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County set to celebrate Independence Day

Several communities and groups in the area will celebrate the Fourth of July this holiday weekend with fireworks displays and a variety of activities.
Beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 1, the Center on Aging and Health will serve hot dogs, popcorn and watermelon. The center will also set up a dunking tank, a corn-hole game and a pie-throwing booth. Cotton candy will also be served, with a fireworks display to cap off the event around 8:45 p.m.
Flag Pond’s Ruritan Club will hold a fireworks display this Saturday, July 2, on the grounds of the old Flag Pond School beginning at 5 p.m.
This year’s event will also include a lawnmower and tractor parade, as well as lawnmower racing. All participants are encouraged to decorate their lawnmowers and bring them to the grounds by 5 p.m.
There will be two classes of lawnmower racing, including modified and stock mowers. The winner in each class will receive a cash prize.
Hot dogs and hamburgers will be served at the patriotic celebration and members of the Unicoi County Fire Association will set off fireworks around 9:45 p.m.
Everyone is welcome to attend, and donations to the Unicoi County Fire Association are appreciated.
The town of Unicoi’s annual Freedom Fest event will also take place on Monday, July 4. This year, the event has been moved to the field at Tinker Road, just across from Wal-Mart and Los Jalapeños.
According to Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch, the change of venue came this year as a result of outgrowing the field behind Unicoi Elementary School, where the event has been held since its inception in 2003.
“We needed a place where we could accommodate more people. Every year, the crowd just kept inching closer and closer to where (the fireworks) are actually being shot,” Lynch said. “We feel like the logistics will work pretty well down there (at the Tinker Road field).”
Lynch said the field is a better location because it allows for more parking. Also contributing to that need is local citizen Carl Jones, who Lynch said has agreed to let the town use some of his land for parking.
“We are very thankful for his cooperation,” Lynch said.
Lynch said the elements that comprise Freedom Fest’s patriotic atmosphere – the summer air, the children celebrating, live music and, of course, the fireworks – are “a thing of beauty.”
“People really love to see a good fireworks display,” Lynch said. This year’s fireworks will take place at 9:45 p.m.
Opening ceremonies for Freedom Fest will take place at 5:30 and will be followed by entertainment from the Spivey Mountain Boys, at 5:45; the Rhythm Brewers, at 7:00; and Jessica Nixon and River Run, at 8:30.
Food will be available for purchase from the Unicoi Ruritan Club at this year’s Freedom Fest.
Unicoi’s annual Freedom Fest, now in its ninth year, began as a much smaller event in Alderman Mark Ramsey’s backyard. Lynch said what began as a gathering for Ramsey’s church youth group has now grown into one of the town’s premier outings.
“This could easily be the most popular event we do in the town of Unicoi,” Lynch said.
Ramsey has continued to spearhead the festival each year, playing an active role in organizing entertainment and ironing out additional details.
Lynch added that Freedom Fest’s relatively short four-hour duration fits well with people’s work schedules. He said anyone wishing to attend this year’s Freedom Fest is encouraged to wear red, white and blue and bring a lawn chair or blanket in order to enjoy the festivities comfortably.