By Andrea Dono
No plans for the Fourth yet? Consider heading to Main Street!
America’s historic downtowns are the perfect backdrop for celebrating Independence Day, and visiting these special places gives us an opportunity to reflect on our heritage and to enjoy Americana in an authentic setting. As a result, Main Streets throughout the nation are welcoming neighbors and new visitors this weekend with a wide variety of events that run the gamut from traditional community gatherings to blow-out patriotic events.
Earlier this week, we created a special web page for Main Street leaders and enthusiasts to post descriptions of how their towns are celebrating our nation’s birthday, as well as to upload photos of their holiday events. So, what’s happening on Main Street? Lots!
Williamsburg, Kentucky isn’t waiting for Saturday to get started. Come Friday, the streets will be closed off for their Old Fashioned Block Party, which features live music and dancing. Hopefully, Williamsburg residents won’t party too hard because Saturday starts with a benefit 5K run/walk. A parade through downtown and a fireworks display will cap off the evening, while other events like the annual corn toss tournament and the town's duck races keep the celebrations rolling throughout the weekend.
Clinton, Missouri starts early, ends late, and seems to out-do itself every year with its four-day Olde Glory Days, which features free entertainment for everyone. There’s going to be music, weiner dog races and a pet parade, a carnival, a quilt show, a fine arts show, and the debut of a Wii tournament, among so many more activities. Visitors can enjoy the state’s largest courthouse square, many historic building ad murals, Breanna’s soda fountain shop, and a 1921 bandstand. Olde Glory Days is sponsored by the local business community, which uses the July 4th weekend to show Clinton residents how much they are appreciated. Similarly, the celebration in Charles City, Iowa spans five days every year and attracts enough people to double the city’s population! A variety of entertainment and activities are planned for all ages, including its most unique element – a water ski show.
Located 30 minutes north of Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, Louisiana offers unspoiled outdoor recreation, a plethora of historic plantations, and culinary adventures ranging from fried chicken served up at a converted gas station to alligator bites and crawfish boils. Visitors shopping in the historic district on the 4th get to participate in a “flag pull.” Secretly marked flags are at every checkout counter, and shoppers pick one to receive discounts of varying amounts or perhaps even a special gift. After putting away all of their purchases, people gather to enjoy food, music and fireworks.
I don’t know about you, but these events sound like a blast. We invite you to catch the excitement and enjoy this holiday in your nearby historic community. Attending Main Street events, shopping at local businesses, and supporting your local revitalization program shows that you believe that Main Street matters. Want to find a Main Street near you? Search for one with our Main Street program locator.
And of course, it’s not too late to share your community’s celebrations and photos. Visit our Red, White and Blue Main Streets web page to submit yours today.
Andrea L. Dono is an associate editor for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Center. She would like to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.