Thousands attend Evart Independence Day festivities

EVART — Independence Day celebrations went off with a bang for Osceola County this year, as Evart hosted a number of family-friendly events on July 3 and 4 that attracted both residents and visitors from miles around.

In addition to a Super Kicker Rodeo that took place on Friday afternoon, the evening provided musical entertainment from the 33rd Street Band while attendees took their places under and near the grandstand to wait for the fireworks show at dusk.

"We've got beautiful weather — you can't ask for better than this — and we have a great band," said Evart Downtown Development Authority Director Al Weinberg the evening of the event. "We're expecting a lot of fun and a great firework display."

Barryton residents LouAnn and Lee Stearns set up their chairs near the animal barns, which is the same spot they stake out each year. The pair said they love coming to Evart to celebrate.

"Evart has some of the best fireworks in the western Michigan and Midwest area," LouAnne said. "They really do so much for a little town."

The fireworks themselves cost the Evart Chamber of Commerce about $18,000, and the show is coordinated and set off by hand by employees of Wolverine Fireworks, a company based out of Kawkawlin. The business provides firework shows around the state.

"With the box finales, there are literally more than 6,000 shots in this show," said Rick Hays of Wolverine Fireworks. "We've got everything from the largest 6-inch shells, and we do a lot of box finales with the lot of special effects. They are as small as 1 inch, and the main body of the show we have a lot of 4 inch, 5 inch and 6 inch shells."

On Friday, Independence Day kicked off with a 5K Walk/Run. At 11 a.m. a parade down Main Street took place for families to enjoy. Hundreds lined the downtown area to see the businesses, organizations and community members walk and ride in floats and vehicles.

Beginning at noon, the annual Party in the Park provided summer fun, music and food.

A giant sprinkler, chicken lunch, dunk tank and bounce houses were available, along with two new attractions were offered this year. A mechanical surf board and pony rides were fun additions for the kids, and Evart Mayor Eric Schmidt said he hopes to continue bringing new things to the park each year.

“This gives families something to do, and I look at it as something for the kids,” Schmidt said. “It’s a big boost in our local economy.”

Several local organizations also were in attendance at the park with tables and booths, including the Evart Car Club, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Evart Lions Club.