Friday, July 01, 2011

That grand and glorious Fourth

A guy can never be too rich or take too many pictures of Lucas County’s Richardson Romanesque courthouse, dating from 1896,  that will preside over Chariton’s annual three-day Fourth of July celebration on the square this weekend.

My folks carried me to my first Chariton Fourth, but I’ll walk the three blocks to the square this time under my own power. Well, hobble maybe. In an extraordinarily graceful move, I’ve twisted an ankle.

We almost always were putting up hay on Independence Day when I was a kid, but stopped early to clean up and drive into town for a spin on the midway before heading down to what now is Yocom Park for the fireworks.

The fireworks have moved several times as years passed. Yocom Park was ideal, but too close to houses whose owners came to feel threatened. Only two blocks from the square, you could walk to and from. The lower area of the park once had been a small lake, serving the former city power plant, and had been landscaped once drained into an amphitheater.

From there, fireworks moved to Red Haw State Park, then back up town for at least one 4th --- too close again to vulnerable roofs. Now they’ve settled down at Northwest Park --- 10 p.m. Sunday; rain date, 10 p.m. Monday.

I always enjoyed the Ferris wheel. Until I got big enough to ride alone, my dad had to accompany me. Carnival rides made him sick, so quite often he would throw up shortly after (but never during) the ride --- and such things amuse small children.

Gary and Betty Pepping, long-time owners of Ben Franklin (33 years), will be the grand marshals of this year’s parade, scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday. And there’s cause for extra celebration involved in that.

The Peppings have been trying to retire, in part for health reasons and in part because they just want to retire, for some time --- but selling a business of that scale in a county seat town in Iowa is a challenge.

The Mark Felderman family stepped up to the plate, however. Thursday was the Peppings last day as owners at Ben Franklin; the Feldermans take over today. Now it’s up to the rest of us to support them.

In any case, here’s the schedule for the three-day celebration. I poked around and couldn’t find in anywhere else online, so decided to put it here.


9 a.m., Johnson Machine Works Flying Anvil 5K Run/Walk (the anvil will be fired at Johnson Machine Works, where the event begins).

10 a.m., Small engine tractor pull weigh-in; carnival opens.

11 a.m., Small engine tractor pull.

Noon, Beer tent opens.

1 p.m., Young Men’s Basic Training graduation on Memorial Stage.

2 p.m., Wine/beer tasting in the beer tent ($10).

2:30 p.m., Song-writer and entertainer Ben Wantland (son of Larry and Lonna) on the Memorial Stage.

4 p.m. Bingo tent opens.

4:30 p.m. Albert Butler of Lacona performs in the band stand.

8 p.m.-midnight, Local band “More Than This” performs on Memorial Stage.


10 a.m., Interchurch Council ecumenical service on Memorial Stage (Johnson Auditorium in case of rain).

Noon, Community Band performs on Memorial Stage

2 p.m. Minute to Win it, kids bean-bag toss, water balloon toss (Memorial Stage area).

3:30 p.m. Local bands Reborn and Sun Dogs perform on Memorial Stage.

4 p.m. Bingo tent opens.

5:30 p.m. Bathtub races.

8 p.m. to midnight, Country-rock band Lockren, of Coggin, performs on Memorial Stage.

10 p.m. Fireworks at Northwest Park.


10 a.m. Kiddie races at Yocom Park; carnival opens.

Noon, Monster arm wrestling weigh-in.

1 p.m. Parade; Beer tent opens.

2 p.m. Bingo tent opens.

2:30 p.m. Contests at Memorial Stage

3:30 p.m. Presentations, Chariton Volunteer Fire Department water fights.

4 p.m. In Motion Dance Studio, Memorial Stage

5 p.m. High school drill team, Memorial Stage

8 p.m. to midnight, Local band Halfway Back performs on Memorial Stage.


Meanwhile down the road at Corydon, the Fourth will be celebrated, too  --- on the Fourth.

The annual “Let Freedom Ring” program will begin at 3 p.m. at Prairie Trails Museum. The cool part of this involves ringing the dozens of bells from country schools and closed churches that form a welcoming semicircle in front of the museum. Featured during the program will be Hannah Ackerman of Cedar Falls, performing “Mrs. Alleta Sullivan, No Other Mother Gave More,” commemorating Waterloo’s five Sullivan Brothers who died together on Nov. 13, 1942, when the USS Juneau sank in the South Pacific.

The Corydon parade starts at 5 p.m. on the square, followed by a ham barbecue and ice cream social at 5:30 p.m.

The Ridgerunners, based in Cedar Rapids and featuring hometown boys Gary (banjo and vocals) and Bill (fiddle and harmonica) Hart, will perform on the stage at 6 p.m.

The celebration will conclude with fireworks over Corydon Lake Park at dusk.


The Iowa Legislature finished up work on the budget hours ahead of the deadline on Thursday, but Minnesota’s Legislature didn’t. So democracy survived, sort of, once again in the Hawkeye State; Minnesota’s government is closing down. Whoops.

Steam heat continues with a predicted high of 96 and “heat index” of 110. The effect, when you step outside if you’ve never experienced an Iowa summer, is a lot like walking face-first into a hot, wet blanket. Plus your glasses steam over.

But cooler and mostly dry conditions are predicted for the weekend, so that looks promising.

1 comment:

Nick Cattell said...

And if you need something else to do on the 3rd of July the Chariton Disciples of Christ Christian Church is hosting a fishing derby for the kids from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. at the Cattell's pond in the back of Ilion Acres. Then a free BBQ meal at 6:00 p.m. at the Frontier Trading Post and Soda Pop Saloon. Musical entertainment by the Diamond Trio after meal and then back to Cattell's pond for smores and fireworks viewing. Perfect view to Northwest park and you can sit right in your car.