Mud volleyball, live music, food, fireworks, cornhole, a parade, a movie under the stars, and a tribute to first responders and the military services. For Moore County residents who like to get out and celebrate Independence Day with other people, there are a wealth of activities and events available this year in the area. They may not all be on the traditional 4th of July, but there should be something to appeal to just about everyone.
First up, on July 3, is the National Park Service at Lake Meredith. Beginning at 7:00 pm in the Fritch Fortress Amphitheater, Amarillo country music singer Lindsey Lane will perform. According to Tim Cruze, Chief of Interpretation and Education at Lake Meredith and Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, once it gets dark, around 9:30 pm, the fireworks will begin. "One of the neat things with the fireworks show is that we are asking everyone to turn to 97.9 KGNC FM at 9:20 pm. When the fireworks start at 9:30 pm, there will be musical accompaniment," he said. "That will be really cool." The fireworks will last about 30 minutes.
Finally, at 10:15 pm, the Park Service is going to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz" with a special screening of the movie in the amphitheater. "It is a long evening with a lot of things to do," said Cruze. "We encourage people to come."
The amphitheater can seat about 1500 people. Many people bring lounge chairs and sit all over the Fritch Fortress mesa to watch the fireworks and listen to the music. There will also be a "snack shack" manned by members of the Friends of Lake Meredith and Alibates and Project Fritch America offering soft drinks, candy, and other treats near the amphitheater.
Cruze says he expects about 50,000 people to come to the park for the fireworks. While Fritch Fortress is probably the best place, Blue West, Cedar Canyon, Sanford Yake, and Harbor Bay are also popular places for viewing the show. "Some people bring their boats in, and they can see it from the Lake," he added. The Lake is at slightly under 77 feet now, much improved from the 24 feet low of 2013, when the lake came close to literally drying up.
Cruze stresses that personal fireworks are still prohibited in the park, and he says leave glass bottles at home. "Don't bring glass bottles of any kind. It is a safety issue. There is always the chance of them getting into the water. We are making an effort to cut down on the amount of glass in here. We don't want broken glass in the water."
Otherwise, he said, "Come, bring the family. It is family oriented. Just enjoy ... "
For those looking for something to do on the 4th, the Dumas/Moore County Chamber of Commerce is offering the now traditional mud volleyball tournament beginning at 8:00 am near the senior center on Maddox across from McDade Park. Chamber Executive Director Carl Watson said, depending on how many teams ultimately compete, the tournament should last until about 4:00 pm or a little later. Teams are eliminated until the last one standing walks away with the $500.00 first prize. There will also be food trucks offering a variety of refreshments. "We are still in need of referees and scorekeepers," Watson added.
Beginning at 8:30 pm, when Demon Stadium opens, the Chamber and the Dumas Fire Department will be hosting both a fireworks display with music and a tribute to first responders and the military services featuring an honor guard from the American Legion. Both events proved very popular last year. Watson says the ceremony will begin at 9:00 pm with the fireworks following at 9:30 pm or whenever it gets completely dark. KDDD will simulcast the event on radio.
Despite the recent wet weather, it is still illegal to shoot off personal fireworks within the city limits of Dumas. Officials stress that the law will be enforced.
"It is always a fun thing, whether they are participating or just there to watch the teams play," said Watson. "We always invite people down to enjoy the 4th of July and help us celebrate Independence Day in a fun and family friendly way. We hope that they will come down for mud volleyball and also come to Demon Stadium to help us celebrate a very special day for all of us Americans."
Finally, the City of Cactus kicks off its Independence Day celebration at 11:30 am on Saturday, June 6, with a parade beginning at the Cactus Elementary School and winding through town to end up at the Cactus Recreation Center. According to Kristen Reyes, organizer of the day's events, those who want to participate in the parade have until Wednesday night to register. They will be joining the Cactus Police Department, the Cactus Fire Department, JBS, various sports teams and others who have already signed up to participate.
This year, in a slight change from last year, food trucks, including ones from Hogg's BBQ, Kokken, Pumbah's, and others will be offering the food and drinks.
Beginning at 1:00 pm, visitors will be able to enjoy live music from Los Solitarios, who were on hand last year, and, for those who love country music, Northridge Band.
Throughout the afternoon, there will be bouncy houses and other games for children and a cornhole tournament for adults. Reyes says there are still slots available for the tournament. Anyone wanting to form a two-person team and compete for the $500.00 first prize -- or $300 second and $200.00 third prize -- can register by simply calling 806-930-3494. Friday night is the deadline.
Finally, around 8:30 pm, or whenever it is dark enough, the City of Cactus will bring the area's Independence Day celebrations to a close with a fireworks display.