Free State Festival to bring comedy, activists and much more to Lawrence

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The Free State Festival returns to Lawrence starting Monday, and the event lineup features a wide variety of film screenings, cultures and musical performances.

Produced by the Lawrence Arts Center, the annual festival “celebrates the free spirit of the state of Kansas with films that challenge, inspire, and entertain,” according to the festival’s website.


Independent films, live music, comedy and art will be highlighted across multiple venues in Lawrence, including the arts center, Liberty Hall and Lawrence Public Library. Filmmakers Boots Riley and Kevin Willmott, comedian Chris Estrada, activist Janet Murguía, musicians DJ Spooky, BLKBOK and Bad Alaskan and more will share their talents and passions. Lawrence chefs and restaurants will offer food during many of the events.

The 2023 Free State Festival is scheduled for Monday, June 26 through Sunday, July 2. There are events scheduled every day of the week.

A free screening of “Gumbo Coalition,” a documentary following civil rights leaders Marc Morial and Janet Murguía, kicks off the festival at 7 p.m. Monday at the Dole Institute of Politics, 2350 Petefish Drive. It will be followed by a Q&A with Murguía.

Visit the festival’s website,, to see the full lineup of events.


Festival passes that give attendees access to all events are sold out, according to the website, but those interested in attending can still purchase tickets to individual events. Those who have already purchased all-access passes must be present 30 minutes prior to show times and have their passes with them to ensure being admitted, according to the website.

Individual tickets to events vary in cost, from free up to $25. Visit the schedule lineup on the website to choose events and purchase tickets.

Learn more about the festival, and stay updated with event details and changes at the website,, and Twitter account, @FreeStateFest. For questions, email

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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