MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE -- Two towns plus two festivals equal one of the biggest Fourth of July celebrations in the Willamette Valley.
An extended weekend filled with fun, food and fireworks is what's in store in Polk County during this year's Independence Days and Monmouth Fourth of July Festival.
The two celebrations will be highlighted by a dazzling and ear-shattering fireworks display over the Willamette River at Riverview Park in Independence Sunday, July 4, at 10 p.m.
Formerly known as Western Days, the two communities have each given their part of the Fourth of July spectacular its own name and each is responsible for its own events.
In Monmouth, city leaders have ramped up planning and dedicated more funding in 2010 to make the holiday more memorable in the community.
"We hear there are upwards of 8,000 and 10,000 people here lining the entire parade route, so we thought it would be great to have something drawing crowds during the entire weekend," said Monmouth Community Development Director Mark Fancey.
The "Monmouth Fourth of July Festival," as it is now officially called, will run July 2-4. It will feature a broad assortment of live music, art activities and a beer and wine garden at Main Street Park.
The city is spending $15,000 from its tourism budget on the festival this year.
About 30 food and craft vendor booths open in the park on Friday, July 2, at 11 a.m. There will be free art activities and a bounce house for children, and live music begins at noon.
A spaghetti feed at the nearby Monmouth Senior Center is planned from 5 to 7 p.m. on July 2, followed by Dixieland music and a traditional patriotic concert back at the park.
"Art Day in the Park" takes place Saturday, July 3, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and includes a free Arctic mask painting demonstration and an art show at Volunteer Hall.
"We wanted to build this off the historical foundation Monmouth started with the arts," said Fancey. "But beyond that, we wanted to expand the use of the park, as the east half seems to get neglected."
On July 4, a church service runs from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the park. The Grand Parade, which starts on Monmouth Avenue near Western Oregon University before making its way down Main Street, will follow at noon, preceded by the Children's Parade and the annual mini-marathon fun run. Military equipment and classic cars will be on display in the downtown area. Live music in the park will be performed from 1:30 to 6 p.m.
The four-day Fourth of July holiday celebration in Independence, now known as Independence Days, may have a new name, but little else has changed about the small-town festival.
"In general, everybody loves it so much there isn't a lot of reason to make sweeping changes," said Andrew Wynings, Independence Days committee chairman.
The fun starts on Thursday, July 1, at Riverview Park with Youth Night, featuring the opening of the carnival and vendor booths, live music beginning at 6:30 p.m., and a free movie showing of "The Blind Side" at 10 p.m.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the carnival and vendor areas will open at noon. Music starts at 6 p.m. Friday, and Saturday and Sunday will feature two stages with music and entertainment scheduled throughout the two days. Saturday's events include the "Hometown Fireworks Display" at 10 p.m.
A traditional July 4 will be highlighted by a big fireworks show over the river in Riverview Park. After the show finale, River City Band will end the celebration, playing the main amphitheater stage until 11:30 p.m.
With plenty of activities to choose from, organizers believe people will find something fun at Independence Days.
"We hope everyone takes advantage of everything they can to celebrate the holiday," Wynings said.