Local 4th of July events to light up the area skies

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Shell Knob, Eagle Rock, Seligman, Wheaton to host celebrations

Three southwest Missouri cities are gearing up for 4th of July celebrations, with each celebration culminating in fireworks shows.

The Shell Knob Chamber of Commerce is hosting its 35th annual fireworks show on July 4, and Karen Elsey, Shell Knob Chamber of Commerce director, said this year's show will be better than ever.

"The fireworks show should last about 20-25 minutes, and it will be 25 percent bigger this year because we spent a little more money on it," she said. "It's a terrific opportunity to showcase Shell Knob's community spirit, as well as our national patriotism. It's also a good time to show off our beautiful lake."

Elsey said about 500 boats will likely take to Table Rock Lake on July 4, with a parade beginning between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., and the fireworks show to begin at 9:30 p.m.

"Decorated boats or non-decorated boats, everyone is welcome," Elsey said. "The best viewing area is by boat because of how tall the trees are, but people on land may get a good view from the CCC Park on Hwy. YY."

Elsey said the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Shell Knob is asking boaters to be patient in leaving after the fireworks end, and to observe the buoy markers to avoid fireworks debris.

"The Coast Guard, Missouri State Water Patrol, Barry County Sheriff's Department and Corps of Engineers will be monitoring the lake and the land for everyone's safety," Elsey said.

The Shell Knob Chamber of Commerce provides funding for the fireworks by using chamber money, money from 4th of July T-shirt sales, and donations.

On another part of Table Rock Lake, the Eagle Rock Fire Department will also be celebrating the national holiday with its 8th Annual Fired Up and Smokin'.

Mark Pierson, Eagle Rock fire chief, said on July 5, the department will host a barbecue at Fire Station No. 1 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and fireworks will be lit at dusk by the Eagle Rock bridge on Hwy. 86 at Table Rock Lake.

"There will probably be a few thousand people by boat and land who come for the show," he said. "Our community supports it really well, and I think it's one of the biggest and best fireworks shows in the area, and we really love to do it."

The barbecue before the show is $8 per plate and includes a sandwich, coleslaw, beans and a drink, and the smoked meats will be cooked by the firefighters in a smoker they built themselves.

"We served maybe 600-700 people last year, and we cook all the meat ourselves, "Pierson said. "We have a handmade smoker our volunteer firefighters made, so we'll smoke the meat here and serve it here."

Pierson said funding for the fireworks show is garnered entirely through donations, and no taxpayer dollars are spent for the celebration.

"We have a fundraiser breakfast earmarked for the fireworks, and we also do a mass mailer for people to send in their donations," he said. "We also get a lot of support from Cassville businesses that donate."

On July 4, the city of Seligman will also host a fireworks show, which will feature free food, games and a cake walk.

Brian Nichols, city clerk at Seligman, said the event, which begins at 7 p.m. with fireworks at about 9 p.m., has been a hit each of the seven years he has lived there, and the city is expecting upward of 200 people to set up behind city hall for the show.

"People will watch from Ruby's Event Center, and the chamber will have free food at the community center," he said. "Mozark Fellowship will also set up a slip-and-slide for the kids, and we'll have games and a cake walk."

Nichols said the city is proud to be able to hold such events, especially since many others have gone by the wayside.

"It means a great deal to us to host this," he said. "We don't have as much community support as we used to, but if nothing else, everyone can get together on the Fourth."

Nichols said poor support for past events like Summerfest and Fallfest have led the city to stop hosting them, but the 4th of July event is always well-attended.

The Wheaton Fire Department will host the second consecutive Freedom Jam on Friday at the Wheaton City Park.

Live entertainment and fireworks will mark the occasion. Performers will include a band from Monett, Down & Out, Point South from Cassville and the feature act, The Black Moods, from Tempe, Ariz. The Black Moods are a nationally-acclaimed rock band featuring two Wheaton natives.

County, red dirt and rock music will make up the mix. Live music will start at 6 p.m. A professional fireworks show will begin at dark.

Concessions will be available. People attending are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Organizers ask that attendees not to bring alcohol to the park.

For more information about the Shell Knob fireworks show, people may call Elsey at 417-858-3300; for more information about Fired Up and Smokin' in Eagle Rock, people may call the fire department at 417-271-3642; for more information about the Seligman celebration, people may call city hall at 417-662-3600; and for more information about Wheaton's Freedom Jam, people may call Stuart Lombard at 417-342-4181.

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