Music, attractions, food, fireworks entertain thousands in Liberty Hill
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
There was no raining on Liberty Hill’s summer fun tradition as more than 4,500 packed City Park on July 3 for the Independence Day Spectacular.
“The Independence Day celebration was a great success,” said City Administrator Greg Boatright. “All of the people in our community certainly enjoyed the activities that were provided for the kids, you just saw a lot of families out there. To me that’s what this event is about is to provide that venue for our families to be able to come out and enjoy it.”
Packed with traditional fun visitors have come to expect, including food trucks, bounce houses and water fun for kids, this year’s event added a chance for local nonprofits to raise funds and promote awareness for their causes as part of the Liberty Hill Day of Giving, which raised $35,000 for nine local organizations.
“I thought the whole event was great,” said Mayor Rick Hall. “It was nice to have all the 501c3 nonprofit people there. It brought a whole new level of enthusiasm to the park. That was really what this was all about was bringing our community together.”
In his first year as mayor, Hall said he remained focused on just doing all he could to help keep the event successful.
“Shelly (Wilkison) and Katie (Amsler) did a great job setting it up and I was just there to help facilitate what they did and worked so hard on,” Hall said. “I really didn’t think about it as being the mayor, I just thought of it as just being someone to help out and make sure it was a success.”
Four big winners were crowned in the annual competitions for watermelon seed spitting, hot dog eating, homemade apple pie and homemade ice cream.
James Cook outdistanced the competition in the seed-spitting contest at 27 feet.
Trevor Ogden, the 2017 runner up in the hot dog eating contest took home the trophy this year with eight and a half in five minutes.
Jacie Johnson’s Blueberry Crumble ice cream took home the top prize in the ice cream category, and Liz Branigan came out on top in the pie contest with Grandma’s Apple Pie. Both 1st Place winners received $100.
After the beach ball drop, music fans settled in across the park for local country music artist Kyle Park’s show, featuring his own work – including tunes from his recently-released sixth album – and a few fan-favorite cover songs from George Strait and Johnny Cash.
A Liberty Hill duo — The Decades — preceded Park. The duo of Don Hubbard and Diane Tropea opened for Park with light jazz and popular tunes.
The Park concert rolled right into the grand finale, the fireworks spectacular that lit up the Liberty Hill sky.
For three years, the community’s Independence Day event has been organized and sponsored by The Independent. This year, the event took another leap forward, bringing in the City of Liberty Hill as a new partner. The event, which costs about $60,000 to put on, received $41,000 from the city to help it grow.
“After watching our success for the past two years and noticing the tremendous growth in attendance, the City of Liberty Hill came to us and asked to play a major role so that we could continue to grow the event and keep it free for everyone,” Wilkison said. “This partnership is a very positive one, and we appreciate the commitment of city staff and elected officials who share our belief that local festivals and celebrations are important in the life of a community.”
Even with the secured funding, and hard work of city staff, Boatright spoke up on behalf of the pair that originated the event through The Independent.
“A lot of thanks goes to Shelly and Katie for putting that together. It was a great event,” he said.
Save the date now for the next Independence Day Spectacular. The event, which is already in the planning stage, will be Wednesday, July 3, 2019.