NEARLY NORMAL: Summer and fall events are taking shape

With vaccines in arms and pandemic precautions loosened, this year’s festival season is looking brighter than last year’s, organizers say.

Most events were canceled last year but a few were modified and continued safely. Franklin and Greenwood are planning to bring back traditional events, with some changes due to the lingering pandemic.

Though Gov. Eric Holcomb no longer mandates event plan approval from county health departments, local event organizers have remained diligent about submitting plans. The department has seen everything from festivals to fun-runs to multi-family garage sales, said Betsy Swearingen, health department director.

Organizers’ plans outline what efforts they will make to keep crowds safe, including mask, sanitation and social distancing policies that may be in place.

“We would like to know what it is going on and that organizations are taking the safety of attendees seriously,” Swearingen said.

Masks are not required for events unless an organizer requests it, though the health department is encouraging organizers to encourage masks at indoor gatherings. Organizers are also asked to put in place measures that encourage social distancing, such as markings at vendor booths, she said.

In Greenwood, the Freedom Festival, the city’s largest event, will likely be scaled back this year. But the Greenwood Parks and Recreation Department plans to eliminate a few of the activities associated with it, said Rob Taggart, parks director.

Concerts at the Greenwood Amphitheater will be back for its regular season from June to August, with the same safety measures that were taken during last year’s concert season, Taggart said.

Movies in the park and events at the pool will also make a return, he said.

The Franklin Parks Department will debut two new festivals this year: the Festival Country Kickoff and Car-B-Que. Both were planned to debut last year but were canceled due to the pandemic.

The inaugural kickoff event will be hosted jointly by the Franklin Parks Department and Festival Country Indiana, the county’s tourism organization.

The event will feature food, a beer garden, music and booths with information about upcoming events throughout the county, said Holly Johnston, recreation director.

The event, scheduled for May 21, a week before the annual Strawberries on the Square, will act as a kickoff to festival season.

As the name suggests, the Car-B-Que will feature a car show, barbeque vendors and a beer garden, Johnston said.

Summer camps, movies at the pool and other traditions will also make a return, parks officials said.

Discover Downtown Franklin is planning a return to normal after pivoting last year to a drive-thru Strawberries on the Square, and a socially distanced Ethos Celebration of the Arts.

Events will be nearly normal with a wine tasting being added for Ethos and a beer and wine tent being added for Strawberries on the Square, said Jessica Giles, Discover Downtown Franklin’s executive director.

Event organizers are taking a cautiously optimistic approach with hopes events will be as close to normal as possible. However, they are watching the situation closely and will make ultimate determinations for safety measures a few weeks in advance of an event date, they said.

“We are just excited to get to do things downtown again and see people out and about and enjoying themselves safely,” Johnston said. “I’m ready.”

Overall, there are about 200 events listed on Festival Country Indiana’s online events calendar at, said Ken Kosky, executive director.

The calendar lists concerts, 5ks, farmers markets, vintage festivals, public train rides and more from local organizations and businesses.

Even last year, there was a clear appetite for events to resume and to get back to a normal summer, as evidenced by how many attended the events last year, and spending habits that raised food and beverage tax collections to normal levels, Kosky said.

Due to that demand, Festival Country is planning its biggest advertising campaign ever in hopes of drawing more visitors to the county, he said.

Like the Franklin billboard that is already up near the Interstate 65 interchange, emphasizing the city’s history and fun things to do downtown, each additional advertisement — on the road and online — will feature a few buzz words that demonstrate why each city and town is worth a visit.

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Festival Country Kickoff

When: May 21; 5-10 p.m.

Where: Festival Country Visitors Center, 66 S. Water St., Franklin.

What: The festival, hosted by Franklin Parks and Recreation and Johnson County Visitor and Tourism Bureau (Festival Country), features food vendors, a beer garden, a concert and information booths that will feature events set to happen all over Johnson County this year.

Strawberries on the Square

When: May 28; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Johnson County Courthouse Square, Franklin

What: Strawberry shortcakes are back this year, now accompanied by a beer and wine tent with drinks from Mallow Run Winery and Big Woods Brewing. This Discover Downtown Franklin event also features a car show and live music.

First Settler’s Festival

When: June 5; all day.

Where: Downtown Nineveh

What: This festival celebrates the 200th anniversary of the first settler of Nineveh Township. The event will feature a parade, strawberry festival, craft and food vendors, music, a historical 5K walk and pioneer activities.

Car-B-Que Festival

When: June 12; 4-10 p.m.

Where: Downtown Franklin

What: This new festival from Franklin Parks and Recreation will feature barbeque food vendors, a beer garden, a car show, kids fun zone a concert.

Sparks in the Park

When: June 25; 6-10:30 p.m.

Where: Johnson County Park, Nineveh

What: The festival will feature a concert, food vendors, beer and wine, fireworks and train rides from Indiana Live Streamers. The fireworks show is free for the public, but the concert is ticketed.

Freedom Festival

When: June 26; noon to 10:30 p.m.

Where: Craig Park, Greenwood.

What: Greenwood’s Freedom Festival typically includes a parade, local food, beer and craft vendors, a kids zone and a fireworks show. The event may be scaled down for the pandemic, with specific plans to be announced later.

Franklin Firecracker Festival

When: July 3; 6-10:30 p.m.

Where: Downtown Franklin

What: The Franklin parks festival will feature fireworks, food, a beer garden, a fun zone, concerts from Franklin Community Band and Blue River Band and the “Fastest Kid in Town” race.

Edinburgh Firecracker Festival

When: July 4; 5-10:30 p.m.

Where: Edinburgh Parks and Recreation

What: The festival will feature music in the shelter house, games, bounce houses, contests and fireworks at dusk.

Daily Journal Street Party

When: July 16; 6-10 p.m.

Where: East Court Street, Franklin.

What: The event will feature food vendors, a beer garden, live music and a chance to learn more about the work Johnson County’s only daily newspaper does for the community.


When: Aug. 21; noon to 9 p.m.

Where: Craig Park, Greenwood.

What: The Greenwood parks event is all in the name: Wine, Art, Music and Microbrew. Wine and beer will flow throughout the event with art on display and concerts scheduled throughout the day.

Ethos Celebration of the Arts

When: Aug. 8; all day.

Where: Downtown Franklin

What: The Discover Downtown Franklin event will feature a juried art show, music, arts programming and a chalk art contest organized by Festival Country.

Pours in the Park

When: Sept. 18; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Where: Johnson County Park, Nineveh.

What: A new festival featuring beer, wine and spirits to be held at Johnson County Park.

Franklin Fall Festival

When: September 25; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Franklin Amphitheater, 159 W. Monroe St.

What: The festival will feature entertainment, food, a parade, bounce houses, a beer garden, a dachshund derby, music and a one-mile dance party.

Rock the Clock

When: Sept. 25; 3-10 p.m.

Where: Downtown Greenwood, 300 S. Madison Ave.

What: The Greenwood parks event will feature live music, local beer and wine vendors, food trucks in a block-party atmosphere.

Hops and Vines

When: Oct. 2; 5-10 p.m.

Where: Franklin Amphitheater, 159 W. Monroe St.

What: The Discover Downtown Franklin festival will feature craft beer and wine from local makers and from across the state.

Source: Festival Country Indiana