FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Families looking for a good time this Fourth of July can expect big things from Fort Rucker, according to Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation officials.

The annual Freedom Fest event is from 4-10 p.m. July 2 at the Fort Rucker festival fields and features a variety of things for attendees to enjoy, including a special performance from the Lt. Dan Band featuring Forrest Gump and CSI: New York star Gary Sinise.

“Last year, approximately 25,000-28,000 people attended and those numbers are expected to increase because Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band are headlining this year’s event,” said Kimberly Abeln, DFMWR annual events coordinator. “There are also dozens of new vendors this year that will expand the culinary delights available as well as expand the arts and crafts available for purchase.”

Janice Erdlitz, DFMWR marketing manager, said having the Lt. Dan Band is going to be a great boost for Soldiers and their Families.

“We are very excited about USO and Army Entertainment bringing Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band to Freedom Fest this year,” she said. “Gary puts on an awesome show. We all know and love Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump and what a great treat to have such a military supporter as Gary Sinise being a part of our event this year.”

Attendees will also have additional activities to participate in such as pony rides and a wrecking ball ride, which can seat the whole Family, Abeln added. Old favorites such as the rock wall, mechanical bull, spider mountain bungee, Kid’s Zone with lots of inflatables and static aircraft displays will also be featured.

Following the Lt. Dan Band’s performance, attendees will be treated to a large fireworks display, Abeln said.

“It is expected to be as amazing as last year’s show,” she said. “The fireworks are choreographed with music, which makes it an exciting show.”

Erdlitz said she’s most looking forward to the fireworks, as she does every year.

“For me, it’s all about the fireworks; laying back on my picnic blanket and watching the fireworks under the Alabama sky,” she said. “That is what makes Freedom Fest for me.”

However, Erdlitz said the event is more than just vendors, static displays and fireworks. It’s about people and coming together to celebrate our nation.

“For many, there is no better way to celebrate our nation’s freedom than by being a part of a military installation’s celebration,” she said. “I think Freedom Fest has the ability to pull at our patriotic heart strings. It’s an event like no other with thousands of people joined together to enjoy the splendors of all things that make our nation so great.”

Prior to Freedom Fest, the Independence Day Pool Party takes place at Splash! Pool behind The Landing Zone from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Erdlitz added.

“It’s definitely a great way to start the day off with the pool party and then over to the festival fields for Freedom Fest,” she said.

The event is free and open to the public, Erdlitz said. The only cost will be associated with vendors and the Kid’s Zone. There will be $10 unlimited play wristbands in the fun zone area or $8 for two or more. There will also be $1 individual event tickets available.

For more information on Freedom Fest, call 255-1749 or 255-2292. For more information on the Independence Day Pool Party, call 598-8025.