Independence Day celebrated with Harlan’s Fourth Fest

Published 9:10 am Wednesday, July 10, 2024

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Downtown Harlan observed Independence Day with a bang, as the Harlan Center grounds played host to dozens of attractions including holiday food, live music, and of course the grandeur of a Fourth of July fireworks display during the annual Fourth Fest event.

Harlan Tourism’s Visit Harlan County social media outlets provided updates of the event in real time for those unable to attend in person.

Laura Adkisson, Downtown Development Coordinator for Harlan Tourism, said this year’s Fourth Fest topped all previous years.

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“This is the biggest Fourth Fest that we’ve hosted since the event began,” Adkisson said. “We had a tremendous response from our community. The parade was fantastic, and we had a fireworks show that we continue to get positive feedback on.”

Things got moving early with the Red, White, and Zoom 5K run through the streets of Harlan. The overall winners were Gracie Roberts and Caden Reifer. The female 12 and under winner was Julianne Miller and the male 12 and under winner was Aiden Browning. The 13 to 18 age group winners were Peyton Lunsford in the female division and Jayden Sargent in the male. The female 19 to 29 winner was Samantha Clem. There were no males entered in this age group. The female winner for the 30 to 39 age group was Ashley Felosi with Teddy Green taking first place in the men’s division. Age 40 to 49 winners were Amy Miller in the female division and Tyler Fugate in the male. The 50 plus age group saw Joyce Cheng taking first place for the female division and Mike Collins crossing the finish line first in the male division.

The event went into full swing a little later in the day, with the Fourth Fest Parade bringing out the patriot in everybody. Winning entries included Sunny Side Daycare for Best Children’s Float; Harlan Rescue Squad took home the award for Holiday Hero (First Responders); Most Patriotic went to the Shriners; Harlan County Jeepers had the Best 4th of July themed entry; the Harlan Tourism Award went to Harris Insurance, and Cub Scout Pack 149 won for Best Scouting Group. The Vintage Vehicle award went to Ken and Pam Dixon, while the Grand Prize was won by Harlan Middle School Softball.

Those in attendance were also treated to live music ranging from solo acoustic sets to full blown rock bands pumping out tunes for the crowd. The music kept coming with Brooklyn Collins Burkhart, Laci Deaton, Bek and the Starlight Review, and The Big Thunder Kissin’ Radio Band rocking out throughout the day. Headliners Rags and Riches capped off the live entertainment with a high energy performance.

In addition to the folks on the grounds, spectators filled every parking lot and lined up down the sides and even on the median of US 421 (the bypass) to view the fireworks display which lit up the sky to bring a spectacular close to the day’s festivities.