I Love America Independence Day Liberty Festival and Freedom Celebration
Thursday; Liberty Festival 2 to 7 p.m.; Freedom Celebration at 7:30 p.m.; Bakersfield College. Daytime festival is free. Tickets for the fireworks show range from $5 to $12 in advance; $7 to $12 at the gate.
After four years of silence and clear skies, fireworks will light up the night at Bakersfield College, for this year at least. Whether the tradition is re-established on an annual basis remains to be seen.
Vision Corps, Inc., a partnership between former Bakersfield resident Rick Moore and Oregon resident Glenn Colangelo, is producing what the partners hope will be the first annual "I Love America" Liberty Festival and Freedom Celebration, two separate, but related events taking place at the BC campus in northeast Bakersfield on Thursday.
The Liberty Festival, which starts at 2 p.m., offers games, food and contests on the green just north of Memorial Stadium. The Freedom Celebration, which includes the fireworks show, starts at 7:30 p.m. inside the stadium. Admission to the daytime festival is free; tickets for the evening event run from $5 to $12 in advance; $7 to $15 at the gate.
Moore said his company isn't new to producing these types of events, nor is this his first attempt at a large-scale patriotic event. From 1988 to 1999, Moore served as music director at Canyon Hills, producing such events as "A Glorious Christmas" and "The Splendor of Easter." Moore, who now lives in Washington County, Tenn., also produced two patriotic shows at Mesa Marin in the early 1990s.
"It was something we really enjoyed doing here, and we really liked the productions," Moore said.
"This show is very similar. This one is just a little bigger -- Mesa Marin held 8,000 people, and Memorial Stadium holds almost 20,000 -- and we've added the Liberty Festival."
For 54 years, the Bakersfield Firefighters' Relief Association sponsored its annual "Red, White and Boom" fireworks show, but canceled it four years ago because of dwindling ticket sales. Moore said ticket sales are the key to whether the "I Love America" show will be a permanent replacement.
"People love to sit and watch the fireworks, and they're unhappy when they can't see them," said Moore, who noted that over the years, many spectators opted for sitting outside of Memorial Stadium to catch at least the biggest pyrotechnics.
"The folks that come inside and buy the tickets -- they're the ones who decide if this continues," Moore said.
The daytime Liberty Festival includes food and games and several competitions: Beautiful Bakersfield Baby contest for children under 3 years; Young Patriot contest, a costume competition for children ages 3-10; Bakersfield Singing Star for children ages 8 and older; Patriotic Photo competition for all ages, and Best Dressed Bicycle, also open to competitors of all ages. Moore said most of the contests require prior registration at the event website; the bicycle event will accept walk-on competitors at the festival.
The evening show will include a "Singing Flag" and a ceremony honoring returning military and veterans in addition to the fireworks show, which will be produced by Garden State Fireworks.
"It's just fun," Moore said. "It's all very patriotic; it's all electronically fired and coordinated with the music."
Like the previous shows, the "I Love America" events have a charitable cause to support. Moore said this year, proceeds from the ticket sales will go to the Bakersfield Gleaners.
-- Susan Scaffidi, contributing writer
The Fourth at River Walk Independence Day Celebration
Thursday; 5 to 9:30 p.m. The Park at River Walk, 11289 Stockdale Highway. Free. 852-7300
The Fourth at River Walk Independence Day Celebration is back for its second year, this time with a bang.
Last year's inaugural event was big on family fun but short on sparks due to the lack of a corporate sponsor for the pyrotechnics, but Dignity Health Mercy and Memorial Hospitals made sure money wasn't an issue for 2013.
"Without them stepping up and being the sponsor for the event and the fireworks, we wouldn't have the event all," said Rabobank Arena assistant general manager Ed Dorsey. "We thank them very much."
The event will kick off with live musical entertainment by local favorites Foster Campbell & Friends and the Sunnyside Jazz Band, sponsored by Bright House Networks. The event will feature several children's games and activities for a nominal fee, as well as food for purchase from Hot N' Smokin' BBQ, Carnie Kettle Korn and Shaved Ice, Brazilian Hot Dogs, Ben & Jerry's and La Vaca Flaca.
According to Dorsey, the fireworks show will begin around 9:15 p.m. and last for 17 to 20 minutes.
The city estimated the turnout for last year's event was 1,500 people, a number Dorsey expects to at least double with the addition of the fireworks display.
"We wanted to do a citywide celebration," Dorsey said. "That's why we started it last year, and wanted it to grow this year."
With so many expected, attendees are encouraged to carpool or, weather permitting, ride their bikes to the event. Visitors will be able to park in the main lot, with overflow parking available on the lot located at the corner of Buena Vista Road and Stockdale Highway. Bike Bakersfield will be providing a bike valet service for cyclists.
Attendees may bring their own picnic dinners into the free event, but outside fireworks are prohibited. Alcoholic beverages require a park permit and valid I.D. for those 21 and over. Permits for the event must be obtained from the Bakersfield Recreation and Parks Department by 1 p.m. July 2. Those anticipating a spot in the park's designated picnic shelters are to make an in-person reservation with the parks department also. Areas outside the reserved shelters are open to all.
-- Patricia Rocha, Californian staff writer
Shafter's Annual 4th of July Fireworks show
Wednesday; gates open 6 p.m., fireworks at 9 p.m.; Shafter High School Football field, 526 Mannel Ave., Shafter. Free. 746-2600
This beloved Independence Eve tradition -- which draws folks from surrounding communities like Bakersfield -- has been held for more than 50 years.
Carnie Kettle Corn will supply the traditional Independence Day snacks, such as kettle corn, funnel cakes, and snow cones for purchase, while Itoyz will sell lighted toys. Bounce houses will be available for children.
Shafter chamber board president Debbe Haley said it's the family friendly, alcohol-free atmosphere and an all-around great show that keep the tradition going.
"Usual turnout is 7,000 to 8,000 people on the grounds of the football stadium and the recreation complex combined," she said in an email. "Several thousand more watch from their nearby yards."
She suggested attendees bring blankets and folding chairs to the event, which opens at 6 p.m., with the fireworks show starting at 9 p.m.
"Donations are accepted at the gate, which allow us to continue year after year," Haley said. "...Because our event is July 3, that leaves July 4 open for other celebrations."
Taft Fireworks Show/Fourth of July Family Picnic
Fireworks show: Wednesday; gates open at 6 p.m., fireworks at 9 p.m. Sixth Street between Main Street and Supply Row, Taft. Show free; $5 for concert and beer garden area. 765-2165
Third annual Fourth of July Family Picnic: Thursday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sixth Street between Main Street and Supply Row, Taft. Free. 765-2165 or taftchamber.com
Shannon Jones, event coordinator for the Taft Chamber of Commerce, expects a large turnout at the city's fireworks extravaganza, which features live entertainment, several food and craft vendors as well as a 20-minute fireworks show.
"Truxton Mile, Kayla Schuyler and the Cadillac Angels will perform at the stage on Sixth Street and Main Street before and after the show," Jones said about the night's pre-fireworks entertainment. "There is a $5 cover charge into the reserved concert area and beer garden."
Local food vendors will sell items like tacos, Mexican food, tri-tip, hot dogs, snow cones, ice cream, and cotton candy. Non-food vendors will be on hand as well.
"It is a really cool thing to be able to bring the kids down and show them an amazing fireworks display," said Jones. "The Taft Chamber of Commerce has worked with local businesses to raise money to be able to provide this event for no charge."
The next day, the fun continues in Taft with the third annual Fourth of July Family Picnic.
The picnic will feature a watermelon-eating contest, a children's bike parade, waterslides and multiple business and craft vendors. Food vendors will offer tacos, hot dogs, ice cream, cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones and drinks. The event drew around 300 attendees last year.
Tehachapi Fourth of July Music & Fireworks
Thursday; gates open 4 p.m., show at 5 p.m., fireworks at 9 p.m. Coy Burnett Stadium, Tehachapi Boulevard, Tehachapi. Free. 821-7511
The Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra will feature show tunes, movie music, patriotic songs, and light classical music at the annual Fourth of July Music and Fireworks event.
The orchestra has put on an Independence Day outdoor concert for all 15 years the orchestra has been in business. It began as a concert in City Park and then about six years ago, the orchestra moved to the stadium to perform in conjunction with the city's firework's show, which averages about 2,000 attendees.
Bringing a picnic dinner, blanket or lawn chair is recommended. Though there will be no vendors present at the show itself, food and business vendors will be set up in Central Park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Food items being offered for sale include shaved ice, tacos, sandwiches, pizza and more.
-- Compiled by Eye Street staffers Patricia Rocha and Estella Aguilar
More patriotic events
Bakersfield Winds Patriotic Concert, 7:30 p.m., Olive Drive Church, 5500 Olive Drive; Free or $5 donation; 805-2692
Buttonwillow Fireworks Show, games, entertainment, food, fireworks begin around 9 p.m., Buttonwillow Elementary School, 42600 Hwy. 58, Buttonwillow. Free. 764-5205.
Bakersfield Blaze vs. Lake Elsinore, 7:45 p.m. (with a fireworks show to follow the game), Sam Lynn Ballpark, 4009 Chester Ave. $7-$12. bakersfieldblaze.com or 716-HITS.
Old Fashioned Fourth of July, tug-o-war, sack races, three-legged races, egg toss, pie eating contest, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Fort Tejon State Historic Park, off Interstate 5 just north of Lebec. Bring a picnic lunch. $7 adults, $3 children, free for children 6 and under. 248-6692.
Star Spangled Spectacular Fireworks Show, hosted by Kiwanis Club of Delano, begins at dusk, Delano Airport, 1212 Airport Dr., Delano. Free. 725-2518.
Fireworks Show by the Lake, 9 p.m., Engineer Point, Highway 155, Lake Isabella. Free. 760-379-5236.
NASCAR & KUZZ Fireworks Night, Pro Late Models 100, CITGO Lubricants Late Models 50, Mini Stocks, Legends, Bandoleros, 6 p.m., Kern County Raceway Park, 13500 Raceway Boulevard. $8-$45. Email email@example.com or 835-1264.