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Arts & Entertainment Franklin postpones fireworks for first time ever

Rain doesn’t dampen annual Macon County firework celebration

For more than 20 years, the goal of the Macon County Chamber of Commerce has been to produce an incredible Fourth of July Celebration. The Chamber has been putting on the production since the early ’90s and each year works to bring new events to the celebration for the community.

"It's great that Macon County has a place to host an event like the 4th of July festivities," said Macon County Parks and Recreation Director Seth Adams. "Thousands of people come to the Macon County Veterans Memorial Recreation Park for the event. Some of those visitors are there for the first time. They may see something they would like to do again so they will come back to the park. The Fourth is a very busy day for everyone, but it is well worth the effort."

A few stalwart souls braved the elements to show their patriotism in the 4th of July parade.Inclement weather caused this year's Independence Day celebration to be moved from Thursday to Saturday, but the show was just as spectacular as always. "This was the first year since we have been doing the fireworks that we have had to reschedule to a different date." said Linda Harbuck, chamber executive director. "There are a lot of details that have to be covered when we change the date such as insurance. Our insurance is only good for 24 hours so if the fireworks are not shot within that time span, we have to ask the insurance company to transfer the policy to another date or completely buy a new policy."

Thousands of people come to the recreation park every year for the food, music, fun and fireworks.Last minute details and diligent work on behalf of the Chamber allowed the majority of the events to be moved to Saturday without much trouble. "This year we were able to get the policy moved to our new day without a penalty, however if we had not shot the fireworks before midnight on Saturday it would have cost us an extra $500 to extend the policy until midnight on Sunday," explained Harbuck. "Also, we have to make phone calls to all the vendors, entertainers, volunteers and others who are involved in the day’s activities at the park. We also have to clear everything with the Recreation Park’s schedule and our “shooters” as well as approval has to be given by the Pyrotechnics company that we use. Media has to be contacted to get the new schedule out to them, therefore we could not wait until the day before or the day of to make our decision on whether to postpone or not."

The most patriotic pet contest is always a popular event.Those who attended didn't mind the date change and enjoyed the festive events of the day.

"I thought the fireworks were great," said Macon County resident Stephanie Kinsland. "So glad the rain took a break and held off until they were finished."

Other residents who watched this year's events took to facebook to share their thoughts about the event. Barbara Watson posted, "They were great," and Linda Lane commented to say they were, "Wonderful, as always."

Although the Fourth of July celebration just lasts for one day, planning for the event begins months in advance.

A dunking booth was onsite if the rain didn’t get bystanders soaked enough."We have to pay for half of the fireworks by April each year," said Harbuck. "We have to meet early to set up tents, stage and sound system and haul materials needed for the day such as corn hole boards, golf balls, golf carts, etc. We are continually trying to find sponsorship monies to help support the fireworks and the activities at the park that day."

For the annual firework celebration, the chamber spends no small amount.

"Total cost for fireworks for us is $10,000, that includes the shooting, training, insurance and any other materials that are needed," said Harbuck. "Money for the fireworks comes from sponsorships, donations, Town of Franklin and the Macon County Recreation Department."

In addition to the $10,000 for the fireworks, additional funds go into the promotion of the festivities. This year, Macon County's Tourism Development Commission helped with the funds to advertise the event.

With months of preparation and hard work by countless individuals, each year Macon County gets a fun-filled day of fun games and events preceded by arguably the biggest and best fireworks extravaganza in Western North Carolina.

Winners of the competitions

• Cornhole: 1st Place – Rooster Crowe & Horse Hornbuckle; 2nd place – Justin French & Jim Long; 3rd place – John & Mike Kimbrough.

• Bulls Eye Ball Drop – Sharon McDonald

• Blind Golf Cart Race – Mike Gibson & Carey Patton

Rooster Crowe and Horse Hornbuckle won the cornhole tournament.Biltmore Baptist Church helped sponsor the fireworks and inflatables for the kids and was on hand to share the fun with Franklin residents and visitors. The church is expanding and will soon host a Franklin campus.Patriotism comes in all shapes and sizes.The Franklin Lion’s Club held its annual fundraiser on Thursday, July 4, selling barbecued chicken to benefit its scholarship fund.The horseshoe tournament was cancelled but enthusiasts threw for fun anyway.The Macon Grass Band participated in Saturday’s events, providing local sounds of bluegrass to those in attendance.The Wagon Train made its annual trip through Franklin just in time for Independence Day. Though rain sent some home early, many remained to tough it out.

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