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Fourth of July Celebrations
July 02, 2012
MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE -- Nobody in Monmouth or Independence is letting the fact that the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday halt the festivities in the respective towns.
Still, the lack of the extended weekend that normally accompanies July 4 and the fact that the date is sandwiched between two work days has made planning tough for organizers.
"It's leap year," said Marilyn Morton, a spokeswoman for Independence's Western Days. "I blame the Gregorian monks."
Western Days leaders mulled whether to end or begin the four-day celebration on Wednesday, and how to keep people in and around Riverview Park the rest of the week, said Judi Jenkins, vendor coordinator, adding "there wasn't really a good solution."
Attendance this year will probably be somewhat lower overall, she said.
"July Fourth will be good," Jenkins said. "We're not expecting as many folks on Thursday and Friday, and Saturday will pick up again."
The Western Days Commission started planning early to avoid a mid-week Independence Day situation like one that occurred in the mid-2000s.
The semianl event of Independence Western Days is the fireworks display on July 4, but another show is on tap Stuarday evening in Riverview Park.
"It was just dead, we opened at noon on some days and nobody was here," Jenkins recalled.
This year, there will be an evening movie showing and live music in the evening in the park on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Vendors won't open until 2 p.m.
All vendors were required to stay open in the park all four days. As of press time, Jenkins said she had 60 applicants, down from the usual 75.
"We're close (to that). A lot of people do booths as a weekend hobby, so I'm surprised we have as many as we do," she said.
In Monmouth, meanwhile, the city's Fourth of July Festival will be a shortened affair, spanning two days instead of three.
"It's a negative and a positive for us," said Mark Fancey, the city's economic development director. "We don't have as many hours that we have to fill with activity.
"But the two days we do have, we have to keep moving," he noted. "It might be shorter, but we're trying to keep more people concentrated in the downtown on a non-weekend day."
Ironically, this might help attendance.
"Because the Fourth of July isn't on a weekend, there might be more people sticking around home instead of going camping or to the beach," he said.
It's not easy having a community event tied to a holiday, Fancey said.
"But I hear so many stories of grown children coming back home to Monmouth for the Fourth to experience it," Fancey said. "It's quite a tradition and it's here to stay."
In With the Old
* So, what happened to "Independence Days?"
That was the title Independence officials dubbed their July Fourth celebration in 2010as a logical way to link the community and the holiday.
Getting people to abandon the "Western Days" name after almost 40 years, however, didn't pan out, said Keith Aldrich, an event commission member and fireworks coordinator.
"There was confusion, I heard some complaints that people would search for `Western Days' online and couldn't find the website," Aldrich said.
"Me personally, I was habitually calling it Western Days because I had been involved for so many years," Aldrich said with a laugh.
There was also a practical aspect to switching back to the old name; banners, signage and crowd control clothing that have been used in the past on the holiday still say "Western Days," Aldrich said.