On Saturday, we celebrated the third annual Pretzel Fest in Downtown Freeport. Even with the crazy weather (snow, sleet, rain, sunshine all within an hour), it was a wonderful day thanks to the planning of great volunteers, vendors, sponsors and businesses.
This festival is fairly new in the Partnership’s repertoire of downtown events and came to fruition because of an outcry that there wasn’t enough recognition given to Freeport’s pretzel heritage. And so, the festival took shape in 2021; our first event after Covid and also the first festival to utilize the Freeport Festival District ordinance. It is scheduled in late April in proximity to National Pretzel Day, which is April 26.
This year’s event featured a BBQ competition, two soft pretzel vendors, axe throwing, face painting, and displays from the Freeport School District, Freeport Park District, YMCA, as well as several local businesses. Pretzel Fest also embraces a different type of entertainment than our other events, choosing to highlight local talent from a local martial arts group, Progressive Fighting Concepts, music from Ukulele Express 815, and yoga from instructors at Your Core Being. The event’s success can never be discussed without mentioning the amazing efforts of Event Coordinator Katie Gentz. She is the best there is!
However, regardless of the content of the event, we always keep in mind, “why are we hosting this event and how is it significant to our work?” Pretzel Fest builds on a few of our goals: creating traffic in Downtown Freeport, showcasing our local businesses, and promoting pride of place. The big one for Pretzel Fest is pride of place. “Pretzel Pride” is strewn across t-shirts and SWAG from the school district and the event honors that, for one day, everyone can be a Pretzel. Whether you are excited by the uniqueness and significance of the mascot or the salty snack itself, we will always be excited to promote pride in our place.
Speaking of pride, this is also Stephenson County Restaurant Week! Make a point to go out and try new restaurants or menu items. You can find a complete list at greaterfreeport.com/restaurantweek.