“We”re celebrating a big event for Norwalk — 200 years — and our nation’s birthday,” said Rachel Hipp, chairwoman for the event planners on the bicentennial committee. “We wanted to put together something so people can spend the whole day celebrating. It can be a change from hosting everyone at your house for the holiday.
“Just come on out because we have events and entertainment lasting from the end of the parade through a special fireworks display that night,” Hipp said. “We’ll have everything — music, dancing, fun, games, food, shopping. We hope a big crowd comes out to enjoy a very special Fourth for our community.”
Two featured attractions will be the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales and helicopters from the Air National Guard.
The Clydesdales will march in the parade and then be on display in the horse barn at the fairgrounds. Adults and children alike are invited to stop by and help Maple City Ice celebrate 100 years in business.
The Air National Guard will perform a jet flyover during the parade and also have two helicopters on display in the west parking lot at the fairgrounds. Visitors will be able to inspect the helicopters.
The Mapletree Roadrace, a four-mile run to raise money for the Michael H. Hay Scholarship Fund at Norwalk Catholic School, will be the first activity to get started at 8:30 a.m. It is being held on the parade route so people setting up early on the streets can cheer on the runners.
Norwalk’s parade begins on East Main Street at 10:30 a.m. It usually takes a couple of hours for the last entries to wind through town and reach the end at the parking lot of Fair Road.
By 11 a.m., food and drink vendors will be open at the fairgrounds, with items such as bison burgers and kettle corn available. Red Shamrock, a gourmet food truck, also will be at there.
The bicentennial committee is offering the new Toft’s ice cream flavor — maple salted caramel — created in honor of Norwalk’s 200th birthday.
The Jaycee’s beer tent will feature the Norwalk Bicentennial Beer, brewed in honor of the city by Rochester Mills Beer Co. That special beer is also available in locally-owned stores: Dave’s Food Mart, Miller’s Market, Schild’s IGA SuperCenter, West Side Store and Maple City Ice.
Visitors also are welcome to pack up their own family favorites and bring picnics to enjoy with all the planned activities. All events and entertainment at the fairgrounds are free.
The front part of the fairgrounds on Fair Road and the Heritage Area will be open to the public, with parking across the street on the west side of Fair Road. The grandstands also will be open, with musical acts performing there and the fireworks staged from the middle of the arena.
Games for all ages will be available from 1 p.m. throughout the day. Organized children’s races, such as sack races, three-legged races, water balloon toss, beach ball between knees relay, parachute, bubble gum blowing contest, clothes pins in a bottle, will last from 1 to 3 p.m. Then kids can play large-sized versions of games Plinko, Jenga, Connect Four and checkers throughout the day.
Quidditch, trampoline ball and tug-of-war will be set up for teens.
Horseshoes, corn hole and bocce ball will also be available for youth and adults alike throughout the day.
People also can do a little shopping on the Fourth at the Fairgrounds. Schick Apiary will have many honey and honey-related products, including candles and beeswax. Metal by Merry offers art made from horseshoes and other metals.
29 Design, owned by Micheline Kerr, offers hammered copper jewelry. Gibson’s Herbal Gatherings, owned by Toni Gibson, sells handmade candles, lotions and room sprays. Sweet Lou’s Home Bakery will offer caramel corn, candy and cookies.
Several musical acts will perform throughout the day on the stage at the grandstands. Small Town Singers, six vocalists from the area who perform music from many genres, will perform from 1 to 3 p.m.
At 3 p.m., bragging rights for local safety services are up for grabs as Norwalk police and fire departments battle for supremacy in three challenges. Police choose one contest, firefighters select another and then the two agencies face off with a tug-of-war as a final test of superiority.
Visitors can put their dancing shoes on from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. with Danny Beck, one of the best-known callers in the area, leading square dancing and line dancing in the smaller barn in the Heritage Area.
Emily Keener, the Wakeman teenager who made it into the top 12 of “The Voice,” will entertain the crowd from 7 to 7:45 p.m. She also will sing the National Anthem immediately before the fireworks.
At 7:45 p.m., Rutledge, a modern-country band from Roanoke, Va., will take the stage, with Adam Rutledge as lead vocalist and guitarist. The band’s latest single, “Rub a Little Dirt on It,’ is playing now on airwaves across the country.
The highlight of the celebration will be fireworks at 10 p.m. The grandstands will provide a front-row experience for the biggest fireworks display the city has ever seen.
“We have a schedule packed with so much, so many types of entertainment,” Hipp said. “This is a chance for families to unplug from daily stresses and just enjoy the wonderful community we share.”
Here is the July 4 fairgrounds entertainment schedule:
• Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales will be available to the public in the horse barn after they complete the parade.
• Air National Guard helicopters will be available for public inspection at the west parking lot.
11 a.m. - Food and drink vendors open, parking available in lot on west side of Fair Road across from main entrance
1 p.m. throughout the day - Games for children, teens and adults in central area at front of fairgrounds
1 to 3 p.m. - Small Town Singers on stage at grandstand
3 p.m. - Police vs. fire contests
3:30 to 5:30 p.m. - Square dancing and line dancing at Heritage Barn
7 to 7:45 p.m. - Emily Keener on stage at grandstand
7:45 to 9:45 p.m. - Rutledge on stage at grandstand
10 p.m. - National Anthem by Keener; fireworks