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Fourth of July events continue today

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By Calen McKinney

 

There's something for everyone, and the majority of it is free.

Thousands of people come to Taylor County from all over the state to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday.

Organizers have been preparing for the annual Campbellsville/Taylor County Fourth of July Celebration for months now.

Events officially got under way on Saturday morning with the annual 5K run and walk and continued Sunday and today with a gospel singing and golf scramble, respectively. Events will continue on Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday.

Susie Skaggs, chair of this year's celebration, said preparation for the Fourth of July celebration begins shortly after the last one ends.

Last July 9, she said, committee members met to discuss last year's celebration and how they can improve it this year.

"We began immediately afterwards," she said.

The group of about a dozen people meets once a month through March, when they begin meeting twice a month.

And anyone who wants to meet with the group and pitch in with Fourth of July activities is welcome, she said.

"We certainly could use some additional boots on the ground," she said.

The process to plan the Fourth of July celebration begins with finding sponsors. Skaggs said the celebration wouldn't be possible without those sponsors and she and the other committee members thank them for their support.

She said it's difficult to plan activities not knowing whether funds will be there to pay for them. That's where sponsors come in.

After getting sponsors lined up, the committee works toward setting the activities and entertainment lineup.

And Skaggs said there are several improvements and new events for this year's celebration.

At this year's annual 5K race, Skaggs said, organizers used chip timing to get results immediately as runners and walkers finish. And USA Track and Field certified the race this year.

"For anybody that's a serious runner, that's a big deal," Skaggs said.

She said she knows of only one other certified race in the area, the one at the annual Ham Days celebration in Marion County.

The first annual golf scramble will get under way at 1 p.m. today at the Campbellsville Country Club.

Also new this year, Skaggs said, will be a children's stage set up near the west end of Main Street by the former Snappy Tomato building. There will be activities on the stage on Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 3:30 p.m.

Skaggs said there will be a magician, hula-hoop contest and minute-to-win-it type games for all children.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m., Skaggs said, will be the first peddle tractor pull. The event will be at the children's stage and tractors will be supplied.

Another new event, a corn hole tournament, will get under way at noon on Thursday behind the former Snappy Tomato building.

There will be a key grab this year, on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at City Lake. Should someone successfully grab the keys, Skaggs said they could win as much as $5,000.

There will be Music in the Park this year, she said, when events move to the park at 4 p.m. Thursday. The U.S. Army Reserve National Guard 202nd Army Band will perform at 6:30 p.m. and No Deceit will perform at 7:30.

For those who don't want to battle with the crowd to leave the park after the fireworks show, Skaggs said she recommends they stick around for another of the committee's new events.

In keeping with the theme of the day, Skaggs said, the movie "Independence Day" will be screened at the park.

"Bring a blanket and stretch out on the hillside and don't have to worry about the traffic for a while," she said.

Opening ceremonies will begin on Thursday at 8:45 a.m. on the main stage. Skaggs said that is 15 minutes earlier than usual because a special presentation will be made at that time.

In addition to the new events this year, Skaggs said, there are several returning events that have become very popular.

The Family Fun Zone will again be set up near Jackson Tower. There will be many free activities for children.

"That's a favorite," she said.

The annual K-Country Showdown is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

"Everybody likes that," Skaggs said.

The bicycle rodeo, a new event a few years ago, will be Wednesday from 5 to 8:30 p.m. and again Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to help teach children about riding a bicycle safely.

The very popular balloon glow will get under way with tethered rides first at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Taylor County Middle School. The glow will begin at 8:30. Skaggs said there will be about 10 balloons this year.

Campbellsville Christian Church will host a free breakfast again this year, from 7 to 9 a.m. on Thursday.

"Don't want to pass that up," Skaggs said.

As always, Skaggs said, the annual parade draws a large crowd. The grand marshal this year, she said, is the Tebbs Bend Battlefield Association. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the battle at Tebbs Bend.

Skaggs said having association members serve as grand marshal fits perfectly with the celebration's theme of "America's Moments in History."

The annual Duck Derby has been moved this year to City Pool. Skaggs said ducks will race Thursday at 5:30 p.m. down the pool with some help from large fans.

Those who want to get in from the heat can head to Campbellsville University for a performance of "Annie Get Your Gun" at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, military and CU faculty and staff and children age 12 and younger will cost $5.

Taylor County's annual celebration typically attracts several dignitaries and this year's will be no different. Skaggs said U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will attend again and State Rep. John "Bam" Carney, R-Campbellsville, and State Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, have also been invited, as have local officials.

Skaggs said she believes the reason Taylor County's celebration is so large is pretty simple.

"I think that we celebrate our independence," she said. "We just recognize the importance of the date and the meaning behind it. What else would be better to celebrate?"

Skaggs said the Fourth of July celebration is a community event and all of the community should attend.

"And it is something that is family-friendly and it is fun for the whole family," she said. "There's something for everyone.

"We think we've put together something pretty unique."

Skaggs said Taylor County's celebration is one of the largest in the state.

"They can come to watch the parades, hear the singing downtown and at the park, watch all the different festivities, including the fireworks and balloons, and it doesn't cost them a dime," she said. "Also, many of the events are things that people of all ages will enjoy."

For those who have never been to a celebration before, Skaggs said they have much to look forward to.

"They'll find a community event that is one of the largest Fourth of July celebrations in our state that is attended by thousands of people," she said.

"From the picturesque flag lined Main Street and people who have a love of their community as well as those who live elsewhere that attend each year to be a part of or watch the events of the celebration to the colorful balloons and explosive fireworks over city lake.

"They can expect to see a bunch of cute children showing their patriotism in our children's parade and doing their best in the children's peddle tractor pull."

For a complete schedule of this year's Fourth of July celebration events, see the sidebar to this story and a pullout section in the Thursday, June 27, issue.

For more information, visit the Campbellsville/Taylor County Fourth of July Celebration website at www.campbellsvillefourthofjuly.com.

Photos from Fourth of July festivities will be posted in slideshows online at www.cknj.com and published in the Monday, July 8, issue.