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Salem hosts Freed Fest

Salem will celebrate the “King of the Moondoggers” this weekend with its fifth Freed Fest.

The festival is named for legendary DJ Alan Freed. His family moved to Salem when he was 10 years old and he graduated from Salem High School in 1940.

Freed often is credited with coining the term “rock ‘n’ roll.” He didn’t invent it, but he popularized the term as a Cleveland DJ in the 1950s, and the Moondog Coronation Ball he organized at the Cleveland Arena in 1952 generally is considered the first rock ‘n’ roll concert.

Freed’s Cleveland ties helped the city land the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and he was part of the first group inducted into the hall in 1988.

This year, the Freed Fest acts performing at McCulloch Park will be on the Alan J. Freed Music Stage. Ben Ratner, owner of LiBs Market and one of the event’s organizer, said it’s the first permanent addition to the city named for the DJ.

“It would be nice if there was an Alan Freed Way or a Rock ‘n’ Roll Alley in Salem,” Ratner said.

While there is live music at a couple Salem venues on Friday and a concert at Waterworth Park featuring the Ovation Band at 6 p.m. Sunday, most of the activities are concentrated on Saturday.

The McCulloch Park stage will feature entertainment from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday with John Fitch, Ron Grey, Diane Drapcho, magician Jason Alan, Curt Conser and Mike Webb scheduled to perform.

The main stage on Broadway Avenue will feature Whiskey Pilot at 2 p.m., Quaker City Cruisers at 3 p.m., David Van Pelt at 4 p.m., Dave & John at 5 p.m., East 9th at 6 p.m., Hayden Brooke and Lexi Kays at 7:15 p.m., Demos Papadimas at 8:30 p.m. and Leo D’Angelo & the Dead Foxes at 9:40 p.m.

In addition to the outdoor stages, a dozen downtown businesses will feature live entertainment on Saturday.

Ratner said Freed Fest grew out of its Second Saturday events to promote downtown and its businesses.

“It’s really just to bring awareness to Salem and its ties (to Freed),” Ratner said. “It’s getting people excited about their hometown and excited there is something to do here.”

If you go …

WHAT: Freed Fest

WHEN: 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday

WHERE: Stages are located at McCulloch Park and on Broadway Avenue in Salem and a dozen local businesses will host live music

HOW MUCH: Admission is free. For more information, go to freedfest.com.

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