Flagler County, FL – Drawing thousands to the Flagler Executive Airport on Saturday, July 3rd, from lemonade and funnel cakes, to classic cars and warbirds, it was a coming together in celebration of America at Freedom Fest 2021.
Kicking off the festivities, legendary jazz songstress Linda Cole performed a special rendition of the Star Spangled Banner as Florida Representative Paul Renner, a retired U.S. Naval Commander, helped emcee the ceremonies with enthusiasm.
Families flocked to the airport throughout the day to enjoy a variety of things to see and do. Auto lovers got their fill talking with car aficionados who proudly set up and displayed more than 100 classic cars and trucks for the event just off the tarmac, while aviation enthusiasts lined the runways eager for a front row seat as planes and helicopters took part in flyovers, and model planes wowed with their breathtaking maneuvers.
Area businesses and nonprofits also took the opportunity to get in front of residents from across the region, talking about everything from open positions with their companies to services and fundraisers on the calendar for the upcoming fall 2021 season.
While there was plenty of music, food and families out to celebrate the nation’s 245th Independence Day, there was an undercurrent of reflection not usually so palpable among attendees this year as people walked among the show planes and toured the military equipment on display.
“This is what it’s all about since 1776. I love this event and I hope the rest of the county loves it,” said Flagler County Veterans Services officer David Lydon, a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
He spent time walking and talking to attendees to increase awareness for the resources available to veterans and their families.
“Veterans Services is there to support our veterans and their families, and surviving spouses. Eric Flores and myself love doing it and we want more people to know we’re there because we do find out that there’s a lot of people who don’t know our office is there. We can be of great help to a lot of people.”
Training the next generation of aviators, retired Marine Colonel Jack Howell, CEO and founder of Teens-In-Flight, hopes that Americans will remember those who have served over the centuries to ensure liberty and freedom for all.
“I think that when we look at the freedoms that we have, it’s because of the military through our history as a nation, that has kept our rights in place,” said Howell. “They need to really understand what it means. (Our) independence cost a lot of lives, a lot of bloodshed, and it’s not just about the fireworks and the beach.”
Messages of gratitude were laced throughout the event by not only the musical performers but exhibitors on site like The American Flag Project.
Flagler County residents were appreciative of the free event that offered family-friendly activities, and Flagler Broadcasting vice president and general manager David Ayres said they were pleased to partner with the Flagler Executive Airport and local sponsors to bring the event to the community.
“The biggest thanks goes to the Good Lord and mother nature for making it a beautiful day out here at Flagler Executive Airport,” said Ayres, greeting attendees as they streamed through the gates with a hello.
“What a great event to see all kinds of people, everybody’s getting along, having a great time. It’s just a great day to celebrate our freedoms and draw attention to it. We can’t thank Roy Sieger, Flagler Executive Airport and his whole staff for organizing everything going up in the air in flights. It’s just a great community event, and we can’t thank everybody enough for being here and supporting it.”