Fourth festivities attract over 5,000
An estimated 5,000 people lined the grounds at Monett's South Park on Saturday afternoon in anticipation of the annual Freedom and Fireworks celebration that kicked off at 1 p.m.
"Things went very smoothly," said Sarah Hohensee, chairperson for the event. "There were no incidents reported."
Over 60 vendors were on hand to provide everything from funnel cakes and lemonade to inflatable games and pony rides for children.
On display were the patriotic truck and trailer combination from the Missouri National Guard and a number of crafts vendors offering wooden toys, glow-in-the-dark bracelets and more. Brandon Adams, of BTA Carvings, Sculptures and Log Signs in Marionville, gave a demonstration in chainsaw art, carving a bear from a cedar log section.
Winner of the pie eating contest in the adult division was Jason Haase, who not only managed to gulp down the tasty filling but the entire crust as well. He received a $20 Walmart gift card for his efforts.
A demonstration in martial arts was provided by students from the RWTB school in Cassville. The demonstration included roundhouse kicks and various defensive maneuvers that students, some as young as 4, are learning to master.
Corybel Country took the stage at 7:30 p.m., providing musical entertainment for the swelling crowds awaiting the fireworks finale. Her musical repertoire included all-time favorites as well as new material recently penned by herself and the band.
Corybel Country, who traveled to Monett from a show in St. Louis, has opened for such acts as REO Speedwagon, Pat Benetar and Ricochet. The band also performed at the Show-Me Music Festival this year.
J.D. Buckridge, former director of The Den youth center, spoke just prior to the pyrotechnic display to offer his account of the first harrowing 22 minutes of the May 22 tornado that devastated a major portion of the Joplin community.
Buckridge also spoke of the many people who responded to Joplin, offering aid, assistance and relief in the hours following the life-changing event. He expressed the city's appreciation to all who lent their efforts on behalf of that community.
Then, marking the 235th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the skies of Monett were spectacularly lit in commemoration of the birth of the nation. The 20-minute show was filled with color and sound in celebration, a fulfillment of a prophecy by John Adams, one of the five who helped craft the Declaration.
"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
- John Adams
in a letter to his wife, Abigail.