Boom town: Central PA 4th Fest is underway

Volunteers cut the 5 1/2x12-foot American flag cake during the 2013 Central Pennsylvania 4th Fest.
Volunteers cut the 5 1/2x12-foot American flag cake during the 2013 Central Pennsylvania 4th Fest. CDT file photo

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

• 9 a.m.: Firecracker 4K Race, IM Building, University Park

• 1 p.m.: State College Spikes vs. Jamestown Jammers, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park

• 2 p.m.: Third annual America’s Got Heroes Parade of Heroes, downtown State College

• 2 p.m.: Food vendors open

• 2 p.m.: Biscuit Jam, Centre Stage

• 2 p.m.: Songwriter’s Showcase, Bryce Jordan Center lawn

• 2:45 p.m.: Backyard Rockers, Centre Stage

• 3 p.m.: Mark and Roy, BJC lawn

• 3 p.m.: Scent of Water, Towne Square

• 3:30 p.m.: Mysterytrain, Centre Stage

• 3:30-5 p.m.: Pie-baking contest drop off, Upper Founders Mall

• 3:45 p.m.: Tir Na Nog dancers, Towne Square

• 4 p.m.: Sons of Resonance, BJC lawn

• 4:15 p.m.: Seven2Ten, Centre Stage

• 4:30, 6 and 7:30 p.m.: Lumberjack Show and camp, Lot 44

• 4:30 p.m.: Anna Zaccaria, Towne Square

• 4, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.: Pyrotechnics demonstration, Stadium West

• 4-8 p.m.: Military equipment display, Curtin Road

• 4-8 p.m.: Operation Thank You, Curtin Road

• 4-8 p.m.: Hot dogs and chips, Curtin Road

• 4-8 p.m.: Children’s activities and crafts, Founders Mall

• 4-8:30 p.m.: Bob the Bike Guy, Upper Founders Mall

• 4-8 p.m.: Shaver’s Creek demonstration, Stadium West

• 4-8 p.m.: 148th PA Volunteer Civil War Infantry, Company C, Bryce Jordan Center acoustic stage lawn

• 5 p.m.: Chris Good, BJC lawn

• 5 p.m.: State College Community Theatre, Centre Stage

• 5:15 p.m.: Magic by Ben Salinas, Towne Square

• 5:30 p.m. (and every half hour): Stories of Centre County’s founding fathers, Founders Mall

• 5:30 p.m. (and every half hour): Ballooning with Sky’s the Limit, Lot 44 field

• 5:30, 7 and 8 p.m.: BMX stunt show, Founders Mall

• 6 p.m.: Birthday cake cutting, Stadium West

• 6 p.m.: Overhead, Centre Stage

• 6 p.m.: Joe Quick, BJC lawn

• 6 p.m.: Force of Habit, Towne Square

• 7 p.m.: State College Area Municipal Band, Centre Stage

• 7 p.m.: “Sgt.” Bob Timney, BJC lawn

• 7 p.m.: Riley Roth, Towne Square

• 8 p.m.: ESP, Centre Stage

• 8 p.m.: Tommy Wareham and the Intrigues, BJC lawn

• 8 p.m.: Jackie Brown and the Gill Street Band, Towne Square

• 9 p.m.: Reading of the Declaration of Independence, Centre Stage

• 9:15 p.m.: Fireworks show

• 10:15 p.m.: Dance with Chris Vipond and the Stanley Street Band, Centre Stage