EAST STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Eyewitness News has exclusively learned, after seventeen years, a big Fourth of July celebration in the Poconos is no more. The annual ‘American Freedom Festival’ in East Stroudsburg’s Dansbury Park is canceled for good.
The free two-day event is a tradition for many, and attracts thousands of people to the park. Organizers say scrapping Freedom Fest wasn’t an easy decision, but they had to consider several factors.
Every year, Ralph Ayala looks forward to bringing his grandson Damien to Freedom Fest.
He says, “everybody comes. You got different ethnic groups, different types of foods, different types of music. It’s a fun day.”
But the carnival rides and fireworks have fizzled.
“We’ll have to find alternative plans this year, which is kind of sad, considering it’s such short notice,” Ayala adds.
The president of ‘Eastburg Community Alliance’, which organizes Freedom Fest, says the event doesn’t generate enough money for the small non-profit. It’s also taxing on volunteers and doesn’t benefit borough businesses enough. Fireworks became a major expense as well.
Instead, the ECA plans to hold several community events each year on Crystal Street to help boost businesses.
Marc Jackett likes the idea. He owns ‘Beer House Cafe’ and the new ‘Derailed Taphouse’, set to open in a few weeks.
He adds, “I mean, at first we were maybe a little bit reluctant because they want to close the street [Crystal Street] for some of these events. But overall, I think it’s going to be great.”
Although Eastburg Community Alliance is heading in a new direction, some residents wish they would reconsider.
“If they can’t have the whole giant festival, maybe tone it down a little bit? But there’s things that could be done,” Ayala believes.
The events on Crystal Street won’t be large-scale like Freedom Fest was, but they would likely include vendors and music. Organizers compare their vision to Easton’s ‘PA Bacon Fest’.