In its fourth year, Freedom Fest proved another round of success as locals filled the beach area — and everything else in between the shore line of Lake Beaverfork to the parking lot — during a celebration centered around the nation's freedom on Saturday.
"This is a festival to celebrate our freedom," City Church Pastor Joey Cook said as he led the audience in a round of applause in support of the nation's veterans. "We want to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy and this is why we put on this festival."
Cook also reminded each member in the audience to put their individual trust in Jesus before welcoming Andrew Washington to the state to sing the National Anthem.
As Washington sang the nation's greatest hit, fireworks could be seen off in the distance. Once his performance drew to an end, the crowd — some standing and others sitting — watched in awe as the superb Freedom Fest fireworks display shot off into the sky above the waters of Lake Beaverfork.
Many children splashed along in the lake as the sky above them lit up with intricate, explosive and colorful displays, while some out in the crowd hollered in excitement with each booming echo as the next firework shot off into the sky.
Before the fireworks portion of the festival began, hundreds of families gathered at Lake Beaverfork Park to enjoy an evening of festivities offered as part of Freedom Fest.
Families splashed and swam in the lake, while others maneuvered their way to the jungle-gym and play area.
Several rounds of beach volleyball were played on a sandy course just a few feet away from the center stage, where an array of live, musical performances were played throughout the event.
Conway resident Brittany Platt attended the event with her family.
As her younger family members took advantage of the swimming opportunities before them, she enjoyed the opportunity to practice her hula hooping skills on the sandy shore of Lake Beaverfork in their free time leading up to the fireworks display.
Looking into the crowd, Platt said she was happy to be among the welcoming Freedom Fest crowd.
"This event is just great," she said, taking a break from hula hooping. "Everyone seems to be having a great time and the atmosphere ... it just feels like an actual festival."
Keeping a safe distance from the clustered crowd, hung Nick Wood of Conway and a group of his friends.
The group of four lounged in two large hammocks as they listened to the music and enjoyed the spirit around them.
Wood said he is proud to say he is a two-year veteran to the festival, and plans to attend many more in the future.
"I like that this is a local event," he said. "The food is local. The music is local, and the park is local. And, I'm really looking forward to the high-intensity firework show."
Many carnival eats were onsite, including Bragg’s Big Bites, Say Cheese, Kona Ice, Andy’s Frozen Custard, Road Hog BBQ, Little Penguin Tacos, Crawfish Cares, Nate’s Hot Dogs, Wok ’n Roll, El Buen Gusto, Jefferson’s Mobile Grilling, Cakes by Catie and Blue Sail Coffee.
As Catie Morrow ran her cake pop and cupcake stand, her husband, Chris, and 5-year-old son, Cameron, wandered about enjoying the atmosphere at Saturday's festival.
"We're having a blast," Chris Morrow said as he walked about the park with the couple's 5-year-old son.
The event triggered from a 2013 conversation between a group of City Church members who were looking for a way to give back to the community.
The first Freedom Fest was held at Laurel Park, with a few food trucks, some bounce houses and live music on site and has since grown to almost overflow the grounds of Beaverfork Lake Park.