Each year, Fort Leonard Wood celebrates July 4 with the largest fireworks display in mid-Missouri. But long before the rockets’ red glare lights up the sky, the installation offers a myriad of events, including games, a car show, live entertainment, including concerts by rockers Red Sun Rising and country artist Jarrod Niemann — all free and open to the public at Gammon Field.
“Fort Leonard Wood hosts the annual Independence Day Celebration to provide recreational fun for (Fort Leonard Wood) families and the local community by offering a day full of entertainment and activities,” said Eli Wilson, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Activities manager. “(We) anticipate the crowd may be larger this year due to the fact we have two outstanding bands lined up for this year’s celebration.”
Schedule of events
The fun begins at 3 p.m. when Gammon Field opens to visitors. Throughout the event, attendees can enjoy static displays, inflatable play areas for kids, interactive games, pony rides and a petting zoo.
Also throughout the event, a variety of food will be available for purchase, ranging from wood-fired pizzas to barbecue to cotton candy and funnel cakes
Special performances, attractions and displays include:
— The annual 4th of July Car Show will give area auto enthusiasts a chance to show their cars, trucks or motorcycles. Vehicles will be on display from 3 to 6 p.m. at Gammon Field. The top vehicle in each category, plus the best in show, will be chosen by visitors, including service men and women from the Fort Leonard Wood community. If you want to show your vehicle, contact the Auto Skills Center at 573.596.0243. Entries will be taken up until 1 p.m, the day of the event.
“Honestly, all they have to do is show up,” said Matt Conway with the Auto Skills Center. “It’s free to enter. The car show will be on Constitution Avenue. Just drive in and tell them they are here for the car show. We’ll get their name, register them and give them a number for their vehicle. When the voting starts, the public will vote for their favorite car.”
— The KC Disc Dogs are scheduled to perform at 4 p.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. A perennial favorite for several festival attendees, the KC Disc Dogs have performed for the Kansas City Royals, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Wizards games.
— A ceremony featuring the annual Salute to the Union begins at 6 p.m. The event features remarks by Fort Leonard Wood senior leaders, the Salute to the Union narrated by Fort Leonard Wood Drill Sergeant of the Year Sgt. 1st Class Marianne Russell and the National Anthem performed by a vocalist from the 399th Army Band.
— Red Sun Rising takes the stage at 6:30 p.m. Originating from Akron, Ohio, Mike Protich, Ryan Williams, Dave McGarry, Ricky Miller and Pat Gerasia formed the band in 2006. They perform their signature “thread” sound influenced by a mix of hard rock and grunge music.
— Country music singer/songwriter Jerrod Niemann is scheduled to perform at 8:15 p.m. Niemann has recorded three albums for Sea Gayle Music/Arista Nashville and his known for his songs, “Lover, Lover,” “Drink to that all Night,” and “I Got This.” His current single, “ God Made a Woman,” was recently released by Curb Records.
— The fireworks spectacular begins at about 9:30 p.m. The largest fireworks display in mid-Missouri, the show will include more than 1,400 shells.
Bring your lawn chairs
The event features festival seating, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.
No personal coolers, pets or fireworks will be allowed on the venue.
Parking is available at the Post Chapel, Nutter Field House, Baker Theater, Abrams Theater and surrounding streets.
“Please note that Iowa, Constitution and Minnesota avenues will be closed to traffic during the event,” Wilson said.
The annual Independence Day Celebration is made possible by the Fort Leonard Wood Recycle Program, which contributes $130,000 to the event, which allows the installation to offer the event at no cost to attendees.
For more information about the Independence Day Celebration, call 573.596.6913 or check out the calendar event listing at leonardwood.armymwr.com.