Celebrate the Fourth of July at Harlan’s Fourth Fest

Published 12:15 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2024

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Downtown Harlan is preparing for the Fourth of July with Harlan Tourism’s annual Fourth Fest, an annual event for those wishing to celebrate Independence Day with fun, food, music, and other activities.
Brandon Pennington, Executive Director of the city of Harlan Tourism and Convention Commission, talked about Fourth Fest during a recent interview.
“We are super excited about it,” Pennington said.
According to Harlan Tourism’s Facebook page, Visit Harlan County, the event will kick off at 4 p.m. with the Fourth Fest 4th of July Parade. The parade will run through downtown Harlan, with prizes awarded for best children’s float, vintage vehicle, holiday hero (first responders, police, fire, etc.), most patriotic, best theme, best scouting group, and the Harlan Tourism Award.
Following the parade, Fourth Fest will be in full swing at the Harlan Center, with all sorts of activities and treats available. On the grounds will be inflatables, a cornhole tournament, live music, and of course the night will be capped off with a Fourth of July fireworks display.
There will also be a foam pit for the first time.
“We’re adding a foam pit this year,” Pennington said. “We think it’s going to be a big hit with the kids. We can probably fit about 40 kids into the foam pit at one time. It cascades foam down on them while they’re in the pit.”
Live music is always an essential part of any celebration in downtown Harlan, and the Fourth of July will not be an exception. Brooklyn Burkhart hits the stage at 5 p.m., with Bek and The Starlight Review taking over at 6 p.m. Laci Deaton is scheduled for a set at 7 p.m. The night keeps rocking with the Big Thunder Kissin’ Radio Band supplying a collection of hits at 8 p.m.
Headlining the entertainment for the evening is the alt pop duo Rags & Riches.
“We changed things up a little bit on the type of music we put on the stage,” said Pennington. “We have a headliner out of Lexington called Rags and Riches. They’re an alt pop duo, they’re brothers. It’s a type of music we haven’t presented during one of our festivals before. They’re super high energy. We can’t wait to see that energy permeate the crowd before the fireworks.”
The Rags & Riches website at  https://www.ragsandrichesmusic.com states “Brothers Tanner and Peyton Whitt, performing as the adrenalized alt-pop duo RAGS AND RICHES, aim to bring hope and inspire a generation of dreamers. Hailing from Lexington, Kentucky, these brothers aren’t just making music—they’re crafting anthems that ignite souls. From the moment they unleashed their debut single, “Speed of Sound” in 2019, the world took notice. With over 930K+ streams and 525K+ video views for “SOS,” they set the stage for an explosive breakout unlike any other.”
Following the music, a fireworks display will hit the skies over Harlan.
“We took over the fireworks show about six or seven years ago,” Pennington said. “We have seen it grow tremendously since taking it over.”
Pennington mentioned the Fourth Fest has grown over the years as well.
“The festival initially had about 10 vendors,” Pennington said. “Now, we’re at a place where we have 20 to 25 vendors every time and a crowd of about 5,000 by the time the fireworks go off. It’s just a really good time.”
Additionally, the Red, White, and Zoom 5K is set for the morning of July, 4, with registration for the run available at the Harlan Center beginning at 8:30 a.m. Registration is $15. The run begins at 9 a.m., with medals awarded to overall winners as well as age division winners. The Red, White, and Zoom 5K is hosted by by Harlan Tourism in partnership with the Harlan County Track & Field Boosters.
Vendors are expected to include Junior’s Hibachi, Rayna’s Refreshments, Suzy Q’s Food Truck, Gibbs Homemade Jewelry, Redneckers, Brittany Couch Crafts, Daniel Neff’s Food Truck, Live Taylor Art and Hair Extensions, and more. Those in attendance will have an abundant selection of fun foods available such as funnel cake, hot dogs, watermelon, nachos, popcorn, lemonade, and shaved ice.
For more information on Fourth Fest and other activities, visit the Visit Harlan County Facebook page, go to the Harlan Tourism event tag at https://www.harlancountytrails.com, or call the Harlan Center at 606-573-4156.
“We invite everybody to come on down and have a good time at Fourth Fest!” Pennington said

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