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Region Gears Up For Busy Fourth

POLK COUNTY — For the Fourth of July, there really is no better place to be than Polk County.    With hometown pride, barbecues and fireworks displays all weekend, you really can’t go wrong.    There’s something for everyone this year, from art shows to carnivals, beer gardens to keg-tossing competitions, junk food to dunk tanks.    And, of course, the parades.    Grab a pencil and start planning your weekend now to ensure you don’t miss anything.    Falls City really kicks off the weekend with its “Third of July” festivities, culminating in a fireworks show at dusk. It’s the only fireworks show scheduled in the area on Thursday.    The day begins with a short and quite spontaneous small-town parade at 4 p.m. at Falls City High School on North Main Street.    Falls City Administrator Amber Mathiesen said little has changed to this year’s event schedule, except that the parade is scheduled an hour later than normal this year.    “We are condensing the event to encourage people to stay and take advantage of all the fun,” she said.    In addition to carnival games, the festivities in the park will feature live entertainment, including plenty of local musicians.    Third of July performers include: Out of Compliance Duo, Michael Griffitts, Bruce and Larry Sickles, F-N-K Band (Freddy N Kenny), OOC + 2 and BlackStar.    Mathiesen describes the atmosphere in George Kitchen Park (aka Upper Park) between the parade and fireworks as relaxed, “picnic-like.”    “I would describe it as an old-time country fair,” she said. “Old-fashioned family fun.”    For the Fourth, Falls City lets the rest of the county take over the celebrations. ICLIPART.COM/for the Itemizer-Observer Local fireworks displays are scheduled Thursday night in Falls City, Friday night in Dallas, and Friday and Saturday nights in Independence.    With Freedomfest in Dallas and festivities going on in both Main Street and Riverview parks in Monmouth and Independence, it may be tricky to decide where to go and what to see.    Freedomfest, in its second year, has gotten bigger and better. Events go throughout the day on July 4 at Dallas City Park in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.    “I would say wear your bathing suit under your clothes and go swimming in the creek,” said Beth Jones, event originator. “It will be a great day in the park.”    The barbecue competition is sanctioned this year by the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association, and has 14 contestants – including rumors of one group that appeared on TLC’s “BBQ Pitmasters.”    “It will be better than restaurant quality,” Jones said. “This is for the community.”    For the first time in -- no one can quite remember how long -- there will be fireworks in Dallas on the Fourth of July. Fireworks will be at dusk above Roger Jordan Community Park, and should be visible from most homes in Dallas, said Jones, who coordinates Freedomfest in conjunction with the city of Dallas and the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce.    “Part of what I wanted to do was have people in Dallas be able to enjoy (the holiday) without fighting giant crowds,” City Manager Ron Foggin said.    Even with so much going on in Dallas, Monmouth and Independence cannot be discounted over the weekend.    Start the Fourth of July off with a pancake breakfast served up by your local firefighters at Central Station 90 on Monmouth Street in Independence.    Downtown Monmouth or Independence is a great vantage point to watch the annual Monmouth-Independence Rotary Fourth of July Grand Parade at noon on Independence Day. Reserving a spot on the parade route is not only allowed, it’s common practice.    “People put their chairs out days in advance,” said Mark Fancey, Monmouth community development director.    The Grand Parade has between 100 and 150 patriotic entries each year, and is a slice of Americana.    Independence is the place to be for the big event of the evening: Fireworks over the Willamette River.    “The show keeps getting bigger and bigger,” said Keith Aldrich, Western Days fireworks coordinator.    INDEPENDENCE DAY — BY THE NUMBERS    8650    Population, according to 2012 Census, of our own Independence, Oregon, one of 16 U.S. cities that is named Independence.    56    Number of signers to the original Declaration of Independence, which was written in July 1776 in Philadelphia.    $218 million    The value of fireworks imported from China in 2012, representing the bulk of all U.S fireworks imported ($227 million total).    2.1 million    Approximate population of the United States at the time of signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.    318 million    Approximate population of the U.S. entering the 2014 Fourth of July holiday. 76,353 of those are residents of Polk County.    Available in this week's Polk County Itemizer-Observer:    • A guide previewing Polk County’s Fourth of July celebrations and selected events.    Section C    

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