Stars & Stripes Festival bounced from Freedom Hill

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Organizers of the Stars & Stripes Festival at Freedom Hill have been told by Palace Sports & Entertainment to find a new home for their popular summertime event this year.

“Stars & Stripes Festival will not be returning to Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill in 2017 and we are actively pursuing concert bookings for those dates,” said The Palace in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “We engaged Funfest Productions with a proposal to jointly operate the festival and keep it at Freedom Hill, but an agreement that satisfied both organizations could not be reached.”

Funfest Productions has organized the free Fourth of July weekend festival for the past decade, and moved it from downtown Mount Clemens to Freedom Hill in 2013. Funfest president Joe Neiporte says he was hoping Freedom Hill, which has been managed by Palace Sports & Entertainment since 2015, would be the permanent home for Stars & Stripes.

“Our home base is in Macomb County,” Neiporte said in a statement released Wednesday. “We are saddened by this news and the loss to the local community and charities that have been involved with us from the beginning.”

It’s likely that Stars & Strips will leave Macomb County. Funfest Events has been negotiation with other sites to hold the event, and top options are all in Oakland County.

According to Funfest, Stars & Stripes draws more than 500,000 people per year and has helped raise $500,000 for non-profit charities since its inception. The event has fireworks, a carnival and free concerts with local and national acts. Last summer headliners included classic rockers Styx, Michigan-based country/rock group Uncle Kracker and rock band Seether.

Funfest, which was hired to manage and reopen Freedom Hill Amphitheatre in 2013 says the festival was profitable for the venue’s owners.

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Twitter: @melodybaetens