By far Hendersonville's largest annual community event, the July 3 Freedom Festival isn't just about the fireworks.
For years the Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce event presented by Re/Max Choice Properties and the Hendersonville Parks Department has raised money for local schools. This year, however, the chamber, through its Hendersonville Chamber Foundation, hopes to raise even more money through a text to donate program, according to chamber President/CEO Kathleen Hawkins.
Hawkins said the organization will put up signage at places like local marinas to encourage those who view the fireworks display by boat and in other locations besides Drakes Creek Park to donate.
In the past, the Chamber Foundation has collected the proceeds from vender booth rentals, a kid's zone and donations inside the park, and awarded grants to local teachers through the non-profit group COMPASS.
This year the foundation hopes to raise even more money through its text to donate program, and administer the education grants directly to the teachers.
Hawkins says she has met with several area school principals who say the grants allow teachers to come up with more creative and innovative ways of reaching students.
"It really is a community event with a purpose which is exciting," said Hawkins.
Also new this year is a Hendersonville Has Talent show from 5 to 6 p.m. featuring 15 talent acts selected by a chamber committee headed up by Actor's Point Theatre Company Director Greg Wilson. Community members will get to vote for contestants through Facebook with celebrity judges selecting a winner of a $1,000 prize just before the fireworks at 9 p.m.
Also performing between 6 to 9 p.m. are the bands Unlikely Suspects and Limitless. HHS senior Kendal Nolen will perform the National Anthem.
Hawkins said members of the chamber have been working with the city's parks, police and fire departments to assure a safe, wholesome family event that can accommodate 15,000 people.
A kids' zone will feature inflatables and games for younger kids, while other activities will entertain older children and teens, including a video game bus and human hamster balls from KnockerBall of Middle Tennessee.
"There will be fun for kids of all ages," added Hawkins.
Food vendors on-hand in Drake's Creek Park include Fox's Pizza Den, Jet's Pizza, Paninis and More, Whitt's Barbecue, Will's Chills/Little Jimmy's Italian Ices, Maggie Moo's Ice Cream, Kona Ice and Lisa's Kettle Corn.
Proceeds from the event will also benefit a scholarship to Volunteer State Community College and Union University's Leadership Academy.