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Russell residents ready to celebrate





RUSSELL -- From mud in the morning to fireworks after dark, Russell's annual Freedom Fest strives to offer a fun-filled holiday for the whole family.

Events will begin at 8 a.m. Friday with Dynamite Dash, a 5K featuring muddy obstacles, at LaSada Sporting Clays and Hunting Service south of Russell. Participants are welcome to tackle the obstacle course at their own pace, said Jenny Conn, director of the Russell Area Chamber of Commerce.

"There's even things out there for children," she said. "And some of the obstacles, oh my gosh. ... Some of them, I don't know if I could get over. Definitely don't wear your good clothes, because there's mud involved."

Participants will run in waves starting at 8 a.m. Registration cost is $40, with $10 going to benefit Susan G. Komen Kansas. It is the first year partial proceeds are being donated to a charity, Conn said.

New to this year's race is a 400-yard, high-intensity obstacle run dubbed the Huxman Hustle. Cost to compete is $10, with the top three male and female finishers sharing a 100-percent pay out.

Though it's only 400 yards long, the course boasts eight obstacles, said Micky Johnson, co-chairwoman of this year's Freedom Fest event.

"Everybody that's come out had a really good time," Johnson said of the Dynamite Dash, which drew 270 runners last year.

Activities continue with a barbecue and patriotic program from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Russell VFW. There will be a skit by Daughters of the American Revolution, and a military family not yet identified will be honored by the community.

There also will be activities for children, including balloon animals and a 4 p.m. cake walk.

Remote-control car races kick off at 3 p.m. at Russell County Fairgrounds, followed by inflatables for children, vendors and a beer garden opening at 4 p.m. Prairie Dusters, an equestrian team from Rooks County, will perform a patriotic show at 5 p.m.

For the second consecutive year, the event also features a headline musical act -- country artist Chris Cagle. Concerts start at 6 p.m. with the Jeremy Nichols Band and local band DIRT opening.

Tickets will sell for $15 at the gate or can be purchased for $10 in advance at several Russell businesses. Due to additional sponsorships, this year's prices are significantly lower than last year's, Johnson said.

A concert was added to last year's event as an alternative finale after commercial fireworks were banned at the event two years ago due to dry conditions, Johnson said.

No such worries this year. Organizers have received the OK to end the event with a bang. The fireworks are set to launch at 10 p.m., immediately following Cagle's concert.

"It was such an amazing end to the concert last year," she said of offering both a concert and fireworks. "It just couldn't have worked out more perfect."