Veterans to benefit from new festival

The Virginia Freedom Festival, which will be held from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Warren County Fairgrounds, will honor local veterans and celebrate the freedom they provided the country.

Cindy Kokernak, festival secretary, said Independence Day provided the perfect opportunity to honor veterans.

“Independence Day is the perfect time to honor our veterans, as is every day,” she said. “We want to celebrate freedom and show our respect for all veterans who have served and are serving now.”

Ken Thurman, chairman of the Virginia Air Show’s executive committee, said the effort to bring the festival to reality was spearheaded by County Supervisor Dan Murray, who is retired from the Army, and Bill Hammack, who is retired from the Marine Corps. Thurman added that he is retired from the Air Force.

“It seemed appropriate since the festival is to honor our military veterans and their families, and especially those who have sacrificed so much, our disabled veterans,” he said.

Kokernak added that 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit veterans through various organizations, including:
• VFW Post 1860: 50 percent of proceeds will be used to rebuild their post home.
• Able Forces: an organization that helps veterans find employment will receive 12.5 percent of proceeds.
• Disabled Veterans: 12.5 percent of proceeds will be used for their veteran programs.
• Fisher House: 12.5 percent of proceeds will help house the loved ones of hospitalized veterans so they can be close while the veteran receives treatment.
• Habitat for Heroes: 12.5 percent of proceeds will go toward the American Legion Auxiliary Department President’s project, and funds will be used toward the building of a home for a disabled single-parent veteran in Virginia.

Thurman added that the festival is funded by donations from over 25 individuals and organizations, ticket sales, beer sales and vendor booth sales.

He added that the two-day event will feature live music with local, regional and nationally recognized artists, activities for children including face painting and balloon animals, along with a variety of craft and food vendors.

Music artists will be hitting the stage at the festival to show their support of the local veterans. Country music artists Jimmy Fortune and Larry Gatlin, celtic rock band Scythian and gospel singer Lisa Meadows will headline the event.

Jimmy Fortune, a country music artist, said he is blessed to be a part of the festival taking place in his home state.

Anything that has to do with Virginia and freedom is something he said he wants to be a part of.

“What better place to celebrate this weekend as far as the independence of our country as coming back home to Virginia to celebrate with a lot of friends and family,” he said.

He likes performing at small town festivals as they provide a more intimate experience, he said, because he can talk one-on-one with the community. When he signs autographs at the end of every show he takes the opportunity to speak with his fans. He said this is the his favorite part of performing and he often comes out of these talks with song ideas.

“Small town U.S.A, to me, that’s what this country is all about,” he said. “You really get to see the heart of America.”

He added that music is a way to bring the country together through common positive values and he hopes this festival has that effect for those who attend.

“We will all be there together celebrating what we do have in common, and that’s freedom and love for one another,” he said.

He added that we also need to remember that the freedom we may take for granted was paid for by the veterans who put their lives on the line for everyone in this country.

“There are so many people who have given so much for us,” he said, and this festival is a way to honor them.

He said he typically performs between 15 to 20 songs in a show and will be including songs with a patriotic theme in his set.


Noon: Gates open.
1 p.m.: Cpening ceremony/presentation of colors by Young Marines and Red Tie Tribute
1- 5 p.m.: Car Show
1:30 p.m.: Richard Parker (Elvis impersonator)
3 – 3:30 p.m.: Steve Foster and “Amazing Grace” Show (by 4-H Building)
3 p.m.: Where’s Leroy (country/rock)
4 p.m.: Danny Figgins (country/gospel/Willie)
5 p.m.: Five of a Kind (bluegrass)
6:30 – 7:30 p.m.: Woody James from Nashville
8 – 9 p.m.: Martin Family Circus (fun family entertainment)
Closing prayer

Noon: Gates open.
12:30 p.m.: Opening ceremony
1 p.m.: “The Heavenly Notes”
2:30 p.m.: Woody James from Nashville
4 p.m.: Lisa Meadows (gospel)
5:30 p.m.: Scythian (Celtic rock)
7 p.m.: Jimmy Fortune (country)
8:30 p.m.: Larry Gatlin (gospel/country)
Closing prayer

• Information: www.VirginiaFreedomFestival.com
Tickets: Advance tickets are available online before the festival at a reduced cost.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com