July 4th festivities kick off Friday


Published: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.

Barbecues, concerts and fireworks shows will take place throughout the weekend in Gainesville and surrounding areas to celebrate Independence Day.

One of the earliest events is the Vetfest Music Festival 2010, which begins at 2 p.m. Friday at the Dixieland Music Park in Waldo.

Jim Mitzel, the founder and a sponsor of Vetfest, said the two-day festival has had to change locations because it outgrew previous venues.

Although more people have been attending the event, Mitzel said it has been difficult putting it together.

"The economy has really hurt us to get sponsors," Mitzel said. "We've had to scrounge."

Still, many companies have donated items, and none of the entertainers are charging to perform. There will be about 40 vendors.

The festival will raise money through memorial merchandise and will benefit several U.S. military veteran projects, such as the Major Alan Rogers Memorial Scholarship Fund at Santa Fe College and for the Veterans' Memorial and Monument, Mitzel said.

On Saturday, Micanopy hosts its Independence Day Parade and Celebration that starts at 8 a.m. with a Lifesouth blood drive near the fire station. The event continues with a parade at 11 a.m. that makes its way from Southeast Tuscawilla Road to Cholokka Boulevard.

A Native American float will be in the parade to celebrate the heritage of the town, said Ginny Mance, commissioner and vice mayor of Micanopy.

At the same time, a fish fry vendor will be selling fish, hush puppies, cole slaw and other items. The proceeds will benefit the museum and the Thrasher Warehouse, both of which were built in the 1800s.

Micanopy's Independence Day event has been held for at least 25 years, and it has not had to scale back for its approximate 2,000 attendees, she said.

A fireworks show, which begins at 9 p.m. at the ballpark, closes the event.

"For being the size town that we are," she said, "we put on a pretty big fireworks show."

At noon Sunday, Alachua will hold its Annual July 4th Celebration at the Hal Brady Recreation Complex, 14300 N.W. 146th Terrace.

Most of the event will remain the same as previous years, but there will be new vendors and activities for children, said Adam Boukari, chairman of the event.

Last year, about 25,000 people attended the event, and organizers are hoping for similar numbers this year.

Alachua city commissioners earmark $40,000 in the city budget for the event, but about $15,000 is raised through in-kind contributions and $17,000 through cash contributions, he said.

"Our commission has been really supportive in celebrating this day," he said. "It's a way for us to honor the men and women of our Armed Forces."

FOURTH OF JULY

VETFEST MUSIC FESTIVAL 2010: Two-day event features Cross-Fire Warriors, John McMillan, Phil Cay, Glen Snow & The Snowmen, "Elvis" and others, 2-11:30 p.m. today; No Warning, Blue Smoke, Big Engine, Gonzo Gator Band, Progressive Madness, Willie & The Po' Boys and others, 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Saturday, also food and vendors both days with proceeds benefiting the Hampton Veteran's Memorial Fund, Dixieland Music Park, 17500 N.E. U.S. Highway 301, Waldo. Free admission, camping $10-$20. (215-9217)

LET'S GO DOWNTOWN "FREE FRIDAYS" PLAZA SERIES: "All American Song Fest" features songs about America past and present by the Americana All Stars, which includes Mike Boulware, Dino Campbell, Don David, Kenny Shore, Larry Thompson and special guests, 8-10 p.m. Friday, Bo Diddley Community Plaza, 111 E. University Ave., Gainesville. Free. (www.gvlculturalaffairs.org)

"FANFARES & FIREWORKS": Independence Day celebration returns with music by the Gainesville Community Band, 6th Street Rhythm and Blues Review, Hartley Leacock and the Collective Format Band, 7 p.m. Saturday, fireworks at 9:40 p.m., Flavet Field Bandshell, UF campus. Free.

PATRIOTIC DAY: The Patriotic and Historical Alliance of North Central Florida present conversations with veterans, historical displays, vintage posters and memorabilia, 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Books-a-Million, 2601 N.W. 13th St., Gainesville.

MICANOPY INDEPENDENCE DAY PARADE AND CELEBRATION: Parade starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, from Southeast Tuscawilla Road to Cholokka Boulevard to ballpark; fish fry begins at 11 a.m. with fish, hush puppies, coleslaw and baked beans for $10; Lifesouth blood drive 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Fire Station; games, music and food at ballpark 5-8:30 p.m., fireworks at dusk. Free admission. (466-3121)

ALACHUA FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION: Events include fireworks, crafts, foods, live music, dancing, bingo contests, petting zoo, bounce houses, children's water slides, new spray park and skateboard park on site, noon-10 p.m. Sunday, fireworks at 9:30 p.m., Hal Brady Recreation Complex, 14300 N.W. 146 Terrace, Alachua. Free. (www.cityofalachua.com)

CLAMERICA: Cedar Key Fourth of July celebration features variety of clam dishes and other food, live music, clam-themed contests with prizes, fireworks at dusk, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, City Park and Beach, Second Street and A Street, Cedar Key. Free. (543-6346, 543-5057 or www.cedarkey.org)

WINGS OF DREAMS: The Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum in Keystone Heights will commemorate Independence Day with a breakfast, which will be followed by a short presentation and Q&A session by Col. Phil Newman, World War II B-17 pilot, Saturday, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Keystone Heights Airport. The fly-in breakfast buffet is $7 per person, $4 per child (9 and under) and free for World War II veterans. (256-8037)

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