When I was growing up, the birth of our nation meant one thing—and it wasn’t liberty and justice for all. Nope, it was hand-cranked chocolate-chip ice cream at my Aunt June’s annual Fourth of July party. Honestly, I still don’t think that sentiment is wrong. Much of what makes our nation worth celebrating is the opportunity to gather with family and friends, eat picnic foods and amuse ourselves with explosives. And if one is compelled to wear an American-flag T-shirts well, it’s great that there’s a day when that can happen, too.
The point here is that July 4 allows its celebrants to tap into a simpler time. Down-home fun, warm weather, baseball games, grilling out: What’s not to love? And this year’s bevy of local celebrations supplies plenty of opportunity to tap into that small-town U.S.A. spirit. From day hikes and car shows to powwows and fireworks, here’s what’s happening (all events take place on Friday, July 4, unless otherwise noted):
• Morganton’s Red, White and Bluegrass Festival wraps up on July 4 (it opened Tuesday, July 1), but there’s still plenty of action. Bands including Carolina Sonshine, JD Crowe and The New South and Bradley Walker take the stage from 2:30 to 10 p.m., followed by a fireworks show. Old-Time July Fourth activities like watermelon-eating and frog-jumping contests start at 3:30 p.m.
Free admission. Info: www.redwhiteandbluegrassfestival.com.
• The streets of downtown Brevard are transformed into a Fine Arts and Crafts Showcase as part of the town’s Fourth of July Celebration (which includes the classic-car show, below). The day’s events include the 5K Firecracker Run, a bike parade at 1 p.m., a reading of the Declaration of Independence at 3 p.m. and fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
The race starts at 8 a.m., and the festival begins at 9 a.m. Info: 884-3728 or www.brevardnc.org.
• Get your motor running: The Transylvania Region AACA’s Heart of Brevard Auto Show roars down Brevard’s West Main Street. Cars represented are pre-1981 models.
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. Info: 884-3670.
• Go west, revelers. The Cherokee Indian Fair Grounds sets off Fourth of July fireworks as part of the July Powwow (which runs Friday, July 4, to Sunday, July 6). The event is billed as “a three-day explosion of authentic Indian dancing, drumming, and tribal regalia,” with dance competitions throughout the weekend.
Gates open Friday at 5 p.m., and at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Fireworks are at 10:30 p.m. on Friday. Entry is $10 per day. Info: (800) 438-1601 or www.cherokee-nc.com.
• Want to earn that hot-dog-and-potato-salad feast? The Swannanoa Valley Museum holds its annual Fireworks Hike. Meet at the parking lot of the Black Mountain Savings Bank (200 E. State St.) and carpool to the trail. A 45-minute hike culminates with a weenie roast and watermelon, followed by a bird’s-eye view of fireworks.
7 p.m. $15 museum members, $25 non-members, $5 children under 12 (price includes dinner). Info and reservations (required): 669-9566 or www.swannanoavalleymuseum.org.
• The July installment of Hendersonville’s 10th annual Music On Main Street concert series just so happens to fall on Independence Day. Rising to the occasion, the evening’s offering is South Carolina-based party band Special Edition, known for covering everything from Wilson Pickett to Jimmy Buffett. Don’t bring pets or alcohol; do bring a lawn chair.
7 to 9 p.m., held at the Visitors Information Center (201 South Main St., Hendersonville). Free. Info: 693-9708 or www.historichendersonville.org.
• The Asheville Tourists play a home game against the Rome Braves at McCormick Field, followed by a fireworks extravaganza.
Friday and Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Tickets run $7 to $46.35 depending on the section. Info: 258-0428 or asheville.tourists.milb.com.
• Buncombe County Parks and Recreation Services hosts an annual Fourth of July fireworks display at Lake Julian Park.
9:45 p.m. Info: 684-0376.
• Want to go all out for the holiday? The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa offers a weekend-long Motown Soul BBQ celebration featuring soul outfit The GT All-Stars. The weekend also includes Revolutionary War reenactments, guided history tours, scavenger hunts and even a private “Asheville Tea Party” complete with food and live entertainment.
Friday, July 4 to Sunday, July 6. Packages begin at $899. Info: 252-2711 or www.groveparkinn.com.
Many towns in Western North Carolina host their own unique celebrations. Here’s a rundown:
• Asheville‘s downtown celebration kicks off at 1 p.m. at Pack Square with a day’s worth of “patriotic festivities.” A fireworks display wraps up the event at 10 p.m. Info: 259-5689.
• Barnardsville holds its old-fashioned July 4 celebration at the Big Ivy Community Center (540 Dillingham Road) from 5 to 7 p.m., with fireworks at dark. Info: 626-3438.
• Black Mountain and Montreat gear up for the day with the Montreat Parade kicking off at 10:30 a.m. (it’s free and open to public; call 669-2911 for info) followed by the Fourth of July Celebration in downtown Black Mountain. A street dance and festival food are on order from 7 to 9 p.m., along with an evening fireworks display at 9:45 p.m. Info: 669-2052.
• Columbus is home to the Fabulous Fourth celebration with entertainment, food, kiddie rides and fireworks. 10 a.m. to midnight. Info: 894-8236.
• Franklin holds a celebration underscored by a “Patriotic Parade” through downtown (visitors in red, white and blue attire, and “patriotic pets” are welcome to join the march). The event begins at 10:30 a.m. Info: 524-0476.
• Leicester‘s festivities run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Leicester Community Center (2979 New Leicester Highway). Traditional music and food; bring lawn chairs. $5 adults, $3 children under 12, children 3 and under are free. Info: 774-3000.
• Sylva is home to the annual Jackson County Independence Day Celebration. Entertainment begins at 6 p.m., with fireworks at dark. Info: 293-3053.
• Waynesville‘s The Stars and Stripes Celebration runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. along Main Street. (Note: This year is Haywood County’s bicentennial.) Info: 456-3517.
• Weaverville‘s Independence Day celebration takes place at Lake Louise with food and music followed by a fireworks show at dark. Info: 645-7116.