Celebrating independence: All-American Fourth of July brings out crowds for food, fun and fireworks

·3 min read

Jul. 5—Local residents and visitors filled Owensboro's Smother's Park for a prime view of the fireworks Monday evening during the city's annual All-American Fourth of July event downtown.

With a 5 p.m. start for festivities, those arriving before the fireworks began enjoyed dinner from a variety of food trucks and other vendors, all while listening to live music by ZoCephus & FunkNasty along the riverfront.

V.F.W. Post 696 was busy serving up Boston butts, whole chickens, smoked spareribs and grilled sweet corn.

Joey Benningfield said the V.F.W. always participates in the annual celebration.

"Oh yeah, they do the fireworks right out front," he said. "We have to keep the tradition alive of our freedom."

Benningfield said the tradition of celebrating Independence Day — July 4, 1776 — was established by the Founding Fathers and needs to be continued for future generations.

"They fought for it, and we fight for it," he said. "Many men and women fight for our freedom; we need to celebrate Fourth of July for that reason also."

Blake Renfrow came dressed in his patriotic best, with American flag sunglasses, shirt and pants, along with his family.

"It is all about America and the soldiers, and that is why we always have to celebrate every day," he said.

The All-American Fourth of July also included a performance by The Downtown Band, a 10-piece Nashville-based band with full brass section.

A 15-minute grand fireworks show lit up the night sky at 9:15 p.m. The riverfront was one of four locations fireworks were set off simultaneously across the city. Additional locations included Centre Court/Shifley Park, the Owensboro Sportscenter/ Moreland Park and Owensboro Warehouse Leasing. Spectators were able to tune in to 92.5 WBKR to listen to the soundtrack the fireworks show was choreographed to.

The decision to have fireworks displays at four separate locations throughout Owensboro was first made in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made to continue with the hybrid-style event due to its success.

Tim Ross, public events director for the City of Owensboro, said previously that last year's celebrations attracted a good crowd to watch the fireworks along the riverfront and the other three locations throughout the city.

Marcus Hayden decided to set up shop for the event alongside his family, offering up a variety of savory and sweet treats ranging from classic hamburgers to deep fried Oreos and funnel cakes.

"I am a military veteran, and Fourth of July kind of hits home with me, just thinking about my brothers and sisters at home and also overseas," Hayden said. "I also wanted to come out and spend some time with the community and put some food in their belly and just enjoy the Fourth of July."

Marty Moorman, who was working alongside Hayden on Monday, said it is nice to see the community come together as one.

"The Fourth is all about the people and celebration, Independence Day," Moorman said. "That is what we are here for, to celebrate and watch some fireworks, eat some good food and let the kids run around and have some fun."