With other events cancelled, privately planned "Freedom Fest" takes place in Palmer

Published: Jul. 4, 2020 at 6:18 PM AKDT
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On Saturday, the sidewalks were packed, as a parade rolled through Downtown Palmer. It marked the beginning of the day's Fourth of July festivities, and the second day of the "Valley Freedom Fest."

The two-day event was organized by a group of local residents and business owners, after other holiday celebrations were cancelled due to concerns regarding Alaska's increasing COVID-19 case count.

The event was not technically sponsored by the city, but Palmer Mayor Edna Devries was in attendance, and told KTUU that she felt things went "very well," from her point of view.

"Before this event, we said: 'We're not going to come and say to you ... Is this your mother, Is this your father?' ... We're going to assume that if you're in a group of 4-5 people, those are family members that you live with or are comfortable with," Devries said.

Nearby, the Palmer MTA building was the unofficial headquarters of the freedom fest. Vendors, food trucks and amusement attractions were spread out across the property as part of the event.

According to Jason Johnson -- a local business owner and member of the event's planning committee -- the event had two main purposes: Supporting vendors who lost business due to the cancellation of the state fair and other public gatherings -and- providing options for those who wanted to get out and celebrate the holiday.

"You know, it's outside. We just wanted something to do ... For people to have a choice to come out and get together," Johnson said. "We are trying to do it responsibly, but we want to give people the option to be able to come out and go something on the fourth."

Nearby events in Anchorage, Wasilla, Chugiak and Eagle River were cancelled in advance of the Fourth of July weekend.

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