|Updated: 2/13/2012 10:05 pm
||Published: 2/13/2012 7:16 pm
BENTON, AR - The City of Benton is officially the new home of the Family Fest. The new festival will be called the Benton Freedom Festival.
News of the move first came Friday night. Held in Bryant for the last 13 years, political arguing over a photo of a beer taken at last year's Family Fest created conflict amongst Bryant city council members and Mayor Jill Dabbs.
Now, Saline County's largest festival will be held at the fairgrounds in Benton and the old municipal airport in conjunction with the Holland Chapel Baptist Church's God and Country Fest.
Benton Mayor David Mattingly says the economic impact could be fairly significant. "All the restaurants, hotels, and gas stations are going to the feel the impact the festival will bring."
James Ballew, the Family Fest creator says there were some issues with a couple of people and some city council members in Bryant. "We're ready to move on and leave all that behind. It's in the past and Benton has welcomed us with open arms and we're excited."
Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs released this email statement about the festival's move: "Replacing this level of entertainment value in any future Bryant festival will be difficult and probably impossible. I congratulate Benton for securing the biggest summer event in Saline County. If not for them, we would have lost this event to another county or city outside of our region. I wish the founders and volunteers of this festival the very best. They have given so much of themselves to the City of Bryant."
Ballew says the Benton Freedom Festival will still be the same program, just held in a new location. "The people are who is going to win." Ballew says typically 30,000 people attend the festival July 3rd and 4th. He says the new location can accommodate more people and parking.
Mattingly says he does not expect any controversy regarding alcohol at the Benton Freedom Festival. He says there is a zero tolerance for alcohol, and all those involved with the festival are clear on that.