There’s always lots to do on holiday weekends, especially on Independence Day. Whether you want to check out a parade or two, listen to live music or kick back and watch some fireworks explode over the city, we’ve pulled together this Fourth of July festivities guide to help you choose what to do.
By Matt Stolle
Along with parades and fireworks, many towns are celebrating Independence Day with a wide variety of live music. Here are some of your options.
An Old Fashioned 4th of July in the Park Saturday July 2, 7 p.m. The Chatfield Brass Band and the Stewartville Band will be playing, and there’s catering by Old Tyme Cafe.
July 4th Concert & Fireworks Display, Monday July 4, 8:30 p.m. Silver Lake Park, 700 West Silver Lake Drive NE. Riverside Concerts presents Chuck Blattner directing the Rochester Concert Band performing a concert in tribute to the anniversary of our country’s independence at the Silver Lake Park soccer field. The concert is free to the public and will precede the fireworks display.
Freedom Fest July 4, starting at 1 p.m. Austin Bandshell Community Park stage. Performances include Rochester Caledonian Pipe Band, 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Austin Big Band, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.; The Irish Minstrels, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.; 2nd Edition, 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.; Bissen Brothers (and Sisters) Band, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Austin Symphony Orchestra, 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Giant fireworks display at dusk.
1899 Independence Day celebration at Mystery Cave State Park. Brass band players from noon until 4 p.m.
Concert in the Park – Sawtooth Brothers, July 4, 7 p.m. Red Wing Central Park.
By Tom Weber
Before the fireworks comes the parade, at least in several southeast Minnesota towns.
The Fourth of July parade, with marching bands, local veterans organizations, fire trucks and floats decorated in red, white, and blue, is a tradition that continues to entertain viewers of all ages.
Here’s a look at where you can see a Fourth of July parade this holiday weekend.
Austin’s Freedom Fest, with a name like that, simply has to include a Fourth of July parade. The parade starts at 11 a.m. Monday, just one of many events on a busy Fourth in Austin.
The Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration includes a parade at 2:30 p.m. Monday.
The Cannon Valley Fair is always at the same time as the Fourth of July. This year’s parade starts at 11:30 a.m. Monday at Cannon Falls High School and makes its way to the fairgrounds.
Harmony has two parades on the Fourth: the Grand Kiddie Parade, which starts at 2:45 p.m., and the Grand Parade, which starts at 3 p.m. The kiddie parade starts in front of Old Ways New Ideas, while the Grand Parade starts at the Harmony Community Center.
There’s a second kiddie parade in Rochester — it’s had one for at least 30 years. Kids are invited to decorate their bicycles, wagons and scooters for the parade from Christ United Methodist Church to Soldiers Field. The parade starts at 10 a.m. Monday, and parents are welcome to accompany their children along the route.
Summerfest coincides with the Fourth, so there’s a parade as part of the celebration. This parade, though, starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday, winding from the high school, down Main Street and past Florence Park, where the fireworks display will take place at dusk.
Wanamingo’s Grand Parade is at 2:30 p.m. on the Fourth.
Finally, if you can’t wait until the Fourth, Albert Lea is presenting its Fourth of July parade at 5 p.m. Sunday (July 3), starting at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds.
By Bryan Lund
It doesn’t get much more evocative of the American spirit than fireworks. Here are some displays going on in the area. All of the displays below begin at dusk, unless otherwise noted.
This community has a preamble on the evening of the 3rd, then a blow-out the night of the 4th.
“We have the best fireworks show in Southeastern Minnesota,” says Sandy Forstner, executive director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Their display, which attracts tens of thousands of people, is put on by Flashing Thunder, a professional crew out of Mitchell, Iowa.
“We put a lot of rockets in the air at once, they choreograph it pretty well, and always have a few surprises for the audience,” Forstner says.
The display in Blooming Prairie is more about a culmination of a day’s worth of family-friendly, community-focused celebrating. They begin at 9:45.
“I’m sure all the big cities have much larger fireworks than ours. We have a nice celebration leading up to our fireworks. That is what we have,” says Becky Noble, executive director of Blooming Prairie’s Chamber of Commerce.
The biggest little city in Southeastern Minnesota has a fireworks display put on by their volunteer fire department. North Park is the best place to see them, though you can catch a view all over town.
Lake City sets off their fireworks over Lake Pepin. People go out on their boats, but if you’re more of a land lover, the best seats are in the city’s Ohuta Park.
Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days funds the city’s display, and this year, they’re providing hot dogs, condiments, and paper products for a pre-explosions picnic. Bring a beverage and a dish to pass. Food starts at 6:30, then music on wheels plays from 6 to 10, with the fireworks show at dusk. The best place to catch them is down at Oronoco Park.
There are loads of places to take in Rochester’s display, but none will be as unforgettable as Silver Lake Park, where Salute to the 4th celebrations will culminate. They have a stage in the soccer field, where they will blast Laser 101.7’s broadcast of music and patriotic speeches by luminaries like Martin Luther King, Jr, curated to flow along with the fireworks, which begin at 10 p.m.
“Every year it’s quiet, it’s just like ‘ooh, ahhh’ and then it’s like, alright,” said Kurt Hobarger, a member of The Commission. “I think having that extra music will give it a little more excitement.”
After the show, Suite will take the stage to keep the party going.
According to Gwen Ravenhorst, administrator of Stewartville Chamber of Commerce, this year’s display may pack an extra punch.
“I know that we were given extra fireworks this year that are bigger than what we normally set off,” she says.
They are best observed from Florence Park, but, Ravenhorst says they get thousands of people congregating there each year, so plan to save your spot right after the parade.