Many hundreds of years ago (okay – a little over 25), we became involved in Freedom Weekend Aloft. We were the souvenir vendors. The first year, we created and printed tshirts for children. We got asked (the whole week) for the same design on adult sizes. The year after, we did all tshirts as well as souvenir items such as cups and Frisbees (those didn’t sell at all). We were the souvenir vendor for many years. The first few years were amazing. We had over $50K in sales in the early 2 years. Then things changed.
First, the festival moved from Donaldson Center to Anderson. Many of the food vendors told us that when a festival moves, it becomes history. We followed it there, where the event moved to Memorial Day Weekend from July 4th. That was the first sign. The people with whom we worked were easy and fun. Then it became political.
Then it moved again to the park in Simpsonville. I think we were part of that for 2 years. After that, a “friend” wanted to become the souvenir vendor. We were pushed out. That was okay, because it was such a guessing game, and the last few years were simply not profit making years. The whole idea of the festival became an issue of who knew who, and who was greasing the palm of who. There were too many who’s in the whole process. We still have hundreds of pins – which we attempted to give to the committee – but no response.
We visited on Monday afternoon. For twenty bucks a person (there were two of us), we could go in and see the 5-6 food vendors – there used to be well into the twenty-something vendors. There were no souvenirs. There were a number of trade show like vendor – Bath Fitters, Geico, Banks, Cabela’s. What happened?
This went from being a celebrated event to a weekend carnival. There were only a few rides for people to jump on. It was rather sad to see the dilapidation. I’m amazed that it is still there. We were part of history in the early years. I rode in a few balloons. I worked for the vendor before us – I dated a balloon pilot (or two). Perhaps there are simply too many of these kinds of events. I don’t know. But the window for this one has closed. Got to a move theater, or a real concert. Good bye, Freedom Weekend Aloft.