JASPER — On Saturday, Hamilton County hosted its annual Fourth of July celebration for all to enjoy.
There were 20 vendors scheduled to set up their posts for the festivities, however due to the change in weather, some had to cancel their plans to attend this year’s celebration. Even with the weather taking a turn for some rain and thunder, 15 vendors were still in attendance. Life South Blood mobile, food vendors, sales vendors, bounce houses and slides, a dunk booth and live music were all a major part in making the festivities a fun evening in Hamilton County, despite the weather not being in their favor.
There were several food vendors to include Himalayan Ice, Hamilton School Nutrition Association, Southern Cravin’s from White Springs, T&T BBQ from Jasper, and Front Porch Café, which is also owned and operated through the owners of Crossroads Market and Grill, locals to Hamilton County, Kevin and Lisa Hotchkiss. People cstood in line in the rain waiting to order their favorite foods from the vendors, people taking special interest in the pizza from Front Porch Café, the hot dogs from the Hamilton Schools Nutrition Association, the shaved ice from the Himalayan Ice truck, fried pickles from the T&T BBQ food vendor, and special hand-battered fried chicken wings from Southern Cravin’s.
There was also a Scentsy booth set up by Lane Gerth and Roxanne Harmon that got several people’s attention throughout the festival; displaying many scented items, ranging from wax bars, to wax warmers and scented Scentsy Buddy stuffed animals. There was something for everyone to enjoy, including the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation baseball teams fundraising under the pavilion with food or drinks there to help raise money for their 10u & 12u teams.
The Hamilton County baseball team also had a dunk booth set up for patrons to attempt to dunk Pablo Garcia in a tank full of water. People hurled baseballs at the target in order to dunk the generous volunteer into the tank full of cold water, in an already rainy day. All in good sportsmanship, when a little girl attempted to dunk him and missed the target on the fifth and final ball, one of the baseball team players quickly slapped the target with Garcia unknowingly going plunging into the cold water, making for smiles and laughter for all around, including the dunk tank volunteer himself.
“It’s all about the community, and seeing everyone having a good time and good fun, makes for a great event all around,” said Parks and Recreation Director Chuck Burnett.
Many conversations could be heard throughout the night, ranging from the weather, to the music and food, to even the festival in itself. Many stated how convenient the date of Hamilton County’s 4th of July Celebration is. They mainly expressed how great it is that they are able to enjoy not just one event in Jasper, but that the schedule always coincides with the areas surrounding the county, with Jennings hosting a celebration the day prior, they are still able to come to the Rec Park in Jasper and enjoy the festival.
As the night goes on, the rain continued to fall, and many were running, walking and sitting through the weather with umbrellas and at times, even towels, to cover themselves while enjoying the festivities, heading for cover underneath some of the pavilions as a shelter from the rain.
The music continued throughout the festival, with sound equipment by Starlight Sound and Recording by Donald Johns, out of Lake City. The performers, Amber Jones Band, and The Rebellions, stood on a mobile stage as provided by Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center, and entertained the crowd in attendance with music ranging from gospel songs like “10,000 Reasons” were performed by the Amber Jones Band, to songs like “One Tin Soldier” performed by The Rebellions that night.
Evening fell, and the rain continued, but as 9:30 p.m. came about and the plans for the annual Class A Fireworks Show were about to be canceled due to the weather, it slacked off bit by bit until it was a light drizzle. That drizzle was just light enough to where the show could still go on. Burnett came through the park announcing that fireworks would soon be starting and the chatter and applause started in the crowd. Minutes later the first mortar was heard and everyone rushed out to the street at the entrance to the Rec Park, where there were hundreds of vehicles parked down the road and even in the open field across the road where those unwilling to weather the storm watched the show from their parked vehicles. Everyone watched the sky light up as the fireworks went on, some with umbrellas, and towels over their heads and some without anything at all to shield them from the incoming rain.
The crowd could be heard expressing their satisfaction of the show, adults and children alike. Many could be heard talking to one another saying things such as, “it was worth waiting out the storm,” and “we survived the storm to enjoy the beauty.”
This night was made possible and continues to be a success due to the great help of the sponsors that make it possible, such as Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, Nutrien – White Springs, Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center (which provided the mobile stage for the entertainment), Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office (security and traffic detail), Preferred Rental - Jasper, as well as the great entertainment provided by Amber Jones Band, and The Rebellion. The Hamilton County Parks & Rec expressed its gratitude and appreciation for all who attended; including vendors, sponsors, entertainment and the communities in attendance for helping make a rainy day end with a beautiful bang.