NEW KNOXVILLE — America’s declaration to break away from being ruled by Great Britain will be celebrated early this year at the New Knoxville Independence Day Celebration from June 30 to July 1.
Contests, midway games, local sales, live music, a free outdoor movie, a nighttime 5K run-walk and, of course, fireworks are among the attractions to help ring in July Fourth three days in advance. Hours are 5 to 11:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. All events happen in New Knoxville Community Park, just south of the village along state Route 29.
Parking is available on the east side of Route 29.
“We have thousands of people come to the celebration,” said Shelia Farley, park association secretary and event spokeswoman. New Knoxville has a population of 879 but according to Shelby Allen, treasurer of the park association, which began the celebration in 1991, crowds of 1,500 to 2,000 people come from surrounding villages and counties.
Advance registration is available for softball and corn hole tournaments. Farley said a dozen teams are signed up for the softball games. Also for the picking and choosing are contests in pie baking, photo, hot shot and free throw basketball, plus vendors and the 5K run-walk. Same-day registration is permitted for some events.
Among other events for visitors are rival Little League baseball games between teams from New Bremen and New Knoxville. The third- and fourth-graders play at 3 p.m., Saturday; and fifth- and sixth-graders follow at 5 p.m.
Live music is always a crowd pleaser and kicks off Friday with Shelby County Line playing from 8 p.m. to midnight. Saturday performers include The Way International Choir at 11:20 a.m., The Little People’s Band from 1 to 4:30 p.m., and No Regrets playing from 8 p.m. to midnight.
“The music is great this year,” said Farley. “Shelby County Line is a local country band, and The Little People are really good even though they’re young,” she said.
Allen added that the youngsters of The Little People, from Wapakoneta, “are popular with kids. Kids like to see kids in the band, so they attract a big crowd.”
No Regrets, from Columbus, is a cover band for 1980s music, which its promoter, WLVQ radio (Q-FM96) calls a “premier rock ’n’ roll experience … (that) will bring you back to a time when Spandex, make-up and big hair was more than just a fashion statement — it was a party.” The band is on a busy summer and fall schedule before a winter gig in Key West, Florida, at Sloppy Joe’s, famous for being a favorite bar of Ernest Hemingway.
In New Knoxville, food and beverages will be available at the food and beer tents, and the Kona Ice Truck is making a return appearance serving shaved ice cones. A celebration highlight hits at 4 p.m., Saturday, when barbecue chicken dinners are served by the park association. Diners should make plans early because “we always sell out” of the $7 dinners, said Farley. The park association sold 500 dinners last year, Allen said.
For calmer visitors to the festivities, Friends of the Library will have a book sale both days, and the Boy Scouts and American Legion will present solemn Independence Day ceremonies.
The finale of the festival is the fireworks display, Saturday, at 10 p.m.
“It’s definitely our biggest event of the weekend.,” said Michael Chalk, park association board president. “The whole park is just packed … if it doesn’t rain.” Sunday is the back-up date for the fireworks.
For detailed information and registration guidelines, log onto www.nkjuly.com.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.