Freedom isn't free, and neither is America's Freedom Festival at Provo.

Corporate money, city dollars and volunteer time are sacrificed to make the festival one of the most popular Fourth of July celebrations in the Mountain West, as rated by National Geographic magazine.David McDougal, president of the 1989 America's Freedom Festival, said the festival maintains consistent quality because of its more than 2,000 volunteers and generous contributions from local, state and national corporations.

"Volunteers and corporate sponsors are the strength of the festival. We get a heavy, heavy commitment from these people," McDougal said. "Many people think our committee volunteers do it for the prestige. But there are a lot of long hours, making our reward about 3 percent prestige and 97 percent perspiration."

"This is the most successful festival in the state, even above the Days of '47. It is a significant event, and that is why we get national coverage," Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins said.

"You are going to have a quality event anytime you have people willing to spend hundreds of hours in public service," he said.

Financial support comes through community participation and from corporate sponsors, including AT&T, Coca Cola, Geneva Steel, KSL, the Liberty Mint, Howard Ruff and others. About 10 percent of the ticket take from Alan Osmond's Panorama also goes to support festival activities.

But it's people like Mary Bethers, who continues to volunteer year after year, who make the festival a success.

"This is the ninth year I will be doing the concert series, and I love it. It is the frosting on my little cake of life," Bethers said.

Denise Bronson has worked on the baby contest for six years. During that time the contest has grown from just over 200 to nearly 1,000 contestants.

"Even with some of the problems last year, the executive committee was so supportive. It doesn't matter if people think one activity is more prestigious than another, the executive committee treats us with equal support and respect," Bronson said.

But if prestige is what you want, just talk to Suzanne Borchards, chairman of the triathlon, which became a festival event last year. In its first year it made $15,000 for the festival with several hundred athletes participating from throughout the world.

The Freedom Festival triathlon is now one of the premier races in the United States and will send 20 qualifiers to the Iron Man race in Hawaii, the granddaddy of all triathlons.

The Fourth of July wouldn't be the same without some fast-pace, high-stepping, toe-tapping clogging. Dennis Cobia, a 13-year veteran, has built the clogging festival into a Freedom Festival tradition.

With the Freedom Festival growing every year - this year it features 30 events - it has been almost impossible for a year to go by without a few problems. One year there was a major injury to a festival participant. Another year the festival lost thousands of dollars. This year there are concerns about Geneva's corporate donation, the functions of the executive committee, route changes for the grand parade and the perennial question - who pays when the festival loses?

"In the past five years the festival has made money two years and lost three years, but it's not really a loss," Jenkins said. "This celebration generates enough sales tax revenue to more than offset any Freedom Festival losses."

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