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Evansville Freedom Festival

Evansville Freedom Festival Event Busy Beaver Button Museum
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Evansville Freedom Festival back Event Busy Beaver Button Museum
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Gold boat illustration on red, white, and blue flag with red and blue text and white text in blue border, all on white background.

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Evansville Freedom Festival, held in Evansville Indiana, was an annual Fourth of July celebration consisting of food, fun, water sports, and air sports. The main event of the festival from 1979 to 2009 was a hydroplane boat race known as Thunder on the Ohio. Thunder on the Ohio was part of the APBA Unlimited Hydroplane circuit. The winner would receive the Four Freedoms cup, so named for the nearby Four Freedoms Monument commissioned by president Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1989, the winner of the cup was Larry Lauterbach, with his boat the Winston Eagle. To win, Lauterbach had to defeat the favored Budweiser team. The Budweiser team's boat, the Miss Budweiser, was piloted to victory by various Team Budweiser racers sixteen times in the thirty-one years the race took place during the festival. One of those racers, Dave Villwock, holds the record for most cups, with a total of ten victories. 

Since 2010, Thunder on the Ohio has been held as its own event, Evansville Hydrofest, usually taking place in late August. The Evansville Freedom Festival has since been renamed to ShrinersFest, but is still held annually. 


Simmons, D. (2019, May 24). Gallery: Thunder on the Ohio/Hydrofest through the years Freedom Fest. Retrieved April 19, 2020, from

Smith, D. (2017, June 27). HISTORY LESSON: Thunder on the Ohio. Retrieved April 19, 2020, from

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