2018 marks 24 years since Goshen held its first airshow.
A community’s strength is best witnessed by how well its residents work together for the benefit of all. There is no better example than America’s Freedom Fest in Goshen, Indiana.
“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.” – President Harry S. Truman
America’s Freedom Fest is the culmination of past and current community efforts designed around celebrating veterans and our fascination of aviation. The celebration of veterans and the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our country is at the heart and soul of America’s Freedom Fest.
Goshen and its surrounding communities rally around a deep level of gratitude and appreciation for those who have served and wish to educate area youth of the rich history of our Nation.
Celebrate America was the area’s July 4th fireworks display coupled with an important educational component: an essay contest created to encourage Goshen students to research and write about patriotic elements of our Nation’s history. Goshen resident Al Lane is credited with starting this tradition of educating area youth.
Proceeds raised from the 5k run (which is a component of America’s Freedom Fest) fund a scholarship program for the essay winners. The scholarship dollars sponsor Goshen students on their annual D.C. trip.
While Celebrate America has been a consistent annual tradition, Goshen Municipal Airport had a few hits and misses with its airshows. Given Elkhart County’s highs and lows with its economic challenges during the recession, there was a hiatus on a full airshow. Goshen Airport Manager Randy Sharkey, lifelong area resident, had started a helicopter show, Rotors & Ribs. The show had experienced success for 6 years.
Timing is everything. Just when Celebrate America was looking for a new home for its event, the Goshen Municipal Airport was needing to change up its Rotors & Ribs event. In essence, it was perfect timing, enabling America’s Freedom Fest to be a success thanks to its strong foundation of support.
Having warbirds be an inclusive part of America’s Freedom Fest is a celebrated element of the airshow. Warbirds are vintage military aircraft now operated and preserved by individuals and organizations. This collective of historical aircraft that are in the loving hands of individuals serving as stewards of history, for it takes passionate people to care for America’s history. Planes flown during WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam serve as historical reminders of not only how far we’ve come in aviation technology, but most importantly, they are patriotic symbols of our Nation’s military efforts. Those who own and care for these operational, historic aircraft bring them to Goshen for attendees to see, touch, and feel the history each of these vintage planes represent.
Few have experienced airshows as extensively as Erin Shuttleworth. Erin grew up going to shows, marshaling aircraft as a teenager, and meeting her husband at a T6 fly-in. She is the Executive Director of America’s Freedom Fest, bringing her wealth of experience and lifelong contacts within the airshow ecosystem to this event. Her efforts undoubtedly make Goshen’s airshow one of the best in our Nation.
Every volunteer has a story to share about past community efforts rallied around the July 4th holiday and how they’ve done their part to ensure that 2018 will be bigger and better than 2017. 2017’s event, to be clear, exceeded expectations and confirmed the desire for an event of this magnitude celebrating what the community holds dear: America’s appreciation of its Freedom, and the cost of that freedom that has been paid.