a tractor trailer and a tent, allows people to walk through two unique stories of children who have difficult lives, he said.

“I really wanted it to be more than just a single-day event as far as impact,” Karampatsos said. “They can get a hands-on experience. (It's) for those who might not have a passport, who might not be able to go on a short-term mission trip. This will be one opportunity they can experience right here in Janesville.”

Freedom Fest also includes the Day of Compassion, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will involve free health screenings along with grocery and clothing giveaways. Mercyhealth and other community organizations will provide free screenings for glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure. Mercyhealth also will give away bicycle helmets, according to the Freedom Fest website.

Freedom Fest is partnering with Convoy of Hope to bring a semi-trailer of groceries and household supplies to give away, according to the website.

The event also will feature food for people to purchase if they want, but Karampatsos said everyone is welcome to pack their own lunches if they prefer.

Throughout the year, Orchard View Alliance Church of Janesville has collected clothing to give out, including at Freedom Fest. Those who have clothing they might want to donate can do so at 2707 Bond Place, Janesville, according to the website.

The theme of giving has long been part of the event, Karampatsos said. Last year, Freedom Fest raised more than $6,000 to support the building of a well in Africa for children who didn't have access to clean water, he said.

Last year's event drew between 25,000 and 30,000 people throughout the day. He said the event's 50 to 60 sponsors make it all possible financially.

This year will be Karampatsos' third Freedom Fest and second as lead pastor. He said the event has had a great heritage and impact in the community, something that drew him to it.

“We just looked at the opportunity to bless families in our community with food, clothing, with health screenings, being able to give them … a great day,” he said. “Perhaps the funnest day of the summer.”

Karampatsos said keeping the event free for everyone was important because there are a lot of people within the Janesville community who might not be able to enjoy a carnival.

There also will be a children's area with a petting zoo, face painting and balloon animals.

According to Freedom Fest's website, the musical lineup includes:

Headliner Jordan Feliz, who is a contemporary Christian pop singer and songwriter. His song “The River” held the top spot on the Christian AC Songs chart for 10 weeks, and his debut, full-length album from April 2016 entered the Christian Albums charts at No. 4. He will perform at 8 p.m.

The melodic Christian rock outfit Citizen Way, which is based in Elgin, Illinois. The group's second album, “2.0,” was released in March 2016. The band takes the stage at 6:30 p.m.

Christian rapper Flame, who was born in St. Louis and has numerous Dove, Stellar and Grammy Award nominations. He will perform at 5 p.m.

About a dozen churches will be on the grounds of the festival, Karampatsos said. He hopes people will make a connection with one and further pursue a spiritual relationship.

Freedom Fest might be a one-day event packed with activities, but Karampatsos said he wants people to take away something more intangible: a “strong sense of community.”

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