Have a blast: Greenwood Freedom Festival offers music, food, fireworks

Anticipation grows as the skies get darker and darker.

Then, in one explosive moment, downtown Greenwood lights up with pyrotechnic color.

The Fourth of July season starts this weekend with the Greenwood Freedom Festival, the city’s largest festival and one of the area’s most popular events. Local residents can enjoy a parade, food, beer and wine vendors, kids activities and some of the region’s most rockin’ live music.

Grace Assembly of God will once again recognize the people who protect our freedom and keep us safe during the Honor Our Heroes event. Lt. Col. Oliver North, a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and former president of the National Rifle Association, will be the featured speaker.

And it all comes together under the fireworks-laden skies at dusk.

“It’s an opportunity for everybody have some fellowship and gather, to enjoy some good music and food and some fireworks as well,” said Rob Taggart, director of Greenwood Parks and Recreation. “It’s a good way to bring in an early celebration of Independence Day.”

Every summer, more than 50,000 people pack into Greenwood for the Freedom Festival. The city has been staging the festival-style Independence Day event annually for the past 20 years — save for a one-year hiatus in 2020 when it was canceled due to the pandemic. Organizers brought the event back last June on a smaller scale; instead of a daylong festival that had been held in the past, this one was focused on the late afternoon and evening.

The model worked well to centralize all the activities and get the community together, Taggart said.

“We learned a lot from COVID. We had to restructure the festival out of necessity, just to create a safe environment. Based from that, we got a lot of feedback from vendors and attendees that they really liked the way it was structured and the amenities we provided for them,” he said. “We tried to follow that outline based off of that feedback.”

Everything starts at 4 p.m., with the traditional parade. High school marching bands, police and fire departments, and civic organizations will make a loop around the Old Town area of Greenwood.

The route starts on Madison Avenue north of the Old Town area, heading south to Broadway Street to Greenwood Street. The floats and paraders will then travel east on Main Street, south on Market Plaza and around Surina Way before marching north on Meridian Street. Everyone will finish at Isom Elementary School.

“We like starting out at (Greenwood United Methodist Church) and working out way south, we like the way it engages the Old Town neighborhood and gets that grassroots feel about it again, going through the neighborhoods,” Taggart said.

With the parade complete, visitors are encouraged to gather in Craig Park, where live music will fill the air from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the park’s new event lawn. Groove Smash brings the rock, funk, soul and dance music in a set that covers everything from Aretha Franklin to OutKast to Lady Gaga.

Their performance will be followed by Johnson County favorites Toy Factory, whose bombast-soaked sets will have everyone dancing.

“We get great community response when (Toy Factory) plays; they play things people want to listen to and a lot of songs people like. And Groove Smash really fit the theme, bouncing off of what Toy Factory provides and what local residents like as well,” Taggart said.

Throughout the evening, more than 30 food vendors, in addition to six beer and wine options, offer options to keep up the energy and stay cool. A number of community-centric booths are also scheduled to be set up. The Kids Zone returns this year, offering inflatables, face painting, and other fun family-centric activities. Unlimited inflatable access bracelets are available for $10, and individual attraction tickets can be purchased at the event.

As darkness approaches, Freedom Festival organizers hope to bring people together and reflect on those who keep our community safe. Honor Our Heroes was created by Grace Assembly of God following the Sept. 11 attacks as a way to recognize military personnel and veterans, police, firefighters and emergency workers, and all of those who dedicate themselves to the safety of the country.

Speaking at this year’s event will be North, who in addition to being a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, was a syndicated columnist and host of “War Stories” on FOX News Channel. In May 2018, he retired from FOX News to serve as the 66th president of the National Rifle Association of America.

North will also be speaking at Grace Assembly of God during 9 and 11 a.m. services on Sunday. Attendance to both is free and open to the public.

“Former President Ronald Reagan referred to Lt. Col. North as an ‘American hero.’ What better person is there to help us say those who serve our community and our country at the annual Honor Our Heroes ceremony?” said Wayne Murray, pastor at Grace Assembly of God. “It is a privilege to have him speak at the Honor our Heroes ceremony at the Freedom Festival and to speak at our church the next morning. We look forward to celebrating our country and those who serve us.”

Following the Honor Our Heroes ceremony, the focus will turn to the skies for the fireworks display — always a highlight of the festival, Taggart said.


Greenwood Freedom Festival

When: 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday

Where: Craig Park, 10 E. Smith Valley Road, Greenwood


  • 4 to 5 p.m.: Parade
  • 5:30 to 7 p.m.: Groove Smash
  • 7:30 to 9 p.m.: Toy Factory
  • 9:15 to 10 p.m.: Honor Our Heroes with speaker Lt. Col. Oliver North
  • 10 p.m.: Star Spangled Banner and Retire the Flag
  • 10:15 p.m.: Fireworks

Information: greenwood.in.gov