For those who consider barbecue and fireworks essential to celebrating the Fourth of July, Columbia County is the place to be on the patriotic holiday.
The county, coupled with University Health Care System, is bringing its 18th annual Fourth of July celebration to Patriots Park on Columbia Road.
The free event starts at 4 p.m. with a variety of food and arts and crafts vendors. Children’s rides and games also will be going on throughout the day.
“I think the biggest draw to this event is the fact that it is a family tradition for Columbia County,” Community Events Specialist Virginia Atkins said.
A welcoming ceremony will begin at 6 p.m., followed by live music from The Stephen Lee Band and The Vellotones starting at 6:30 p.m.
The event, which usually draws about 10,000 people, will be capped off with a 15-minute firework display. The U.S. Army Signal Corps Band will perform during the show.
“The ending is just the best,” said Atkins, who encourages people to bring blankets. “This fireworks display is just gorgeous.”
Food options include barbecue sandwiches, funnel cakes, boiled peanuts, wings, cotton candy and other treats commonly served at a fair, Atkins said.
With temperatures expected to reach the mid-90s Wednesday, Atkins also said coolers will be allowed – though only with non-alcoholic beverages.
“We want everybody to stay cool during the event,” she said.
Earlier in the day at Liberty Park Community Center, the city of Grovetown is playing host to its 25th annual free barbecue.
From noon to about 3 p.m., participants can feast on free pulled pork barbecue from Neal’s Bar-B-Que, hash and rice, and refreshments. Hot dogs and chips will be available for children.
Takeout orders cost $5. Monetary donations will be accepted.
“We let the county do the fireworks and we do the barbecue,” said Grovetown City Clerk Vicky Capetillo.
Bluegrass music and karaoke will also be part of the day’s festivities.
Capetillo said last year the city served more than 3,000 people, including guests from Atlanta.
“We don’t have just Grovetown residents come,” she said. “We have residents come from all over the county.”
Two more patriotic events are scheduled outside the county.
Fort Gordon will hold its annual free Independence Day Celebration from 3-11 p.m. on July 3.
Live music includes concerts by The Swingin’ Medallions and the U.S. Army Signal Corps Band.
Carnival and water rides start at 3 p.m. The fireworks show will begin at dark.
Additionally, more than 40 food and craft vendors will be set up on the base.
On July 7, Thunder Over Thurmond kicks off at 1 p.m. at Dorn Sports Fishing and Boating Facility in McCormick County.
Bands will begin performing at 4:30 p.m.
The event also includes an airshow with monoplanes, biplanes and a Silver Wings jump team.
A fireworks show is planned from 9:45 until 10:30 p.m.
General admission costs $20, and VIP tickets cost $100, with a $5 fee for parking.