Free State Festival has 2-part plan to return in 2021; outdoor film, comedy, music events set for June

After dealing with pandemic disruptions last year, Lawrence’s Free State Festival has a two-part plan for making a return this year.

Part one will be a series of outdoor events from June 21 through 27, the Lawrence Arts Center and festival organizers announced on Wednesday. Plans call for outdoor movies, comedy and live music in open-air environments around Lawrence.

On the schedule thus far: a screening of Lawrence filmmaker Kevin Willmott’s new movie, “The 24th”; a retrospective screening of the movie “Hairspray”; a showing of “End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock”; and a presentation of several short films that will have live musical scores and interpretative audio descriptions. A full schedule is expected to be released May 1 at

Part two of the festival will occur later in 2021 when larger indoor gatherings are deemed to be safe under COVID-19 protocols. Those tentative plans call for an appearance by filmmaker and rapper Boots Riley, comedian Cameron Esposito and longtime filmmaker John Waters, who wrote and directed the 1988 film “Hairspray,” which went on to become a major Broadway production.

Festival organizers hope to announce dates for the indoor portion of the festival later this summer.


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