Region gears up for Fourth of July

POLK COUNTY -- When it comes to the Fourth of July, Polk County has four towns hosting four patriotic events, including parades big and small, a barbecue festival, a mini-marathon, plenty of live entertainment and, yes, fireworks.Monmouth, Independence and Falls City all kick off their respective events on Wednesday (today).But it is Falls City that will truly be in full festival mode for its traditional "Third of July Celebration."The vendor fair, with carnival games, plenty of classic comfort food choices and live entertainment, opens at the city's Upper Park at noon."It's a great family event up in the park," said Domenica Protheroe, Falls City's clerk who helps plan the festival.Be sure not to miss the parade -- often a charmingly spontaneous affair -- that will make its way down North Main Street starting at Falls City High School at 3 p.m.The festival will conclude with a bang -- literally -- with Falls City's now-famous fireworks display at dusk."It should be a fabulous event this year," Protheroe said. "It's a lot of fun."Monmouth will kick off its two-day Fourth of July Festival Wednesday at Main Street Park with a plethora of activities for children and adults, plus a farmers market and a beer and wine garden. Photo by Pete Strong Inside Today's I-O -- 2013 Independence Day Celebrations, 24-page full-color guide to the Fourth of July festivities planned in Monmouth, Falls City, Independence and Dallas, complete with schedules of activties and previews of selected events taking place during this year's holiday. Mark Fancey, Monmouth's community development director, said the highlight of day one will be the Willamette Valley Concert Band and the Reconstituted Monmouth-Independence Town Band concert from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.Fancey also encouraged people to come out early July 4 for the classic car show starting at 10 a.m. and stay for the popular Grand Parade. He said one of his favorite times during the festival is just as the parade concludes and music resumes. This year it will be zydeco band Bon Ton Roulet closing out the festival from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m."When the parade ends and they (parade watchers) spill into the park, the energy is so high," Fancey said. "The zydeco music, it goes well with all the activity in the park."If any area event has become synonymous with the Fourth of July, it's Independence's Western Days. The four-day extravaganza runs Wednesday through Sunday, beginning with an outdoor screening of "The Amazing Spiderman" at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday and closing with a community church service at 10 a.m. Sunday.The most anticipated events, of course, happen July 4, with the Mini-Marathon and Grand Parade running through Monmouth and Independence, and live entertainment leading up to the fireworks at 10 p.m.Marilyn Morton, a Western Days commission member, said it's best to stake your spot out early for the parade and fireworks show, and especially for the latter."Bring a chair and blankets," she said, adding the best viewing spot is in Riverview Park and Amphitheater. "People are very respectful if you put down a blanket or chair to mark your spot."There shouldn't be any shortage of activities to occupy your time while waiting for the fireworks to fly, with vendors and a carnival in full swing at the park.Morton even offers a little insider information to the uninitiated: "The elephant ears are to die for," she said.Not to be left out, Dallas is beginning what it hopes will be a new Independence Day tradition with Freedomfest.Developed to give Dallas residents a way to celebrate the holiday without having to leave town, the festival's highlight this year is the "BBQ Throw Down" barbecue contest and community dinner Thursday beginning at 4 p.m.Dallas' new festival, set in Roger Jordan Community Park near the Dallas Aquatic Center, doesn't boast a fireworks display this year, but will have a dog parade and show, carnival games for kids and kickball for adults, discounted admission to the aquatic center, and live music."I'm most excited about the dog show and barbecue contest. I want to be a judge so I can try them all," said event coordinator Beth Jones "I think it's going to be a lot of fun. I want it to be all about the family."


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