IF YOU GO
What: Crossroads Freedom Fest.
When: 3 p.m. CDT Saturday.
Where: City Park, Rainsville, Ala.
Fourth of July celebrations get an early start in the region this year, with Rainsville, Ala., primed for its Crossroads Freedom Fest on Saturday.
The celebration falls earlier than those in neighboring Alabama communities, and that is by design, said Jerry Clifton, director of the 5K/10K race that starts the day in Rainsville.
"The city of Fort Payne has a big fireworks display, and Henagar has a potato festival with fireworks," he said. "We wanted to have it so those folks could come to ours and our folks could go to theirs."
This year it was scheduled earlier, Clifton said, then the decision was made to compress events into one day instead of the usual two.
"The pastor of our church decided he literally wanted to kill everyone and do it all in one day," Clifton joked. " ... I think doing everything on one day is a good idea, even though (logistically) it's extremely crazy."
Rainsville First Baptist began the festival about 13 years ago to fund its mission work, Clifton said. It eventually grew so big that the city requested that it be moved to Rainsville City Park behind City Hall. With the relocation, the city and Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative stepped in to enhance the fireworks display.
A group of about 100 volunteers from the church will coordinate various activities during the day, which include a car show as well as inflatables for the kids. Clifton said church members' homemade concessions will include hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue, ice cream and lemonade. The city pool will be open for free swimming.
Among other duties, Clifton is in charge of the fourth annual Freedom Fest Run, which starts at 8 a.m. from Broadway Baptist Church, 99 McCurdy Ave. South. An iPad, flat-screen television and gas grill are among its prizes. Clifton said he expects about 400 racers to take part.
A classic car show follows at 3 p.m., with an estimated 150 cars on display at the Tom Bevill Enrichment Center, 115 Main St. West, adjacent to City Park. Cars will be on view through 7:30 p.m.
Entertainment starts at 4 p.m. (all times are Central). The headliner is Guy Penrod, a solo country/gospel artist best known for his previous work with the Gaither Vocal Band. Others scheduled to perform are Ginny Owens, 33Miles, Victoria Griffith and the local band Sycamore.
Fireworks will follow Penrod's show.
Clifton said that after his busy week of making sure everything is ready, he will welcome a rest.
"I can't wait for Saturday night and the last firecracker to pop," he said.
Lisa Denton is deputy features editor and content editor of Current. She previously was a lifestyle, entertainment and region reporter/pod leader for The Chattanooga Times, which she joined in 1983. Lisa is from Sale Creek and holds an associate’s degree in journalism from Chattanooga State Community College. Contact Lisa at 423-757-6281 or firstname.lastname@example.org.