The fireworks are prepped and the lumberjacks have arrived, which could mean only one thing: The Central PA 4th Fest is underway.
With the addition of several new elements and the return of popular traditions, orgnizers say they expect the annual Independence Day celebration to be one of the biggest in recent years. The festival is a daylong event that begins with the Firecracker 4K race at 9 a.m. and closes with one of the most highly rated fireworks shows in the country.
“We added a whole new race route, which should be a lot of fun for people,” said Bernie Keisling, executive director of 4th Fest. “We do expect about 1,300 runners, which would be a record.”
The third annual Parade of Heroes will come after the race.
“It’s going to involve the volunteer running community, a fire company, people who were involved in saving people’s lives. It’s an absolute broad brush,” Keisling said. “You look at the heroes and you say, ‘Wow.’ ”
Also at 2 p.m. will be the start of performances by more than 20 bands, dancing groups and theater companies. These performers will provide continuous entertainment on three stages near the Bryce Jordan Center and Beaver Stadium until the fireworks show.
According to Keisling, one of the most surprising additions to this year’s 4th Fest is a group of professional lumberjacks from Minnesota.
“The lumberjack show was so popular last year we’re bringing it back, and we usually do not bring things back,” he said.
The lumberjacks bring their own 10,000 gallon pool and compete in logrolling competitions. Anyone interested in logrolling can do more than just watch; audience participation is allowed after each show.
“We just want to have a lot of different activities that will match the different age groups,” Keisling said. “We’re a family-friendly, patriotic birthday party. We want to do family-friendly things.”
The fireworks will start at 9:15 p.m., and this year’s show is scheduled to have 19 songs, more than 10,000 explosions and a finale featuring as many as 27 fireworks per second. The show, which was planned starting in the fall, is possible thanks to dozens of volunteers who set up and set off the fireworks.
While the fireworks can be seen from any number of locations, Keisling recommends the VIP viewing area outside of Lubrano Park.
“You can see, taste and feel the fireworks. You can’t get any closer to a fireworks show anywhere in this country than you can to ours if you want to.”
For anyone who has never been to 4th Fest before, Keisling made an obvious suggestion: “All they need to do is talk to their neighbors, to colleagues, to friends who live here and, through word of mouth, they will find out pretty quickly that this is a magical event.”
For more information about 4th Fest, including VIP ticket details, visit www.4thfest.org.
Schedule of events