Rock music, craft beer highlight Stars & Stripes this weekend

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published June 27, 2015

 Bert the monkey, left, ride Scooby Blue and Bobo the Monkey ride Sasha in a race June 25. Photo by Erin Sanchez

Bert the monkey, left, ride Scooby Blue and Bobo the Monkey ride Sasha in a race June 25. Photo by Erin Sanchez

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Freedom Hill is counting on a banner year for its annual pre-Independence Day event, the Stars & Stripes Festival June 25-28.

Joe Nieporte, co-owner of festival organizer Funfest Productions Inc., said the festival, now in its third consecutive year at Freedom Hill after a stay in Mount Clemens, features a new layout.

“It takes a few years to kind of see the flow of people,” he explained.

“I think what we’re going to do this year is going to be perfect. We’re expanding the carnival. The carnival is pretty much going to be surrounding the whole event.”

According to organizers, popular attractions include the carnival rides and an art fair. Some of the festival’s other traditional activities are back, including a petting zoo and a “Banana Derby” featuring dog-riding monkeys. A fireworks show will finish off the festival the night of June 28.

New to the event this year is pig racing, Nieporte said, as well as a Craft Beer Village that will feature the products of breweries from Michigan and out of state.

“Obviously, craft beers are extremely popular right now,” Nieporte said. “Basically, when there are large events — even sporting events — people are kind of limited on different choices when it comes to beer.”

Considering the festival’s proximity to Freedom Hill’s amphitheater, music naturally plays a major role in Stars & Stripes. Major acts on the Budweiser National Stage include Sebastian Bach, Warrant, P.O.D., Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts, Hoobastank, and Buckcherry.

Bands that will play on the Pavilion Stage include Rock & Roll Prep School, The Red Ryder Band, The Cover Bandits, Dirty Basement Blues, Totally, Bernadette Kathryn and the Lonely Days Band, JoCaine, Cadre, Drift Lifted, Chit!, Man with a Mission, RockStar, The Highballs, Dave Hamilton, Nikki Holland & The Dirty Elizabeths, Shapes & Colors, Carly Bins, Tommy Marz, Critical Bill, Under the Covers, DTour Band, the Lisa Mary Band, The Chase, Bulletproof Snow, Black Tie Event, Pony Express/Ezra, Short on Shame, and Eastside Elvis.

Nieporte said rock music has proven to be popular at Stars & Stripes, so the major acts fall into that genre. However, the Pavilion Stage at Freedom Hill will have a greater diversity of music styles, he said.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said Stars & Stripes is a signature event that has been popular and successful, particularly among families.

“It’s in a location that is highly visible,” he said. “When you talk about Freedom Hill, that always creates a buzz and a bit of attention. … It also enhances the attraction of the site that it’s on, and that’s Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, as well.”

The 2015 Stars & Stripes Festival will be held June 25-28 at Freedom Hill, 14900 Metropolitan Parkway in Sterling Heights. Festival hours are noon-11 p.m.

On-site parking costs $15, and off-site parking with shuttle service will be free at Meijer, 34835 Utica Road in Fraser, or $10 at Bethesda Christian Church, 14000 Metropolitan Parkway in Sterling Heights.

Learn more about the festival by visiting