News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
A fantastic Fourth of July
EVENTS LIST: Here’s the complete list of holiday events (including fireworks displays) happening throughout the region.
BY LIANA BAYNE
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
DIG the red, white and blue out of your closet
and get ready to celebrate the nation’s independence at a host of area events. You might have trouble choosing just one.
Spotsylvania is kicking off the party early with its Stars and Stripes Spectacular on Saturday, June 30.
The eighth annual Spectacular will start at 3 p.m. and last until fireworks at dark. Public information officer Kathy Smith said the county is expecting about 30,000 people to attend the free family-oriented festival, featuring three stages of music, children’s activities, Colonial re-enactors, “Star Wars” characters and more.
Music lovers will enjoy bands on three stages, and the Mid-Atlantic Wind Symphony will play patriotic tunes over a loudspeaker system during the fireworks.
The Spectacular will have food vendors and an on-site ATM. People can also bring coolers with food and drinks, but alcohol is not permitted. Pets also are not allowed.
The large area for the Spectacular stretches along Brock Road between its intersection with Courthouse Road Bypass and Courthouse Road. Event and road closure maps are available online at spotsylvaniasheriff.org.
There will be very limited on-site parking, and Robert E. Lee Elementary School will have permit-only parking. Spotsylvania is sponsoring a free shuttle from Courtland High School that will run from 2:45 until 8:30 p.m. and will begin again after the fireworks finale.
“It’s a great hometown kind of party,” Smith said.
The 40th annual Fredericksburg Heritage Festival will have something for everyone—all 15,000 people who are expected to attend.
Festival coordinator Roberta Gold said there isn’t much new this year, since the already-large festival will be packed to the brim with activities.
The day kicks off with a five-mile run at 7:45 a.m., followed by the more laid-back Heritage Day parade at 9:30 a.m. The parade is for walkers and bike riders, and Gold said there will be a contest for children with creatively decorated wheels.
Then, check out the Festival of the Streets from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. This giant festival features a craft show with more than 175 vendors, a dunk tank, a classic-car show, live music and children’s activities such as face painting and a moon bounce.
Gold said not much is being done to commemorate the festival’s 40th anniversary, but the organizer of the car show is going to try to feature cars from 1972, the event’s first year.
There will also be the annual raft race on the Rappahannock River at 11:30 a.m., from Falmouth Waterfront Park to the City Dock.
People can take a free shuttle over to Ferry Farm for the patriotic celebrations at George Washington’s childhood home.
Pratt Park will open at 6 p.m. for fireworks spectators, and a concert by the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic starts at 8 p.m. Also new this year: The city is opening Old Mill Park on the Fredericksburg side of the river so that more people can watch the fireworks. Gold said she hoped people would be attentive to their children in Old Mill Park, which is very close to the riverbank.
“The whole day is just really fun,” Gold said.
Get an early show by the UMW Philharmonic on Tuesday, July 3, at 7 p.m. Enjoy a free concert of patriotic music in historic Market Square, as part of the American Music Concert Series hosted by the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center.
Info: 540/371-4811; famcc.org.
Celebrate America at George Washington’s boyhood home. This year’s theme is “Symbols Americans Hold Dear,” and the event will feature activities related to the American flag, the Statue of Liberty and other patriotic symbols.
Paula Raudenbush, director of marketing and communications, said there will be music, a scavenger hunt, displays of Colonial-era spinning and blacksmithing by historical interpreters, and live alpacas.
Ferry Farm will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., with only a $1 admission fee.
Raudenbush said she expected between 2,000 and 3,000 people to attend.
Visitors can park off-site at the Eagles Lodge on Cool Spring Road and use the free trolleys. There will also be a free shuttle from the parking area for the Heritage Festival to Ferry Farm.
If there’s nothing more American in your mind than vintage cars and motorcycles, get over to Culpeper for the 13th annual 4th of July Car & Bike Show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Missy Vesuna of Culpeper Renaissance Inc. expects more than 200 people to bring their cars and bikes for the celebration.
“Each year, it has grown,” she said.
The town of Culpeper is also having other Independence Day events from 8 a.m. until fireworks at dark, including a morning 5K race, a dog walk, youth baseball and soccer tournaments, a reading of the Declaration of Independence with patriotic music at noon, a parade at 4 p.m., children’s activities, music and a community picnic in Yowell Meadow Park. The fireworks begin about 9:15 p.m.
DAHLGREN IN KING GEORGE
If you’re in King George County, head over to the Navy base at Dahlgren for live music, fireworks and much more.
Dahlgren’s July 4th celebration begins at 4 p.m. Its main feature is a concert by Gunnar and Matthew Nelson, who will perform music by their father, Ricky Nelson.
According to public affairs specialist Jeron Hayes, there will be some new musical stars at Dahlgren as well. This is the first year that Operation Rising Star, a singing competition for members of the military, will be held on July 4. That will take place at 6 p.m.
The event will also have food vendors, children’s games, a zip line for kids and a classic-car show.
All visitors over the age of 16 will need to show a photo ID to enter the base, and no alcohol, guns, fireworks, coolers, canopies or tents will be allowed. Parking will be first-come, first-served. Hayes said she expects between 4,000 and 5,000 people to attend the festivities.
For a laid-back Fourth of July, make your way to Colonial Beach to experience old-time relaxation.
Besides fireworks after dark, it’s just good, old-fashioned fun all day.
Mattie Lillard, office manager for the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce, said the town doesn’t sponsor many special events, but people love coming to hang out on the beach, listen to live bands in the various restaurants and shop in town.
The town is a golf-cart community, so visitors don’t even have to worry about driving their cars around.
Lillard said normally several thousand people come out for the fireworks. Some of them even sail down from as far away as Maryland.
“It’s a fun way to see the beach, [and] it’s an economical choice for travel,” Lillard said.
WESTMORELAND STATE PARK
If your family is interested in Civil War history, Westmoreland State Park has something great for you.
The Civil War 150 History Mobile will make a stop at the park July 3–5. The 53-foot trailer, filled with historical artifacts and interactive exhibits, is part of the sesquicentennial celebration and is travelling around the state as part of a four-year tour.
The exhibit includes letters between soldiers and their families, conversations from slaves hoping to flee to freedom, a film about Virginia’s decision to secede, a living-history campsite, live Civil War-era music, storytelling and guest speakers.
The mobile will be open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on July 3 and July 4, and from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on July 5. Admission is free, but there is a $4 daily parking charge to enter the park.
Info: 804/493-8821; virginiastateparks.gov
Liana Bayne: 540/374-5444