Every year, hundreds of thousands of people gather in Cedar Rapids for concerts, fireworks, and other extraordinary events that take place in the weeks leading up to the 4th of July. We are proud of the work the Freedom Festival does in coordinating programming that brings our community together and truly makes summer in Eastern Iowa a unique tradition.
As the world continues to fight the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all found ourselves in uncharted territory. It threatens our health and safety, as well as our livelihood. The plans for the 2020 Festival were upended, as were plans for so many others in the live-event industry across the country.
While not holding events this year was the right decision, it is devastating to the Festival, our industry and our city nonetheless. In addition to our own challenges, the absence of this year's Festival has created a hardship for many of our sponsors, vendors and other community partners. Tourism (both local and state) has declined and many are left without jobs as a result. Without events like Balloon Glow and the Celebration of Freedom Fireworks, area hotels have had to scramble to look for other ways to generate revenue. It could be several months before we get to the other side of this curve – both health-wise and economically.
We ask that as Congress works towards securing additional funding for struggling entities, PLEASE be sure that those of us in the events industry are included.
While the Festival is a private, not-for-profit entity, it is classified as a 501(c)(3). We are a small business with a 2-person staff who are tasked with producing a community celebration. We believe we are, in many ways, the type of asset for which a program such as the PPP was intended.
To make it through this crisis and protect the Freedom Festival in future years, we need continued aid based on revenues lost now – and beyond. We expect to see more cancellations of live concerts, sporting events, conventions, and festivals like ours before this crisis subsides.
We thank you for your efforts and encourage you to keep leading the way in protecting Iowa businesses in CARES 4, especially those of us in one of the most vulnerable and hard-hit professions – and that will likely be the last to re-open. We need your help to save our favorite Iowa traditions.
Events & Marketing Director
Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival