Thousands watch the 30-minute-long fireworks show at the end of Freedom Fest June 23, 2023, at Phantom Warrior Stadium on Fort Cavazos. The event was free and open to the public. During the event, attendees could browse around different vendor booths, choose between food trucks with different varieties of food and enjoy entertainment by Bowling for Soup, Tone Loc and Vanilla Ice. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs)
Thousands watch the 30-minute-long fireworks show at the end of Freedom Fest June 23, 2023, at Phantom Warrior Stadium on Fort Cavazos. The event was free and open to the public. During the event, attendees could browse around different vendor booths, choose between food trucks with different varieties of food and enjoy entertainment by Bowling for Soup, Tone Loc and Vanilla Ice. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: Blair Dupre) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — The annual Freedom Fest celebration drew thousands of members of the Fort Cavazos community to the Great Place to celebrate America’s independence.

Freedom Fest began with a Salute to the Nation ceremony where each state was recognized. The ceremony hadn’t been performed for four years. Then, attendees enjoyed browsing around different vendor booths, eating food and stellar entertainment.

Rock band Bowling for Soup was the opening act and lead singer Jaret Reddick said, on the Great Big Podcast, that the band has performed for military members for years all around the world and it’s been a rewarding experience.

“Being able to put smiles on (service members) faces and for the officers to come up and say, ‘Man, it is so great to see everybody smiling and having a good time,’ that’s what’s been great,” he said. “First and foremost, it’s amazing to (travel and perform) for the men and women who keep us all safe.”

Bowling for Soup lead singer Jaret Reddick listens to the crowd cheer during the band's performance at Freedom Fest June 23, 2023, at Fort Cavazos. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs)
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Bowling for Soup lead singer Jaret Reddick listens to the crowd cheer during the band's performance at Freedom Fest June 23, 2023, at Fort Cavazos. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: Blair Dupre) VIEW ORIGINAL
Tone Loc hypes up the crowd as he takes the stage during Freedom Fest June 23 on Fort Cavazos. He is known for his hits "Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina." (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs)
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Tone Loc hypes up the crowd as he takes the stage during Freedom Fest June 23 on Fort Cavazos. He is known for his hits "Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina." (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: Blair Dupre) VIEW ORIGINAL
Vanilla Ice points to the crowd during his performance at Freedom Fest June 23 at Fort Cavazos. He performed hits including "Ice Ice Baby." (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs)
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Vanilla Ice points to the crowd during his performance at Freedom Fest June 23 at Fort Cavazos. He performed hits including "Ice Ice Baby." (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: Blair Dupre) VIEW ORIGINAL

Reddick shared that his family has served in the military and the wife of their bass player, Rob Felicetti, is currently serving in the Navy, which is why they jump at opportunities to perform for service members.

“My dad served and his brother is still missing from the Korean war … we definitely understand the sacrifice and we’re super happy anytime we get the chance to come in and give somebody a half-hour or hour of smiles,” he said. “It’s just the best.”

Tone Loc and Vanilla Ice also took the stage to entertain the attendees, then the night was wrapped up with a 30-minute long fireworks show. Jessica Weiss and her son showed up early, with their Vanilla Ice shirts, to ensure they had a great spot to watch both the entertainment and fireworks.

Hundreds of people gather near the stage at Freedom Fest June 23, 2023, at the Phantom Warrior Stadium on Fort Cavazos. (U.S. Army photo by Eric Franklin, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs)
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Hundreds of people gather near the stage at Freedom Fest June 23, 2023, at the Phantom Warrior Stadium on Fort Cavazos. (U.S. Army photo by Eric Franklin, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
In the Salute to the Nation ceremony, each state's flag was flown as the date they joined the union was read, followed by a single shot from a canon. This was the first time the ceremony had been performed in four years here. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs)
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – In the Salute to the Nation ceremony, each state's flag was flown as the date they joined the union was read, followed by a single shot from a canon. This was the first time the ceremony had been performed in four years here. (U.S. Army photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: Blair Dupre) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Honestly, you can’t go wrong with fireworks or Vanilla Ice,” she said.

Dr. Peter Craig, director of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said Freedom Fest is a great opportunity to give back to the community that gives so much to Fort Cavazos throughout the year.

“This is a chance for us to give back to the community,” Craig said. “The Killeen community, Cove, Belton, everybody all along here — they all support us throughout the year.”

After the Salute to the Nation ceremony, Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, III Armored Corps and Fort Cavazos commanding general, asked three things of the attendees.

“One, take a little bit of time between now and the Fourth of July to think about our forefathers and the courage and bravery it took for them to stand up and say, ‘We’re going to declare our independence from the British Empire and we’re going to build a new nation,’” he said. “That took guts and courage… Two, during this upcoming, four-day, holiday weekend please spend some time with those you love. Three, while you do that, please be safe and take care of each other.”