July 4th celebration events begin Thursday

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By Larry Rowell

Happy 232nd birthday America! And what a party we're having to celebrate. There's everything from parades and fireworks to hot air balloons and food for family fun.

The Campbellsville Fourth of July Celebration Committee has even added a new event this year - hot air balloon rides. The balloon rides will take place during the balloon glow tonight and the race tomorrow, said Greg Gribbins, a member of the committee.

Radio station 99.9 FM, The Big Dawg will offer hour-long balloon rides during the race tomorrow for $250. Weather permitting, Gribbins said, tethered balloon rides will also be offered tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Miller Park for $5.

The theme for this year's event is "Celebrating the Life of Lincoln." Co-grand marshals for the parade will be local historian Betty Jane Gorin-Smith and Abe Lincoln look-a-like Roger Land, Gribbins said.

Attendance is expected to be high, and parking in the downtown area will be at a premium, he said.

Two shuttles will run today and tomorrow from designated parking lots, and Gribbins said the committee is encouraging people to use the free service. Signs will be posted at the lots listing the shuttle schedules.

Shuttle parking will be available at Campbellsville Christian Church parking lot, on the Campbellsville University campus across from Winters Dining Hall on Columbia Avenue and at the Central Plaza shopping center.

Shuttles will be making stops at various locations in the downtown area and at Campbellsville University. Shuttle stops include the corner of North Jackson Street and Main Street for the Family Fun Zone and arts and crafts booths, Commercial Street for the food court, the corner of First Street and Columbia Avenue for the marketplace, tractor show and Civil War encampment and the main entrance to Campbellsville University for the hot air balloon events and car show.

The City and the Fourth of July committee purchased the material to build the shuttles. Green County Technical School students designed and welded the shuttles for free, Gribbins said, saving the committee a considerable sum of money.

Today's activities run from 5 to 8 p.m. in the downtown area. Arts and crafts dealers, the Amazon.com food court and Downtown Market Place vendors will showcase their wares.

The reenactment of a Civil War encampment takes place near the Taylor County Courthouse from 5 to 8 p.m. today and from 7 to 9 a.m. tomorrow. Members of the Hamilton Guard Unit from Somerset will demonstrate how a Civil War military camp operated.

The Living Grace Church Family Fun Zone, in front of Jackson Tower from 5 to 8 p.m. today and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow, offers children's games, inflatables and other fun family activities - all free.

The Big Dawg hot air balloon lift-off begins at 7 p.m. Weather permitting, giant balloons will leave the Campbellsville University campus and fly around Campbellsville.

Musical entertainment kicks off on the Windstream main stage at 6:30 p.m. featuring Living Waters, line dancing with the Hardwood Kickers and New Beginning.

Today's final two events are the Taylor Regional Hospital Children's Parade at 6:30 p.m. and Amazon.com's balloon glow at 8:30 p.m. presented by the Big Dawg at Taylor County High School.

The children's parade, open to children 12 and under for non-motorized theme floats, will begin at Campbellsville High School and travel up Main Street to the Living Grace Church Family Fun Zone.

Though pre-registration isn't required to enter the children's parade, it is necessary to win a prize, Gribbins said.

The balloon glow will light up the night when the balloons inflate in all their colors in front of TCHS on Broadway.

Friday's activities begin bright and early at 7 a.m. with the start of the Campbellsville University hot air balloon race presented by the Big Dawg with lift-off at CU.

More than a dozen balloons will compete for prize money by following a "chase balloon" around Campbellsville.

Everyone is invited to the free breakfast at Campbellsville Christian Church at 7:30 a.m.

Just after breakfast at 8 a.m., Taylor Regional Hospital is sponsoring a 5K run and 1K walk at Campbellsville University.

The Downtown Market Place, sponsored by the Downtown Business Association, opens at 8 a.m. with arts and crafts sales, game areas and Amazon.com food court.

Open entertainment begins at 8 a.m. on the Windstream stage as well as the car, truck and motorcycle show at Campbellsville University sponsored by the Tri-County Car Club.

The Rotary Club 3-on-3 basketball tournament runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Campbellsville High School.

On the Windstream stage from 9 to 9:30 a.m., the Taylor County Show Choir will perform. Politicians and dignitaries will be introduced at 9:30.

Bruce Lunsford, a Democratic candidate vying for the Senate seat held by Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, will participate in the parade, Gribbins said.

The Taylor County Bank parade begins at 10 a.m. Motorized floats and vehicles should report to the Broadway entrance of the old Fruit of the Loom parking lot at 9 a.m. Horse riders should gather at Federal Place and walkers assemble at Campbellsville High School parking lot by 9 a.m.

A $500 first prize will be awarded to the winner of the AutoSmart float contest, Gribbins said.

The Q-104 barbecue competition heats up at noon near the food court as cooking teams compete for a $500 first prize. The Community Trust Bank Antique Tractor and Steam Engine Show, featuring dozens of antique tractors, also starts at noon.

The afternoon activities continue with live entertainment on the Windstream stage from noon to 4 p.m. featuring line dancing at 12:30 p.m., a dulcimer group at 1 p.m., a Civil War group at 1:30 p.m., Gifted Soul at 2 p.m. and Green River Grass at 3 p.m.

Forcht Bank's corn hole tournament begins at 1 p.m. near Campbellsville High School. The tournament will be double elimination with prize money awarded to the first- and second-place teams based on the number of entries. All profits go to the Diamond Club at Campbellsville High School.

The Civil War reenactment of the Magruder Raid takes place at 1:30 p.m. on Main Street. Reenactors from Somerset and Springfield will fight a battle that occurred in Campbellsville during the Civil War.

The food court reopens at 4 p.m. at Miller Park, followed by entertainment at the gazebo at 5 p.m. and the fourth annual Central Kentucky News-Journal Duck Derby at 6 p.m. at Trace Creek.

Ducks may be purchased for $5 each. All proceeds will be divided evenly between Taylor County Crisis Relief Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Each duck is stamped with a number and the ducks will be released in Trace Creek. The first duck to cross the finish line wins its purchaser a big-screen TV donated by Coppock Appliance and Electronics. Ducks can be purchased downtown Thursday and Friday.

The night is capped off by the Citizens Bank fireworks show at dusk in Miller Park. Gribbins said the committee encourages people to stop by the food court and purchase dinner and then picnic in the park before the fireworks start.

The Fourth of July celebration officially ends with the annual gospel singing at Campbellsville Baptist Church Sunday July 6 at 6:30 p.m.

- Larry Rowell is a Kentucky Press Association summer intern. Contact him at lrowell@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.