Freedom Fest ‘19 filled with fun, new folks

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Yukon Progress, Yukon Review, Life In Narrative, Conrad Dudderar

July 4th provided plenty of patriotic fanfare in Yukon. It was a great day to be in our fine city with an event-filled celebration like no other in Oklahoma.

I enjoyed my first Freedom Fest since 2014. What I noticed immediately was how many more people attend now. As your Yukon Progress reporter “on the scene,” I came for some of the morning activities at Yukon City Park.

Longtime local realtor (and former mayor) Genie Vinson remains a great supporter of the first Yukon July 4th activity – the early morning Cherry Bomb Triathlon. Genie has been behind this friendly Freedom Fest competition since the start.

About 30 young athletes ages 8-13 came out to swim, bike and run in this annual competition. My fellow Yukon Nutcracker performers Patrick and Ashleigh McClung were there to capture memories of the epic triathlon for their local website, yukonsbest.com.

Another unforgettable Freedom Fest morning event was a colorful children’s parade. Mabel C. Fry Public Library staff members and library volunteers did a tremendous job corralling all 80-plus parade participants.

Children’s parade entries hit record numbers. The event has really grown in recent years since Yukon Librarian Sara Schieman and her crew took over.

“It was huge,” Sara says. “We promote the parade along with our summer reading program. It’s a real ‘hometown’ parade.”

Yukon Chamber of Commerce CEO Pam Shelton returned as parade emcee and judges were City Council Member Shelli Selby, and Ladies Library Club/Yukon Library Board members Sue Kilmer and Inez Andrews.

There were plenty of other activities to enjoy at the 2019 edition of Freedom Fest. Literally “something for everyone.”

Dale Robertson Center manager Casey Barnett headed up a sand art contest and other Yukon Parks & Recreation staff supervised children’s crafts tents, inflatable games, a free swim at City Splash, obstacle course contests, and a hot dog eating contest.

And, what would this patriotic summer festival be without a car show? My personal favorite was Steve Riggs’ custom ’75 Chevy Corvette, with a look and sound that screamed July 4th.

Live entertainment and spectacular fireworks shows both Wednesday and Thursday nights made Freedom Fest ‘19 one for the books. Yukon’s fireworks displays are the envy of surrounding communities.

Yukon residents should count themselves fortunate to have the OKC Philharmonic here not just once, but twice each year. They perform for Freedom Fest and December’s Sounds of the Season.

It was great seeing some familiar faces at this year’s festival. I enjoyed visiting with Jerry Bohnen, formerly of KTOK news radio. I hadn’t seen Jerry in a minute or two, so it was nice catching up.

Jerry is still in the news business (a journalist never really “retires”). You can now “hear” from Jerry by visiting OkEnergyToday.com. His website provides “energy news at your fingertips.”

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SPLISH SPLASH: Yukon will seek a grant to build a new water spray park and provide playground improvements at Freedom Trail Park off Holly.

If the grant funds are awarded, they will fund another splash pad water feature like the one at Sunrise Park. More details to come.

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Yukon’s Compassionate Hands raised nearly $3,000 at its annual spaghetti dinner on June 22 at the Yukon Masonic Lodge #90. I volunteered to work the late clean-up shift with Jason Brunk but got there a little earlier to help make sure people had enough ice for their water and tea.

Nobody left hungry after attendees devoured a terrific authentic spaghetti dinner prepared by Joe and Jill Fidelie.

It took the leadership of Compassionate Hands’ director Joanne Riley and volunteer board members like Keith Henson, Marsha Felton, Jaquita Icenhower, Bill Baker, Cathy Patton, and others to ensure the pasta feed was a success.

I was especially proud that friend Karla Mize won a $300 Visa gift card because I sold her the $5 raffle ticket.

Among attendees at the benefit dinner was District 3 Canadian County Commissioner Jack Stewart. This was the first time I saw Jack wearing shorts and it was quite a sight, let me tell you. It was great finally meeting Jack wife’s Jan.

Manna Pantry was well represented at the dinner. I saw several board members, including Jennifer Leck-Wild, Ramona Ritchie and Vicki McKee. It is great to see the cooperation between Manna Pantry and Compassionate Hands and the support that these two organizations give each other.

Other special dinner guests included Jack and Ozella Hinton. Ozella is Marsha’s mother and Jack sometimes helps us at the Yukon Progress by taking photos at community events. Good people all around!

Thanks to everyone who came to eat and support our Compassionate Hands ministry, in its 25th year serving Yukon.

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NEW TEACHER LUNCHEON: Tuesday, Aug. 6 will bring one of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce’s biggest events, the New Teacher Luncheon.