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Crab Orchard set to celebrate July 4 holiday

Thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England on July 4, 1776, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Since that time, Americans around the country have celebrated the historic event and nationally-recognized holiday with Fourth of July cookouts, festivals, parades and firework displays.

One of the longest continuous Independence Day celebrations in Kentucky happens right here in Lincoln County. For the past 43 years, Crab Orchard has been welcoming residents and visitors in to celebrate the nation’s birthday.

And the celebration continues this weekend.

Crab Orchard’s 2018 4th of July Celebration kicks off Friday night at 6 p.m. with a car cruise and the fun will continue until late Saturday evening when the night sky is lit up by the annual fireworks display.

“At one time this event was the biggest 4th of July celebration in the state,” said Nancy Baker and Donya Saylor, two members of the Crab Orchard 4th of July committee. “We still have a large turnout, maybe 1,000 people each year, but the lack of participation and volunteers have really had an effect on the participation and attendance.”

The event started in 1974 as a homecoming celebration to reunite Crab Orchard residents who had moved on from their former home. The celebration, which drew several thousand people to see old friends and the parade of floats, eventually turned into the 4th of July Celebration and included horse races that were held on Sportsman Hill at the William Whitley House, where the races were run counterclockwise like they were during William Whitley’s days.

The horse races are no longer held for several reasons, including lack of participation and liability issues. However, there are a lot of old traditions that continue. Some of the old mainstays are the country ham breakfast, which has always been served at Crab Orchard Elementary School, the Miss Crab Orchard Pageant, a car show, the parade and fireworks.

The pageant format has expanded over the last five years to include young misses from 3 to 18 years of age in four different categories: Tiny Tot, Little Miss, Miss Pre-Teen and Miss Crab Orchard. These pageants also are now recognized as a preliminary for the Kentucky State Festival pageants. The pageants will be held Friday night beginning at 7 p.m. at the historic home of Donnie Brummett on Main Street.

Baker and Saylor said the festival committee tries to build on the celebration each year by adding events and this year a Civil War graves cemetery tour is the new addition. The local cemetery is the final resting place for many Civil War soldiers and has a vast history. David Gambrel will lead the tour Saturday morning from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Two of the most popular competitions over the past few years have been the watermelon crawl and the golf cart drags.

In the watermelon crawl, participants 4 years old and up have to get on their hands and knees and crawl about 50 feet while pushing a watermelon with their head.  The event is perhaps one of the funniest of the celebration and the winners get to keep their watermelons.

The golf cart drags require participants to maneuver their way through an obstacle course in a golf cart. The runs are timed and Main Street Police Chief Jimmy Gipson monitors the event to make sure there are no speeders.    

There will be plenty of music Friday and Saturday nights, with DJ Greg providing the entertainment from 8 to 11 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, Your 2nd Favorite Band, featuring Crab Orchard native Shane Eldridge, will play from 6 to 8 p.m. and Josh Logan will take the stage from 8 to 10 p.m. with the fireworks to follow.

Crab Orchard Independence Day celebration schedule

Friday

Vendor booths open

Car cruise — 6 to 8 p.m.

Miss Crab Orchard pageants — starting at 7 p.m.

Street dance — 8 to 11 p.m.

Saturday

Country ham breakfast — 7:30 to 10 a.m.

Civil War graves cemetery tour — 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Car show — 10 a.m. to noon.

Parade — 1 p.m.

Watermelon crawl — 2:30 p.m.

Water balloon toss — 3 p.m.

Golf cart drags — 3:30 p.m.

Golf cart backseat driver contest — 4 p.m.

Street dance featuring Your 2nd Favorite Band — 6 to 8 p.m.

Josh Logan — 8 to 10 p.m.

Fireworks — 10 p.m.

There will be plenty of food vendors and others selling their wares, including fresh home grown produce, leather goods, jewelry, toys and various other items.

If anyone has any questions, they can contact Nancy Baker at Crab Orchard City Hall, (606) 355-2319; or Donya Saylor at (859) 238-9563.